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Keywords:

  • dry sclerophyllforest;
  • overstorey cover;
  • regeneration;
  • vegetation thickening;
  • woody weed

Summary

Violet Kunzea (Kunzea parvifolia), a native shrub of eastern Australia, is reputed to form dense thickets in areas that have undergone significant landscape modification, and has been listed as an invasive native species for which clearing is permitted under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NSW). We quantified factors controlling its abundance in 81 sites within the Braidwood region of NSW, on the basis of 36 strata reflecting soil landscape, topographic position, aspect and canopy cover. Within each study site 34 variables describing environmental, disturbance, management and vegetation attributes were measured using a transect sampling technique and landowner surveys. An analysis of these data indicated that, in the sites we surveyed, Violet Kunzea is a common shrub present at relatively high mean levels of cover (44%), with no preferred topographic position or aspect. There were no significant associations between management activities such as slashing or grazing, and the cover of Violet Kunzea. Multiple regression modelling indicated that overstorey cover was the key variable explaining variation in the cover of Violet Kunzea, with an increase in cover of the shrub as overstorey cover declined. We conclude that a reduction in overstorey cover results in an increase in Violet Kunzea abundance as competition is removed, and the subsequent suppression of overstorey regeneration sets up a feedback loop facilitating the further expansion of Violet Kunzea and the contraction of overstorey cover. Approaches to the management of this species will therefore require long-term commitments to conserve and restore overstorey cover.