Remnant stands of the non-bradysporous Banksia integrifolia on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria appear to be in decline due to old age and other unknown factors. Many stands have been unburnt for >55-100 years and there is little evidence of successful regeneration by seed. The cause(s) for this lack of recruitment are unclear. In the present study we quantified (i) seed production and germinability in four remnant forests in the region; (ii) the microsite conditions necessary for seedling emergence; and (iii) the effect of herbivore browsing on early seedling survival in order to understand this apparent recruitment failure. Despite large intra-annual variation, no evidence was found that old forest trees do not produce viable seed. Emergence and survival of seedlings were not inhibited by the presence of groundlayer vegetation. Rather, vegetation facilitated early seedling survival by providing protection from browsing. Seedling transplants exhibited extremely high mortality (≥75%) due to browsing and summer soil desiccation and these factors appear to be major contributors to the lack of recruitment at the study site. Stand-replacing recruitment is therefore considered to remain unlikely under the present conditions. Developing fire and/or grazing management regimes will be necessary to conserve the structural integrity of these coastal ecosystems.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|