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Decline of Callitris intratropica R. T. Baker & H. G. Smith in the Northern Territory: Implications for Pre- and Post-European Colonization Fire Regimes

D. M. J. S. Bowman and W. J. Panton
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 20, No. 4 (Jul., 1993), pp. 373-381
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845586
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845586
Page Count: 9
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Decline of Callitris intratropica R. T. Baker & H. G. Smith in the Northern Territory: Implications for Pre- and Post-European Colonization Fire Regimes
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Abstract

Callitris intratropica R. T. Baker & H. G. Smith occurs in a range of environments throughout the lower latitudes of the Northern Territory. A geographic survey of the demographic structure of stands revealed a continuum ranging for populations which have a majority of dead individuals, a lack of regeneration and fire-scarred living adults, to stands with few dead or damaged individuals and a heaqvy stocking of juveniles. A TWINSPAN classification divided this continuum into four groups. There were no significant differences between the cover of rocks, grass or shrubs between the four groups of stands, nor was there a significant association with substrate type. Damaged stands were most common and occurred throughout the species' range, while the healthier stands were more typical on coastal sites with >30% tree canopy cover. Stands with dense regeneration were significantly associated with an area actively protected from fire by a forestry operation. A helicopter survey on parts of the remote and currently uninhabited Arnhem Land Plateau revealed a significantly greater count of dead stems than counts of living C. intratropica trees. Detailed studies at one site on the Arnhem Land Plateau showed that there is currently a high mortality of tagged stems, and that the abundant C. intratropica stags died since the 1940s. It is argued that the widespreadt crash of C. intratropica populations is a response to a change in fire regime associated with the coming of Europeans.

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