Altitudinal and successional variation in the vegetation of the northern part of the West Coast Range, Tasmania



Thirteen floristic communities are recognized by numerical analysis of the vegetation of a part of the West Coast Range containing the climatic station with the highest mean annual precipitation in temperate Australia, and a variation in altitude from 400 to 1200 m. These communities form an altitude-related sequence with a perceptible break at the transition to alpine vegetation. Within rainforest three intergrading groups also form an altitudinal sequence. However, total environmental stress, as reflected in growth rates, is hypothesized to control this floristic and richness gradient. Direct and indirect gradient analysis reveals a lowland successional sequence from sedgeland to rainforest. Although some alpine communities are clearly the product of firing of others, there is no analogue of the lowland sedgelands. Fire-induced change in both alpine vegetation and rainforest can be extremely long term. Soil drainage is important in the differentiation of both lowland and alpine communities.