Alpine grazing: does it reduce blazing?

Walsh N.G., McDougall K.L. (2004) Progress in the recovery of the flora of treeless subalpine vegetation in Kosciuszko National Park after the 2003 fires. Cunninghamia 8, 439–452.

Aim: 
To assess the mode and extent of regeneration of plants in treeless subalpine plant communities of Kosciuszko National Park that were burnt in the 2003 alpine fires
Type of Study: 
Natural experiment
Key Results: 
Twenty-four species (including 3 exotics) were recorded only in the pre-fire sampling. Fifty species (including 18 exotics) were recorded only in the post-fire sampling. One species, Chenopodium erosum, had not previously been recorded in Kosciuszko National Park, and is believed to be the first native chenopod recorded in alpine vegetation in Australia. There was no significant difference in mean number of species per quadrat between pre-fire and post-fire quadrats. The average number of weeds per quadrat was, however, significantly greater post-fire. Most of this difference was attributable to the significantly greater number of weeds per quadrat in bog vegetation after the fire. (pp. 439).
Treatments: 
Sites were surveyed pre- and post-fire, and were located in one of several vegetation groupings.
Response: 
Based on the regeneration observed, most plant communities will return naturally to their pre-fire species composition and cover over a period between a few years and a few decades. Major exceptions will be those communities where the ‘keystone’ species appear to have been lost at least at a local scale.' (pp. 439) These include: Sphagnum cristatum bog communities, Podocarpus lawrencei shrublands and Celmisia costiniana closed herbfields. Fire should be excluded from these communities until their recovery is complete and consideration might be given to augmenting/monitoring their recovery (pp. 349).
Models: 
Frequentist (P values): t-test
Comments: 
Clear demonstration of early post-fire patterns of regeneration in alpine vegetation. Consistent with Wahren et al. (2001).
Reviewer: 
Imogen Fraser; Dick Williams
Locations: 
Treeless subalpine plains, Kosciuszko National Park, New South Whales, Australia
Response variable : 
Species composition and cover (Braun-Blanquet cover scale); total vegetative cover; method of regeneration for each species and phenological (flowering/vegetative) state.
Replication: 
6 quadrats (5 x 5 m) per site.
Ecosystem: 
Subalpine bog/wet heath, fen/ wet grassland, dry grassland, open heathland and closed heathland.
Survey: 
215 sites sampled in 2002, 60 re-sampled in 2003.
Full Reference: 
Walsh N.G., McDougall K.L. (2004) Progress in the recovery of the flora of treeless subalpine vegetation in Kosciuszko National Park after the 2003 fires. Cunninghamia 8, 439–452.