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  • SOILS, SEC 2 • GLOBAL CHANGE, ENVIRON RISK ASSESS, SUSTAINABLE LAND USE • RESEARCH ARTICLE
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Ecophysiological status of different growth stage of understorey Acacia leiocalyx and Acacia disparrima in an Australian dry sclerophyll forest subjected to prescribed burning

Abstract

Purpose

Understorey Acacia spp. plays an important role in post-fire restoration because these understorey plants are tolerant to stress conditions. We investigated how the ecophysiological status of two species of understorey, Acacia leiocalyx and Acacia disparrima, varied depending on the plant growth stage after prescribed burning.

Materials and methods

Plants were grouped in different size classes, namely seedlings, small and medium sizes, and physiological variables such as foliar gas exchange, water use efficiency and light dependency were measured at two experimental sites subjected to prescribed burning.

Results and discussion

A. leiocalyx showed higher symbiotic N2 fixation and photosynthetic capacity compared to A. disparrima regardless of plant-size classes at both experimental sites. This could explain the greater relative growth rate of A. leiocalyx than that of A. disparrima. However, A. disparrima is more tolerant to shady conditions than A. leiocalyx.

Conclusions

This finding may be an indication of how well these two species recover after fire, although A. leiocalyx may have faster regrowth, as it is fixing more N.

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Acknowledgements

The study was partially funded by the Australian Discovery Research Council grant. The authors would also like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support and assistance of Powerlink QLD through the provision of a full time research scholarship. The authors are particularly grateful to Ms. Elizabeth Gordon and Marijke Heenan for their technical supports and Mr. Bob Coutts for identifying plant species at the experimental sites. The authors are also grateful to Dr Frédérique Reverchon for her valuable comments to improve the initial manuscript.

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Correspondence to Shahla Hosseini Bai.

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Responsible editor: Hailong Wang

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Hosseini Bai, S., Sun, F., Xu, Z. et al. Ecophysiological status of different growth stage of understorey Acacia leiocalyx and Acacia disparrima in an Australian dry sclerophyll forest subjected to prescribed burning. J Soils Sediments 13, 1378–1385 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-013-0747-6

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Keywords

  • Foliar gas exchange
  • Growth
  • Light response
  • Understorey Acacia spp
  • Water use efficiency