How do fire regimes affect ecosystem structure, function and diversity in grasslands and grassy woodlands of southern Australia?

Ian D. Lunt, Suzanne M. Prober, John W. Morgan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Abstract

Grasslands and grassy woodlands are widespread across southern Australia, occurring in the transitional zone between forests in higher rainfall areas and the shrublands and hummock grasslands of the drier interior. The conservation status of grassy ecosystems in southern Australia varies from relictual fragments in intensively-used agricultural regions to wellconserved, intact ecosystems in the Australian alps. In this chapter, we briefly describe the distribution of grasslands and grassy woodlands in southern Australia, and then review three
major ways in which fire regimes can affect the distribution, structure, dynamics and composition of these ecosystems. We ask three questions that have received considerable attention globally – to what extents do fire regimes in grassy ecosystems in southern Australia influence: (1) boundaries between treeless grasslands and timbered woodlands; (2) the cover or abundance of woody plants within grassy woodlands; and (3) the productivity, structure, function and diversity of ground vegetation in grasslands and grassy woodlands?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlammable Australia: Fire Regimes, Biodiversity and Ecosystems in a Changing World
EditorsRoss A. Bradstock, A. Malcolm Gill, Richard J. Williams
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780643104839, 9780643104846
ISBN (Print)9780643104822
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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