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Digging by vertebrates as an activity promoting the development of water-repellent patches in sub-surface soil

Garkaklis, M.J., Bradley, J.S. and Wooller, R.D. (2000) Digging by vertebrates as an activity promoting the development of water-repellent patches in sub-surface soil. Journal of Arid Environments, 45 (1). pp. 35-42.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jare.1999.0603
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Abstract

Dry sclerophyll woodlands in south-western Australia are refugia for remnant populations of woyliesBettongia penicillata . These marsupials create holes as they forage for the fruiting bodies of hypogeous fungi. The effect of these holes on the water-repellent woodland soils was evaluated using simulated diggings. Water repellency was significantly higher in surface than in sub-surface soils, although patches of moderately water-repellent sub-soils did occur. In situ assessments of simulated diggings that were allowed to decay showed a five-fold increase in water repellency in sub-surface soil once they had become filled-in. Buried organic material was found in many decayed diggings that were severely water-repellent, and very severe water repellency occurred where masses of fungal hyphae were present. This suggests that vertebrate diggings in which surface litter and organic debris become trapped can provide a site for the development of sub-surface water repellency.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: 2000 Academic Press
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/17526
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