Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Geography


This study investigated the changes in the species composition and species distribution within a Hawkesbury sandstone plant community after disturbance by a fire. It aimed to compare the post-fire recovery process observed in this plant community with the models of succession which are most frequently employed to describe recovery after recurrent disturbance. A long-term, diachronic study, incorporating detailed monitoring of the plant community, was chosen in an attempt to overcome the problems of interpretation of spatial variation which are inherent in any synchronic approach to the study of succession. The species composition of a Hawkesbury Sandstone plant community was assessed before it was experimentally burnt in 1973. Fire intensity, rate of spread, flame and scorch height were monitored in order to assess the fire's effect on the community. Permanent sampling grids of the different understorey species associations in the plant community were monitored periodically for 13 years after the fire.