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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Australie → 2007 → Effects of sheep, kangaroos and rabbits on the regeneration of trees and shrubs in the chenopod shrublands, South Australia

University of South Australia Australie (2007)

Effects of sheep, kangaroos and rabbits on the regeneration of trees and shrubs in the chenopod shrublands, South Australia

Palisetty, Raghunadh

Titre : Effects of sheep, kangaroos and rabbits on the regeneration of trees and shrubs in the chenopod shrublands, South Australia

Auteur : Palisetty, Raghunadh

Université de soutenance : University of South Australia

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy PhD 2007

Résumé
After European settlement, Australian rangelands especially in South Australia underwent significant changes because of the main land use of pastoralism. Many studies have revealed that the plant communities are negatively effected by herbivory mainly by sheep. The main aim of this study is to separate the different effects of sheep, rabbits and kangaroos. This was examined by survey supported by experimental and modelling research. A 32,000 km² area previously surveyed by Tiver and Andrew (1997) in eastern South Australia was re-surveyed to monitor populations of perennial plant species at sites of various intensity of grazing by sheep, rabbits and kangaroos (goats populations are low in the study area), the most important vertebrate herbivores. Plant population data were collected in both sheep paddocks and historically ungrazed by sheep (road reserves) by using the Random Walk method and analyzed using Generalized Linear Modelling (GLM) to separate the effects of sheep and rabbits on plant regeneration and their regeneration in response to grazing. These data were also compared to similar data collected by Tiver and Andrew in 1992 (1997) to ascertain if the reduction in rabbit numbers through introduction of RCV had allowed increased regeneration. Regeneration of many species inside paddocks were negatively affected and species in roadside reserves neither did not significantly increase from 1992 to 2004. However, some species showed increase of populations in spite of sheep grazing, with some species being less susceptible than others. This research also indicates kangaroo grazing impact on some plant species. Reduction in rabbit numbers following the 1995 release of calicivirus has not been effective in restoring regeneration. Another experiment was conducted at Middleback Field Station near Whyalla to identify herbivore grazing pressure on the arid zone plant species Acacia aneura using unfenced, sheep fenced and rabbit fenced grazing exclosures. This experiment was set up with seedlings in exclosures, ten replicates of each treatment, at plots four different distances from the watering point to identify the survivorship of seedlings. Data were collected by recording canopy volumes of seedling over an 18 month period and analyzed by Residual Maximal Likelihood (REML). Seedlings both near and far from the watering point were severely effected by large herbivores, either sheep, kangaroos or both, and in a separate experiment kangaroo grazing effects on the seedling were also identified. Seedlings browsed by the rabbits were recovered better than the seedlings grazed by the large herbivores. Decreasing kangaroo activities has been noticed when the rabbit movements increased. Computer modelling was conducted to predict the future plant population structure over 500 years using a matrix population model developed by Tiver et al. (2006) and using data collected in the survey as a starting point. Extinction probabilities of populations of Acacia aneura near watering points, far from watering points and under pulse grazing scenarios were compared. Sheep grazing was found to cause eventual extinction of populations in all parts of sheep paddocks. Together, the results indicate that sheep are the major herbivore suppressing regeneration of perennial plant species. Kangaroo and rabbits have an identifiable but lesser effect. The results have implications for conservation and pastoral management. To achieve ecological sustainability of arid lands a land-use system including a network of reserves ungrazed by sheep and with control of both rabbit and kangaroo numbers will be required. A 32,000 km² area previously surveyed by Tiver and Andrew (1997) in eastern South Australia was re-surveyed to monitor populations of perennial plant species at sites of various intensity of grazing by sheep, rabbits and kangaroos (goats populations are low in the study area), the most important vertebrate herbivores. Plant population data were collected in both sheep paddocks and historically ungrazed by sheep (road reserves) by using the Random Walk method and analysed using Generalized Linear Modelling (GLM) to separate the effects of sheep and rabbits on plant regeneration and their regeneration in response to grazing. These data were also compared to similar data collected by Tiver and Andrew in 1992 (1997) to ascertain if the reduction in rabbit numbers through introduction of RCV had allowed increased regeneration. Regeneration of many species inside paddocks were negatively affected and species in roadside reserves did not significantly increase from 1992 to 2004. However, some species showed increase of populations in spite of sheep grazing, with some species being less susceptible than others. This research also indicates kangaroo grazing impact on some plant species. Reduction in rabbit numbers following the 1995 release of calicivirus has not been effective in restoring regeneration. Another experiment was conducted at Middleback Field Station near Whyalla to identify herbivore grazing pressure on the arid zone plant species Acacia aneura using unfenced, sheep fenced and rabbit fenced grazing exclosures. This experiment was set up with seedlings in exclosures, ten replicates of each treatment, at plots four different distances from the watering point to identify the survivorship of seedlings. Data were collected by recording canopy volumes of seedling over an 18 month period and analysed by Residual Maximal Likelihood (REML). Seedlings both near and far from the watering point were severely affected by large herbivores, either sheep, kangaroos or both, and in a separate experiment kangaroo grazing effects on the seedling were also identified. Seedlings browsed by the rabbits recovered better than the seedlings grazed by the large herbivores. Decreasing kangaroo activities has been noticed when the rabbit movements increased. Computer modelling was conducted to predict the future plant population structure over 500 years using a matrix population model developed by Tiver et al. (2006) and using data collected in the survey as a starting point. Extinction probabilities of populations of Acacia aneura near watering points, far from watering points and under pulse grazing scenarios were compared. Sheep grazing was found to cause eventual extinction of populations in all parts of sheep paddocks. Together, the results indicate that sheep are the major herbivore suppressing regeneration of perennial plant species. Kangaroo and rabbits have an identifiable but lesser effect. The results have implications for conservation and pastoral management. To achieve ecological sustainability of arid lands a land-use system including a network of reserves ungrazed by sheep and with control of both rabbit and kangaroo numbers will be required.

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