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Rice University

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action

Abstract

Southern Tasmania is home to fire dependent mixed forests, which, if not maintained, will eventually be replaced by the rainforest understorey. Wet eucalypt forest succession after disturbance events was investigated through floristic and vertical measurements of four north facing chronosequence plots with labels describing the age class of each, from regrowth to mature sites. This study was possible due to the establishment of permanent 50m x 50m plots in 2007 for longitudinal monitoring and subsequent illustration of forest dynamics following disturbance, including clearfell burns and wildfire. The contents of this report are the comparative analyses of the findings from the first two installments of the methods, which were employed ten years apart.

The implications of this research include evidence for the protection of carbon dense old growth forests and the production of an empirical successional model by which human-induced landscape treatments can be fashioned after. This project is one of the first of its kind in the country of Australia, as it will ultimately produce experiential data of wet eucalypt succession in real time.

The collected data described no significant floristic change over one decade. More time must be allocated to the decadal interval studies before such change will be evident as forest succession occurs on the scale of centuries. In the same time span, substantial structural change was described by the findings for individual species within each plot. These variations over time were consistent with Clement’s classical successional theory and Gilbert’s climax vegetation progression.

Disciplines

Environmental Monitoring | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Forest Biology | Forest Management

 

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