Root morphology, photosynthesis, water relations and development of jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) in response to soil constraints at restores bauxite mines in south-western Australia

Christopher Szota

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    818 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Bauxite mining is a major activity in the jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata Donn ex Sm.) forest of south-western Australia. After mining, poor tree growth can occur in some areas. This thesis aimed to determine whether soil constraints, including reduced depth and compaction, were responsible for poor tree growth at low-quality restored bauxite mines. In particular, this study determined the response of jarrah root morphology, leaf-scale physiology and growth/development to soil constraints at two contrasting (low-quality and high-quality) restored bauxite-mine sites. Jarrah root excavations at a low-quality restored site revealed that deep-ripping equipment failed to penetrate the cemented lateritic subsoil, causing coarse roots to be restricted to the top 0.5 m of the soil profile, resulting in fewer and smaller jarrah trees. An adjacent area within the same mine pit (high-quality site) had a kaolinitic clay subsoil, which coarse roots were able to penetrate to the average ripping depth of 1.5 m. Impenetrable subsoil prevented development of taproots at the low-quality site, with trees instead producing multiple lateral and sinker roots. Trees in riplines, made by deep-ripping, at the high-quality site accessed the subsoil via a major taproot, while those on crests developed large lateral and sinker roots. Bauxite mining is a major activity in the jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata Donn ex Sm.) forest of south-western Australia. After mining, poor tree growth can occur in some areas. This thesis aimed to determine whether soil constraints, including reduced depth and compaction, were responsible for poor tree growth at low-quality restored bauxite mines. In particular, this study determined the response of jarrah root morphology, leaf-scale physiology and growth/development to soil constraints at two contrasting (low-quality and high-quality) restored bauxite-mine sites. Jarrah root excavations at a low-quality restored site revealed that deep-ripping equipment failed to penetrate the cemented lateritic subsoil, causing coarse roots to be restricted to the top 0.5 m of the soil profile, resulting in fewer and smaller jarrah trees. An adjacent area within the same mine pit (high-quality site) had a kaolinitic clay subsoil, which coarse roots were able to penetrate to the average ripping depth of 1.5 m. Impenetrable subsoil prevented development of taproots at the low-quality site, with trees instead producing multiple lateral and sinker roots. Trees in riplines, made by deep-ripping, at the high-quality site accessed the subsoil via a major taproot, while those on crests developed large lateral and sinker roots.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2009

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Root morphology, photosynthesis, water relations and development of jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) in response to soil constraints at restores bauxite mines in south-western Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this