Advertisement

Plant and Soil

, Volume 281, Issue 1–2, pp 255–268 | Cite as

Diversity and Abundance of Biological Soil Crust Taxa in Relation to Fine and Coarse-Scale Disturbances in a Grassy Eucalypt Woodland in Eastern Australia

  • David J. Eldridge
  • David Freudenberger
  • Terry B. Koen
Article

Abstract

Over the last 200 years the box woodlands of eastern Australia have been considerably altered by European farming practices. These changes have been accompanied by a reduction in the size and number of patches of vegetation as well as the quality of the understorey vegetation and underlying soil surface. We measured diversity and abundance of soil crust taxa in relation to habitat complexity, remnant area and width, diversity of vascular plants as well as the number, size and separation of patches of vegetation and grass butts (coarse-scale patchiness), and an index of surface stability derived from measures of seven soil surface features of small microsites (patches of bare/crusted, litter- or grass-covered soil; micro-scale) on both coarse- and fine-textured soils at 35 sites in south-eastern Australia. Fifty taxa were recorded from the 35 sites, and there were more taxa from sites with fine-textured soils (12.7) compared with coarse-textured soils (4.4). The soil crust community was dominated by a few relatively common species, with many species occurring at only a few sites. Half the number of species accounting for <1% of total abundance. Bare and crusted microsites supported more species and greater cover compared with grassy microsites. Crust diversity declined with increasing coarse-level disturbances (i.e. declines in habitat complexity, remnant area and width, and diversity of vascular plants) but the results were not consistent between soil types. No measures of fine-scale disturbance were related significantly to any of the crust diversity or abundance measures, and there was no evidence of a recent grazing effect on crust composition. The fact that few sites had many species (and visa versa) suggests to us that many sites are probably required to conserve soil crust taxa in these highly fragmented landscapes

Keywords

cryptogam disturbance non-vascular plants patchiness woodlands woodland condition 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, D C, Harper, K T, Rushforth, S R 1982Recovery of cryptogamic crusts from grazing on Utah winter rangesJ. Range Manage.35355359Google Scholar
  2. Beattie J A 1972 Groundsurfaces of the Wagga Wagga Region, New South Wales Soil Publication No. 28. CSIRO, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertocchi, C, Navarini, L, Cesaro, A 1990Polysaccharides from cyanobacteriaCarb. Poly.12127153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bird, P R, Bicknell, D, Bulman, P A, Burke, S J A, Leys, J F, Parker, J N, Sommen, F J, Voller, P 1992The role of shelter in Australia for protecting soils, plants and livestockAgroforest. Syst.205986CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braunack, M V, Walker, J 1985Recovery of some surface soil properties of ecological interest after sheep grazing in semi-arid woodlandAust. J. Ecol.10451460Google Scholar
  6. Bureau of Meteorology 1975 Climatic Averages Australia. Department of Science and Consumer Affairs. Aust. Government Publishing Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  7. Butler B E 1958 Depositional Systems of the Riverine Plain in Relation to Soils. Soil Publication No. 10. CSIRO, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  8. Catcheside, D G 1980 Mosses of South AustraliaGovernment PrinterAdelaide, South AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  9. Catling, P C, Burt, R J 1995Studies of the ground-dwelling mammals of Eucalypt forests in south-eastern New South Wales: the effect of habitat variables on distribution and abundanceWildl. Res.22271288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clarke, K R 1993Non-parametric analyses of changes in community structureAust. J. Ecol.18117143Google Scholar
  11. Clarke K R and Warwick R M 1994 Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation, Natural Environment Research Council, UK.Google Scholar
  12. Cole, R D N 1990Trampling disturbance and recovery of cryptogamic soil crusts in Grand Canyon National ParkGreat Basin Nat.50321325Google Scholar
  13. Soyza, A, Whitford, W, Herrick, J, Zee, J, Havstad, K 1998Early warning indicators of desertification: examples of tests in the Chihuahuan DesertJ. Arid Environ.39101112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Downing, A J, Selkirk, P M 1993Bryophytes on the calcareous soils of Mungo National Park, an arid area of southern central AustraliaGreat Basin Nat.531323Google Scholar
  15. Dunkerley, D L 2000Hydrological effects of dryland shrubs: defining the spatial extent of modified soil water uptake rates at an Australian desert siteJ. Arid Environ.45159172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eldridge, D J 1998Trampling of microphytic crusts on calcareous soils and its impact on erosion under rain-impacted flowCatena33221239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eldridge, D J 2001a Biological soil crusts of AustraliaBelnap, JLange., O eds. Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Management and Function. Ecological Studies 150Springer-VerlagBerlin119132Google Scholar
  18. Eldridge, D J 2001b Biological soil crusts and water relations in Australian desertsBelnap, JLange, O eds. Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Management and Function. Ecological Studies 150Springer-VerlagBerlin315326Google Scholar
  19. Eldridge, D J, Freudenberger, D 2005Ecosystem wicks: Woodland trees enhance water infiltration in a fragmented agricultural landscape in eastern AustraliaAustral Ecol.30336347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eldridge, D J, Tozer, M E 1996Distribution and floristics of bryophytes in soil crusts in semi-arid and arid eastern AustraliaAust. J. Bot.44223247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Eldridge, D J, Zaady, E, Shachak, M 2002The impact of disturbance on runoff and sediment production and its implications for the management of desert ecosystemsLandsc. Ecol.17587597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eldridge, D J, Wong, V N L 2004Clumped and isolated trees influence soil nutrient levels in an Australian temperate box woodlandPlant Soil270331342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Evans, R D, Johansen, J R 1999Microbiotic crusts and ecosystem processesCrit. Rev. Plant Sci.18183225Google Scholar
  24. Fensham, R J, Holman, J E, Cox, M J 1999Plant species responses along a grazing disturbance gradient in an Australian grasslandJ. Veget. Sci.107786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Filson, R B, Rogers, R W 1979 Lichens of South AustraliaGovernment PrinterSouth AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  26. Freudenberger D and Stol J 2002 Savernake and Native Dog (SAND) Farmscapes Project: Integrating production and biodiversity. A report commissioned by the Native Dog Landcare Group (sub-committee of the Berrigan Shire, NSW). CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems Canberra. (http://www.cse.csiro.au/research/Program2/SAND/index.htm)
  27. Garkaklis, M J, Bradley, J R, Wooley, R D 2004Digging and soil turnover by a mycophagous marsupialJ. Arid Environ.56669578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Isbell, R F 1996 The Australian Soil ClassificationCSIROMelbourneGoogle Scholar
  29. Jones, C G, Lawton, J H, Shachak, M 1997Positive and negative effects of organisms as physical ecosystem engineersEcology7819461957Google Scholar
  30. Kent, K, Earl, G, Mullins, B, Lunt, I, Webster, R 2002 Native Vegetation Guide for the Riverina: Notes for Land Managers in its Management and RevegetationJohnstone Centre, Charles Sturt UniversityAlburyGoogle Scholar
  31. Lesica, P, Shelley, J S 1992Effects of cryptogamic soil crusts on the population dynamics of Arabis fecunda (Brassicaceae)Amer. Midl. Nat.1285360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ludwig, J A, Tongway, D J 1995Spatial organisation of landscapes and its function in semi-arid woodlands, AustraliaLandsc. Ecol.105163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Macarthur, R H, Wilson, E O 1967 The Theory of Island BiogeographyPrinceton University PressNew JerseyGoogle Scholar
  34. McCarthy, P M 1991aThe lichen genus Endocarpon Hedwig in AustraliaLichenologist232752Google Scholar
  35. McCarthy, P M 1991b Checklist of Australian LichensNational Herbarium of VictoriaMelbourneGoogle Scholar
  36. McIntyre, S, Tongway, D J 2005Grassland structure in native pastures: links to soil surface conditionEcol. Manage. Restor.64350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Minitab 1997 MINITAB References Manual, Release 10.1, Minitab Inc, State College, PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
  38. Moore, R M 1970 South-eastern temperate woodlands and grasslandsMoore, R eds. Australian GrasslandsAustralian National University PressCanberra169190Google Scholar
  39. Northcote, KH 1966 Atlas of Australian Soils, Explanatory Data for Sheet 3, Sydney-Canberra-Bourke-Armidale AreaCSIROMelbourneGoogle Scholar
  40. Prober, S M, Thiele, K R 1995Conservation of grassy white box woodlands: Relative contributions of size and disturbance to floristic composition and diversity of remnantsAust. J. Bot.43349366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Robertson, G 1996Saline land in Australia – its extent and predicted trendsAust. J. Water Cons.947Google Scholar
  42. Rogers, R W 1977 Lichens in hot arid and semi-arid landsSeaward, MRD eds. Lichen EcologyAcademy PressLondon211252Google Scholar
  43. Rogers, R W, Lange, R T 1971Lichen populations on arid soil crusts around sheep watering places in South AustraliaOikos2293100Google Scholar
  44. Rogers, R W, Lange, R T 1972Soil surface lichens in arid and semi-arid south eastern Australia I Introduction and floristicsAust. J. Bot.20197213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Scott, G A M, Stone, I G 1976 The mosses of Southern AustraliaAustralian Government Publishing ServiceCanberraGoogle Scholar
  46. Scott, G A M 1985 Southern Australian LiverwortsAustralian Government Publishing ServiceCanberraGoogle Scholar
  47. St Clair, L L, Webb, B L, Johansen, J R, Nebeker, G T 1984Cryptogamic soil crusts: enhancement of seedling establishment in disturbed and undisturbed areasReclam. Reveg. Res.3129136Google Scholar
  48. Streimann, H, Curnow, J 1989 Catalogue of mosses of Australia and its external territoriesAustralian Government Publishing ServiceCanberraGoogle Scholar
  49. Tongway, D J, Hindley, N 1995 Manual for Soil Condition Assessment of Tropical GrasslandsCSIRO Division of Wildlife and EcologyCanberraGoogle Scholar
  50. Tongway, D J 1995Measuring soil productive potentialEnvir. Monit. Assess.37303318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tongway, D J, Ludwig, J A 1994Small-scale resource heterogeneity in semi-arid landscapesPacific Cons. Biol.1201208Google Scholar
  52. Watson, J, Freudenberger, D, Paull, D 2001An assessment of the focal species approach for conserving birds in variegated landscapes in southeastern AustraliaCons. Biol.1513641373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Warren, S D, Eldridge, D J 2001 Biological soil crusts and livestock in arid regions: are they compatible?Belnap, JLange, O eds. Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Management and Function. Ecological Studies 150Springer-VerlagBerlin401416Google Scholar
  54. West, N E 1990Structure and function of microphytic soil crusts in wild land ecosystems of arid to semi-arid regionsAdv. Ecol. Res.20179223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yates, C J, Hobbs, R J 1997Temperate Eucalypt woodlands: A review of their status, processes threatening their persistence and techniques for restorationAust. J. Bot.45949973CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yates, C J, Norton, D A, Hobbs, R J 2000Grazing effect on plant cover, soil and microclimate in fragmented woodlands in south western Australia: implications for restorationAust. Ecol.253647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zaady, E, Shachak, M 1994Microphytic soil crust and ecosystem leakage in the Negev DesertAmer. J. Bot.81109Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Eldridge
    • 1
  • David Freudenberger
    • 2
  • Terry B. Koen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of NSWSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Natural ResourcesCowraAustralia

Personalised recommendations