, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 347–356 | Cite as

Growth indices — Their rôle in understanding the growth, structure and distribution of Australian vegetation

  • R. L. Specht


Growth indices, relating the relative growth of the photosynthetic canopy to light, temperature, moisture and soil nutrients, are described. Monthly values of these growth indices are multiplied, together with the foliage projective cover of the canopy, to give an estimate of the net photosynthetic index of the photosynthetic canopy.

An exponentially-increasing respiration index adjusts for the loss of photosynthates by respiration in stems and roots, thus allowing for an estimate of a Current Annual Growth Index and a Total Growth Index, at maturity.

A translocation index enables the partitioning of photosynthates between tops and roots to be estimated.

These growth indices are examined in relation to the structure, growth and distribution of Australian woody vegetation.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andrew CS, Bryan WW (1958) Pasture studies on the coastal lowlands of subtropical Queensland. Aust J Agric Res 9:267–285Google Scholar
  2. Attiwill PM (1964) Studies of soil fertility and plant nutrition in Eucalyptus obliqua. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Melbourne, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  3. Bazilevich NI, Rodin LE (1968) Reserves of organic matter in underground sphere of terrestrial phytocoenoses. In: Methods of productivity studies in root systems and rhizosphere organisms MS Ghilarov et al. (eds), Publ. House ‘Nauka’, Leningrad, U.S.S.R. pp 4–8Google Scholar
  4. Carrodus BB (1962) Some aspects of the ecology of arid South Australia: The relative distribution of Atriple vesicaria Heward ex Benth. and Kochia sedifolia F.v.M. Thesis, University of Adelaide, South AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  5. Dale WL (1973) Temperatures in a eucalypt forest. Aust For 36:100–113Google Scholar
  6. Davidson J (1936) Climate in relation to insect ecology in Australia. 3. Bioclimatic zones in Australia. Trans R Soc S Aust 60:88–92Google Scholar
  7. Davies JG, Scott AE, Fraser KM (1934) Natural pastures: Their response to superphosphate. Counc Sci Indust Res (Aust) Bull No 83:76 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. De Wit CT (1958) Transpiration and crop yields. Versl Landbouwk Onderz Ned 64:6Google Scholar
  9. Downes RW, Connor DJ (1973) Effect of growth environment on gas exchange characteristics of brigalow (Acacia harpophylla F. Muell.). Photosynthetica 7:34–40Google Scholar
  10. Fergus IF (1962) The nutrient status of some soils of the brigalow lands. CSIRO (Aust.), Div Soils, Div Rep 1/62, 17 ppGoogle Scholar
  11. Fielding JM (1966) The seasonal course of height growth and development of Pinus radiata. Aust For Res 2(1):46–50Google Scholar
  12. Fitzpatrick EA, Nix HA (1970) The climatic factor in Australian grassland ecology. In: Australian Grasslands (RM Moore, ed), pp 3–26. Aust Natn Univ Press: Canberra, ACT, AustGoogle Scholar
  13. Gill AM (1964) Soil-vegetation relationships near Kinglake West, Victoria. MSc Thesis, University of Melbourne, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  14. Gillison AN (1976) Autecology of the grey box (Eucalyptus moluccana Roxb s lat), Myrtaceae. PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, AustGoogle Scholar
  15. Groves, RH (1978) Growth of heath vegetation. IV Effects of temperature on growth of Banksia ornata, B. serrata and B. serratifolia. Aust J Bot 26:45–51Google Scholar
  16. Holland PG (1969) Weight dynamics of Eucalyptus in the mallee vegetation of south-east Australia. Ecology 50:212–218Google Scholar
  17. Howard TM (1973) Studies in the ecology of Nothofagus cunninghamii Oerst II Phenology Aust J Bot 21:79–92Google Scholar
  18. Johansen C, Andrew CS, Shaw NH, Tothill JC, Russell JS, Mannetje L't (1978) Nutrient status of some soils at the Narayen Research Station as measured by pot culture. CSIRO (Aust), Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, Trop Agron Tech Mem No 13, 8Google Scholar
  19. Maconochie JR, Lange RT (1970) Canopy dynamics of trees and shrubs with particular reference to the arid-zone topfeed species. Trans R Soc S Aust 94:243–248Google Scholar
  20. Mannetje L't (1967) Pasture improvement in the Eskdale District of South Eastern Queensland. Trop Grassl 1:9–19Google Scholar
  21. Moore AW, Russell JS, Coaldrake JE (1967) Dry matter and nutrient content of a subtropical semi-arid forest of Acacia harpophylla F Muell (brigalow). Aust J Bot 15:11–24Google Scholar
  22. Myer A (1926) Über einige Zusammenhänge zwischen Klima und Boden in Europa. In Chemie der Erde 2:209–347Google Scholar
  23. Prescott JA (1938) The climate of tropical agriculture in relation to possible agricultural occupation. Trans R Soc S Aust 62:229–240Google Scholar
  24. Prescott JA (1949–50) A climatic index for the leaching factor in soil formation. J Soil Sci 1:9–19Google Scholar
  25. Prescott JA, Collins JA, Shirpurkar GR (1952) The comparative climatology of Australia and Argentina. Geogr Rev 42:118–133Google Scholar
  26. Queensland Wheat Research Institute (1968–75) Nutrient screening Queensland cereal soils. Annual Reports, 1968–69 to 1974–75. Govt Printer, Brisbane, QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  27. Riceman DS (1948) Mineral deficiency in plants on the soils of the Ninety-Mile Plain in South Australia. 2. Effect of zinc, copper, and phosphate on subterranean clover and lucerne grown on Laffer Sand, near Keith. Counc Sci Industr Res (Aust) Bull No 234, 45 pp, 16 platesGoogle Scholar
  28. Riceman DS (1949) Mineral deficiency in plants on the soils of the Ninety-Mile Plain in South Australia. IV Effect of cover crops and phosphate on subterranean clover, lucerne, and phalaris sown with zinc and copper on Laffer Sand, near Keith. CSIRO (Aust) Bull No 249, 32 pp, 14 platesGoogle Scholar
  29. Russell JS (1967) Aspects of pasture growth on solodic soils. Trop Grassl 1:199–203Google Scholar
  30. Scurfield G (1961) The effects of temperature and day length on species of Eucalyptus. Aust J Bot 9:37–56Google Scholar
  31. Slatyer RO (1977) Altitudinal variation in the photosynthetic characteristics of snow gum, Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieb ex Spreng VI Comparison of field and phytotron responses to growth temperature. Aust J Plant Physiol 4:901–916Google Scholar
  32. Slatyer RO, Morrow PA (1977) Altitudinal variation in the photosynthetic characteristics of snow gum, Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieb ex Spreng. I. Seasonal changes under field conditions in the Snowy Mountains area of southeastern Australia. Aust J Bot 25:1–20Google Scholar
  33. Specht RL (1963) Dark Island heath (Ninety-Mile Plain, South Australia). VII. The effect of fertilizers on composition and growth, 1950–60. Aust J Bot 11:67–94Google Scholar
  34. Specht, RL (1970) Vegetation. In: The Australian Environment, 4th ed (G.W. Leeper, ed.), pp 44–67. CSIRO-Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  35. Specht RL (1972) Water use by perennial evergreen plant communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Aust J Bot 20:273–299Google Scholar
  36. Specht RL (1981a) The water relations of heathlands: Seasonal waterlogging. In: Ecosystems of the World. Vol 9B Heathlands and Related Shrublands. Analytical Studies, (R.L. Specht ed.), pp 99–106. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  37. Specht RL (1981b) Ecophysiological principles determining the biogeography of major vegetation formations in Australia. In: Ecological biogeography of Australia. (A. Keast ed.), pp 299–332 Junk, the HagueGoogle Scholar
  38. Specht RL (1981c) Primary production in mediterranean—climate ecosystems regenerating after fire. In: Ecosystems of the World. Vol 11 Mediterranean-type shrublands. (F. di Castri, D.W., Goodall and R.L. Specht eds.), pp 257–267. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  39. Specht RL, Brouwer YM (1975) Scasonal shoot growth of Eucalyptus spp in the Brisbane area of Queensland (with notes on shoot growth and litter fall in other areas of Australia). Aust J Bot 23:459–474Google Scholar
  40. Specht RL, Jones R (1971) A comparison of the water use by heath vegetation at Frankston, Victoria, and Dark Island Soak, South Australia. Aust J Bot 19:311–326Google Scholar
  41. Specht RL, Morgan DG (1981) The balance between the foliage projective covers of overstorey and understorey strata in Australian vegetation. Aust J Ecol 6:193–202Google Scholar
  42. Specht RL, Rayson P, Jackman ME (1958) Dark Island heath (Ninety-Mile Plain, South Australia). VI Pyric succession: Changes in composition, coverage, dry weight, and mineral nutrient status. Aust J Bot 6:59–88Google Scholar
  43. Specht RL, Rogers RW, Hopkins AJM (1981) Seasonal growth and flowering rhythms: Australian heathlands. In: Ecosystems of the World. Vol 9B Heathlands and Related Shrublands. Analytical Studies. (R.L. Specht ed.), pp 5–13. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  44. Specht RL, Moll EJ, Pressinger F, Somerville J (in press) Moisture regime and nutrient control of seasonal growth in mediterranean ecosystems. In: Nutrients as determinants of the structure and functioning of mediterranean-type ecosystems (F.J. Kruger ed.)Google Scholar
  45. Stewart R (1932) The Mitscherlich, Weismann, Neubauer methods of determining the nutrient content of soils. Imp Bur Soil Sci, Tech Comm 25Google Scholar
  46. Teitzel JK, Bruce RC (1971) Fertility studies of pasture soils in the wet tropical coast of Queensland. 2. Granitic soils. Aust J Expt Agric Anim Husb 11:77–84Google Scholar
  47. Teitzel JK, Bruce RC (1972) Fertilizer studies of pasture soils in the wet tropical coast of Queensland. 3. Basaltic soils. Aust J Expt Agric Anim Husb 12:49–54Google Scholar
  48. Transeau EN (1905) Forest centers of eastern America. Amer Nat 39:875–889Google Scholar
  49. Trumble HC (1937) The climatic control of agriculture in South Australia. Trans R Soc S Aust 61:41–62Google Scholar
  50. Trumble HC, Donald CM (1938) The relation of phosphate to the development of seeded pasture on a podsolised sand. Counc Sci Indust Res (Aust.) Bull No 116, 47 pp 8 platesGoogle Scholar
  51. Twentyman RL (1938) Pasture improvement. J Dept Agric Vict 36:157–170, 197–204, 214–224Google Scholar
  52. Van den Driessche R, Connor DJ, Tunstall BR (1971) Photosynthetic response of brigalow to irradiance, temperature and water potential. Photosynthetica 5:210–217Google Scholar
  53. Webb AA (1977) Studies on the gilgaied clay soils (Ug 5.2) of the Highworth land system in central Queensland. 2. Glasshouse assessment of plant nutrient status. Qld J Agric Anim Sci 34:67–74Google Scholar
  54. Winkworth RE (1967) The composition of several arid spinifex grasslands of central Australia in relation to rainfall, soil water relations, and nutrients. Aust J Bot 15:107–130Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Specht
    • 1
  1. 1.Botany DepartmentUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

Personalised recommendations