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Effects of salinity and waterlogging on the vegetation of Lake Toolibin, Western Australia

Froend, R.H., Heddle, E.M., Bell, D.T. and McComb, A.J. (1987) Effects of salinity and waterlogging on the vegetation of Lake Toolibin, Western Australia. Austral Ecology, 12 (3). pp. 281-298.

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Increased rates of tree senescence and mortality in and adjacent to an ephemeral lake in the Western Australian wheatbelt have been attributed to increased levels of soil salinity and inundation following agricultural clearing. Winter lake salinities approximate freshwater lake values, but during periods when the lake is dry, capillary rise of groundwater is thought to increase surface soil salinity.

An undescribed species of Melaleuca and Casuarina obesa dominated the seasonally inundated regions of the lake bed. Aeolian deposits of higher elevation were dominated by Eucalyptus loxophleba, Allocasuarina huegeliana or species of Banksia. Woodland of E. oleosa var. longicornis and E. salmonophloia occurred predominantly on upland fluviatile deposits of sand and sandy clays.

Measurements of soil salinity and the calculation of percentage inundation from tree elevations and observations of tree vigour and xylem pressure potential response indicated that tree deaths in Melaleuca sp. and C. obesa were due to increased levels of salinity. Deaths and low vigours in E. rudis were attributed to both increasing salinities and prolonged inundation. We believe control of ground water levels should be a major consideration in the preservation of this ephemeral lake and the water fowl populations it supports.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
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