Colonization by alpine native plants of a stabilized road verge on the Bogong High Plains, Victoria


  • By Keith L. McDougall

  • Keith McDougall is a botanist with National Parks and Wildlife Service New South Wales (P.O. Box 2115, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia. Email: This work commenced in the late 1980s, when the virtues of exotic species in alpine revegetation were being promoted over native species.


Summary Although many native species are now used in the revegetation of soil disturbances in Australian alpine areas, exotic species were, until recently, the only components of seed mixes. The use of exotic species and fertilizer was justified by their availability and low cost, and the prediction that native species would replace the exotic sward, presumably once soil nutrient levels dropped to those found in native vegetation. There was no apparent regard for the invasive capacities of the exotic species used. An investigation of a road verge on the Bogong High Plains, revegetated with a mixture of exotic species in the late 1950s, has shown that colonization by native plants can be very slow. Although many native species had colonized by 1993, exotic species still provided 50% of the cover. Agrostis capillaris accounted for most of this. The major native colonizers were Carex spp., Colobanthus affinis, Euchiton spp., Leptinella filicula, Poa hiemata, Ranunculus victoriensis and Scleranthus biflorus. Poa hiemata provided by far the most cover of the native colonizers. There have been considerable increases in the cover and number of native species on the verge since 1989. Cattle grazing and trampling are likely to have limited colonization of native plants prior to the removal of livestock in 1991. Recommendations are made on approaches to future revegetation in the alpine area.