The peat-forming spring wetlands of the Strathbogie plateau - floristics and environmental relationships

Fiona Coates, Arn Tolsma
2012 Cunninghamia  
Spring wetlands on the Strathbogie plateau were mapped using recent aerial photography to estimate their current and former extent. The floristic composition and relationships of the vegetation with topographic, environmental and land use variables were interpreted from an analysis of quadrat data. Wetland condition, threats to their persistence and future management requirements were also identified. More than half of the original wetland vegetation in the study area appears to have been lost,
more » ... probably as a result of clearing for agriculture. Nine floristic assemblages, identified using agglomerative hierarchical clustering, were identified on acidic to mildly alkaline peat in five different hydrogeomorphic settings. One of these assemblages (Low Open Sedgeland) was uniquely confined to spring-fed mounds, not previously described in Victoria. A key to identification of these groups was developed. Floristic composition was correlated with climate and site disturbance but charcoal throughout sediment cores suggested that historical disturbance regimes included fire. Forested sites at higher elevations where grazing pressure appears to have been less intense were the least disturbed sites. Approximately 60% of the wetlands surveyed were assessed as showing signs of soil moisture loss but there was no evidence that water extraction via dams and known bores was a significant driver of current vegetation composition. Threats requiring management were related to habitat destruction and degradation, dysfunction of physical and biological processes, and changes to disturbance regimes. Establishment of native vegetation buffers and biomass management are likely to be of benefit for future management of spring wetland vegetation.
doi:10.7751/cunninghamia.2012.12.025 fatcat:77mupgfuirfk7on4e24p33zpli