Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing

Gillis Horner, Shaun Cunningham, James Thomson, Patrick Baker, Ralph MAC NALLY, David Moreno-Mateos

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Multiple pressures (land-use change, water extraction and climate change) interact to influence biodiversity and ecosystem processes, but direct evidence for interactions among multiple pressures is limited. Floodplain forests are an acute example of how interacting pressures (river regulation, water extraction, decreasing rainfall and mammal browsing) interact to degrade native ecosystems. We conducted a 2-year field experiment to determine how flooding, browsing and sediment salinity interacted to determine in situ seedling survival and growth of the keystone floodplain tree species (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh.). On semi-arid floodplains of southern Australia, 1-year-old seedlings were planted on the banks of six ephemeral creeks, three of which were flooded with management flows before planting while the others remained dry. Four plots were established at each creek, two open to browsing and two fenced to exclude mammal herbivores. Flooding had a strong positive effect on seedling survival and height, but browsing had strong negative effects. Sediment salinity (a covariate rather than a designed effect) had a weak negative effect on seedling survival and height. The positive effects of flooding were largely offset by the negative interaction with browsing and, to a lesser extent, sediment salinity. Although flooding has been restored to some degraded floodplain forests subjected to river regulation and a drying climate, the long-term success of such actions is likely to be undermined by persistent browsing. Synthesis and applications. Management actions that focus on single pressures (e.g. infrequent flooding) and processes (e.g. mature tree survival) while ignoring other pressures are unlikely to sustain populations of keystone species, suggesting that complementary strategies (managed flooding with herbivore control) are necessary to sustain recruitment and, therefore, ensure the future health of these essential ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)944-952
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
    Volume53
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Fingerprint

    browsing
    flooding
    seedling
    floodplain forest
    salinity
    floodplain
    ecosystem
    herbivore
    mammal
    sediment
    keystone species
    river
    land use change
    effect
    biodiversity
    rainfall
    climate change
    climate

    Cite this

    Horner, Gillis ; Cunningham, Shaun ; Thomson, James ; Baker, Patrick ; MAC NALLY, Ralph ; Moreno-Mateos, David. / Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing. In: Journal of Applied Ecology. 2016 ; Vol. 53, No. 3. pp. 944-952.
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    abstract = "Multiple pressures (land-use change, water extraction and climate change) interact to influence biodiversity and ecosystem processes, but direct evidence for interactions among multiple pressures is limited. Floodplain forests are an acute example of how interacting pressures (river regulation, water extraction, decreasing rainfall and mammal browsing) interact to degrade native ecosystems. We conducted a 2-year field experiment to determine how flooding, browsing and sediment salinity interacted to determine in situ seedling survival and growth of the keystone floodplain tree species (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh.). On semi-arid floodplains of southern Australia, 1-year-old seedlings were planted on the banks of six ephemeral creeks, three of which were flooded with management flows before planting while the others remained dry. Four plots were established at each creek, two open to browsing and two fenced to exclude mammal herbivores. Flooding had a strong positive effect on seedling survival and height, but browsing had strong negative effects. Sediment salinity (a covariate rather than a designed effect) had a weak negative effect on seedling survival and height. The positive effects of flooding were largely offset by the negative interaction with browsing and, to a lesser extent, sediment salinity. Although flooding has been restored to some degraded floodplain forests subjected to river regulation and a drying climate, the long-term success of such actions is likely to be undermined by persistent browsing. Synthesis and applications. Management actions that focus on single pressures (e.g. infrequent flooding) and processes (e.g. mature tree survival) while ignoring other pressures are unlikely to sustain populations of keystone species, suggesting that complementary strategies (managed flooding with herbivore control) are necessary to sustain recruitment and, therefore, ensure the future health of these essential ecosystems.",
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    author = "Gillis Horner and Shaun Cunningham and James Thomson and Patrick Baker and {MAC NALLY}, Ralph and David Moreno-Mateos",
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    Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing. / Horner, Gillis; Cunningham, Shaun; Thomson, James; Baker, Patrick; MAC NALLY, Ralph; Moreno-Mateos, David.

    In: Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 53, No. 3, 2016, p. 944-952.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    T1 - Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing

    AU - Horner, Gillis

    AU - Cunningham, Shaun

    AU - Thomson, James

    AU - Baker, Patrick

    AU - MAC NALLY, Ralph

    AU - Moreno-Mateos, David

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    AB - Multiple pressures (land-use change, water extraction and climate change) interact to influence biodiversity and ecosystem processes, but direct evidence for interactions among multiple pressures is limited. Floodplain forests are an acute example of how interacting pressures (river regulation, water extraction, decreasing rainfall and mammal browsing) interact to degrade native ecosystems. We conducted a 2-year field experiment to determine how flooding, browsing and sediment salinity interacted to determine in situ seedling survival and growth of the keystone floodplain tree species (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh.). On semi-arid floodplains of southern Australia, 1-year-old seedlings were planted on the banks of six ephemeral creeks, three of which were flooded with management flows before planting while the others remained dry. Four plots were established at each creek, two open to browsing and two fenced to exclude mammal herbivores. Flooding had a strong positive effect on seedling survival and height, but browsing had strong negative effects. Sediment salinity (a covariate rather than a designed effect) had a weak negative effect on seedling survival and height. The positive effects of flooding were largely offset by the negative interaction with browsing and, to a lesser extent, sediment salinity. Although flooding has been restored to some degraded floodplain forests subjected to river regulation and a drying climate, the long-term success of such actions is likely to be undermined by persistent browsing. Synthesis and applications. Management actions that focus on single pressures (e.g. infrequent flooding) and processes (e.g. mature tree survival) while ignoring other pressures are unlikely to sustain populations of keystone species, suggesting that complementary strategies (managed flooding with herbivore control) are necessary to sustain recruitment and, therefore, ensure the future health of these essential ecosystems.

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    KW - multiple pressures

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    KW - recruitment

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