Relating pine-litter intrusion to plant-community structure in native eucalypt woodland adjacent to Pinus radiata (Pinaceae) plantations

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Botany, 2007, 55 (5), pp. 521 - 532
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Radiata pine (Pinus radiata D.Don) plantations are often found in close proximity to vegetation set aside for biodiversity conservation. We examined the intrusive effects of radiata pine beyond the confines of plantations by quantifying the penetration of pine litter (needles, cones, twigs and seeds) and wildings from plantations into adjacent eucalypt woodland in the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve (south-eastern Australia). We then investigated the relationship between pine-litter intrusion and plant-community structure in adjacent woodland vegetation. We found significantly higher quantities of pine litter and wildings at all sites adjacent to plantations than at reference woodland sites that were not adjacent to plantations. At adjacent sites, pine litter decreased significantly with increasing distance from plantations. Alarmingly, native plant species richness declined and exotic plant species richness increased with increasing quantities of pine litter. Thus, there were fewer native plant species and more exotics in areas bordering pine plantations. Our findings suggest a potentially important link between the intrusion of pine litter and a loss of native biodiversity and facilitation of exotic-species invasion. We suggest the provision of a buffer zone around plantations in order to minimise intrusive impacts of plantations on native biodiversity. © CSIRO 2007.
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