Post-fire recruitment and resprouting of a threatened montane eucalypt
Australian Journal of Botany
Changing climate is predicted to result in increased frequency and size of wildfires in south-eastern Australia. With increasing area burnt there is increased potential for entire species distributions to be burnt in a single fire event. This is particularly the case for range-restricted threatened species. Eucalyptus canobolensis (L.A.S.Johnson & K.D.Hill) J.T.Hunter is restricted to Mount Canobolas, New South Wales, Australia. In 2018, the majority of the E. canobolensis population was burnt by wildfire. One-year post-fire, we measured recruitment, resprouting and mortality of E. canobolensis. At higher fire severities, smaller trees were more likely to resprout from their bases only, as their stems were killed (i.e. 'top kill'). Seedling regeneration only occurred in burnt plots. Our study demonstrates that E. canobolensis has a fire response typical of many eucalypts, characterised by seedling recruitment and larger trees resprouting epicormically, even after high-severity fire. Nevertheless, E. canobolensis response to repeat and short-interval fire remains unknown, and smaller trees appear to be vulnerable to top kill. Although much of Australia's flora can respond to fire, this response is likely to be challenged as fire extents increase, especially if this is combined with increasing fire severity and/or frequency. These changes to the fire regime are a particular threat to species with restricted distributions.
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