Grazing by Kangaroos Limits the Establishment of the Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea gracilis and X. preissii in Restored Bauxite Mines in Eucalypt Forest of Southwestern Australia



This study examined factors affecting germination, survival, and growth of the grass trees Xanthorrhoea gracilis and X. preissii on newly rehabilitated bauxite mine pits in the jarrah forest of southwestern Australia. Grazing by kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) was the major factor in reducing survival and growth of both species during the first 2 years. Provision of artificial grazing protection increased survival and growth (plant mass) of both species by 3-fold. Grazing by native vertebrates has not previously been identified as affecting mine restoration in Western Australia. Initial germination rates from sown seeds of X. preissii at eight replicate sites ranged from 25 to 64% with a mean of 42%. Corresponding figures for X. gracilis were 5–42% with a mean of 17%. Germination of X. gracilis was greater on heavier, moister soils, but X. preissii germinated better on sandier soils. High levels of initial germination did not ensure high survival. Plants of both species grew bigger and survived better on the lighter, sandy soils. Xanthorrhoea seedlings located in the depressions created by the ripping process grew larger than seedlings on the slopes of the riplines. The presence of plants of other species did not have a significant effect on survival. However, these plants facilitated the growth of both species when artificial grazing protection was unavailable. Plants of other species reduced the growth rates of Xanthorrhoea seedlings where artificial grazing protection was provided. Artificial shade by itself had no significant effect on growth of either species. In rehabilitated bauxite mines in the jarrah forest, the provision of grazing protection is recommended to ensure successful establishment and early survival of Xanthorrhoea spp.