Environmental Management

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 511–521 | Cite as

Plant morphological characteristics and resistance to simulated trampling

  • Dan Sun
  • Michael J. Liddle


The relationship between responses of plants to trampling and their morphological characteristics was studied in a glasshouse experiment. Thirteen species with four different growth forms were used in this experiment. They were five tussock species.Chloris gayana, Eragrostis tenuifolia, Lolium perenne, Panicum maximum, andSporobolus elongatus; three prostate grasses,Axonopus compressus, Cynodon dactylon, andTrifolium repens, two herbaceous species,Daucus glochidiatus andHypochoeris radicata; and three woody species,Acacia macradenia, Acrotriche aggregata, andSida rhombifolia. These species were subjected to three levels of simulated trampling. For each species, measurements were taken of aboveground biomass, root biomass, leaf length, leaf width, leaf thickness, leaf number, broken leaf number and plant height. Overall, these measurements were greatest in the control plants, moderate in the level of light trampling, and the lowest in the level of heavy trampling. Biomass was used as a basis of the assessment of plant resistance to trampling. Three tussock species,Eragrostis tenuifolia, Lolium perenne, andSporobolus elongatus had a high resistance. Woody and erect herbaceous plants were more intolerant to trampling. There appear to be two processes involved in the reduction of the plant parameters: direct physical damage with portions of the plants detached, and physiological changes, which slow down vegetative growth rates. Plant height was found to be the most sensitive indicator of trampling damage.

Key words

Plant morphology Trampling Resistance 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Sun
    • 1
  • Michael J. Liddle
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Australian Environmental StudiesGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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