Habitat characteristics of the rare underground orchid Rhizanthella gardneri

Jeremy Bougoure, Mark Brundrett, A. Brown, Pauline Grierson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    Abstract

    Rhizanthella gardneri R.S.Rogers is an entirely subterranean mycoheterotrophic orchid known only from two isolated populations within south-western Western Australia (WA). This rare species appears restricted to habitats dominated by species of the Melaleuca uncinata complex. R. gardneri purportedly forms a tripartite relationship with Melaleuca1, via a connecting mycorrhizal fungus, for the purpose of carbohydrate and nutrient acquisition. Here, we quantify key climate, soil and vegetation characteristics of known R. gardneri habitats to provide baseline data for monitoring of known R. gardneri populations, to better understand how R. gardneri interacts with its habitat and to identify possible new sites for R. gardneri introduction. We found that the habitats of the two known R. gardneri populations show considerable differences in soil chemistry, Melaleuca structure and Melaleuca productivity. Multivariate analyses showed that both multidimensional scaling (MDS) and principal components analysis (PCA) ordinations of soil chemical characteristics were very similar. Individual sites within populations were relatively similar in all attributes measured, whereas overall northern and southern habitats were distinct from each other. These results suggest that R. gardneri can tolerate a range of conditions and may be more widespread than previously thought, given that there are extensive areas of Melaleuca thickets with similar habitat characteristics across south-western WA. Variability within the habitats of known R. gardneri populations suggests translocation of this species into sites with similar vegetation may be a viable option for the survival of this species.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages501-511
    JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
    Volume56
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2008

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    Melaleuca
    habitat
    habitats
    Western Australia
    vegetation
    soil chemistry
    isolated population
    rare species
    ordination
    translocation
    mycorrhizal fungi
    carbohydrate
    soil
    principal component analysis
    fungus
    carbohydrates
    climate
    productivity
    monitoring
    nutrient

    Cite this

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    title = "Habitat characteristics of the rare underground orchid Rhizanthella gardneri",
    abstract = "Rhizanthella gardneri R.S.Rogers is an entirely subterranean mycoheterotrophic orchid known only from two isolated populations within south-western Western Australia (WA). This rare species appears restricted to habitats dominated by species of the Melaleuca uncinata complex. R. gardneri purportedly forms a tripartite relationship with Melaleuca1, via a connecting mycorrhizal fungus, for the purpose of carbohydrate and nutrient acquisition. Here, we quantify key climate, soil and vegetation characteristics of known R. gardneri habitats to provide baseline data for monitoring of known R. gardneri populations, to better understand how R. gardneri interacts with its habitat and to identify possible new sites for R. gardneri introduction. We found that the habitats of the two known R. gardneri populations show considerable differences in soil chemistry, Melaleuca structure and Melaleuca productivity. Multivariate analyses showed that both multidimensional scaling (MDS) and principal components analysis (PCA) ordinations of soil chemical characteristics were very similar. Individual sites within populations were relatively similar in all attributes measured, whereas overall northern and southern habitats were distinct from each other. These results suggest that R. gardneri can tolerate a range of conditions and may be more widespread than previously thought, given that there are extensive areas of Melaleuca thickets with similar habitat characteristics across south-western WA. Variability within the habitats of known R. gardneri populations suggests translocation of this species into sites with similar vegetation may be a viable option for the survival of this species.",
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    Habitat characteristics of the rare underground orchid Rhizanthella gardneri. / Bougoure, Jeremy; Brundrett, Mark; Brown, A.; Grierson, Pauline.

    In: Australian Journal of Botany, Vol. 56, No. 6, 2008, p. 501-511.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Bougoure,Jeremy

    AU - Brundrett,Mark

    AU - Brown,A.

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    AB - Rhizanthella gardneri R.S.Rogers is an entirely subterranean mycoheterotrophic orchid known only from two isolated populations within south-western Western Australia (WA). This rare species appears restricted to habitats dominated by species of the Melaleuca uncinata complex. R. gardneri purportedly forms a tripartite relationship with Melaleuca1, via a connecting mycorrhizal fungus, for the purpose of carbohydrate and nutrient acquisition. Here, we quantify key climate, soil and vegetation characteristics of known R. gardneri habitats to provide baseline data for monitoring of known R. gardneri populations, to better understand how R. gardneri interacts with its habitat and to identify possible new sites for R. gardneri introduction. We found that the habitats of the two known R. gardneri populations show considerable differences in soil chemistry, Melaleuca structure and Melaleuca productivity. Multivariate analyses showed that both multidimensional scaling (MDS) and principal components analysis (PCA) ordinations of soil chemical characteristics were very similar. Individual sites within populations were relatively similar in all attributes measured, whereas overall northern and southern habitats were distinct from each other. These results suggest that R. gardneri can tolerate a range of conditions and may be more widespread than previously thought, given that there are extensive areas of Melaleuca thickets with similar habitat characteristics across south-western WA. Variability within the habitats of known R. gardneri populations suggests translocation of this species into sites with similar vegetation may be a viable option for the survival of this species.

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