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Measuring and managing the impact of secondary salinisation on riparian flora

Ingram, M. and Lymbery, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0542-3446 (2011) Measuring and managing the impact of secondary salinisation on riparian flora. In: Ecological Society of Australia, 2011 Annual conference, 21 - 25 November, Hobart, Australia.


Although secondary salinisation of streams has long been recognised as a major threat to biodiversity in Australia, there is little empirical evidence of the impacts of salinisation on riparian flora. We studied the effects of soil salinity on riparian plants in two adjacent catchments of the Collie River in the south west of Western Australia. We found significant negative relationships between soil salinity and the diversity of riparian plants, both within and between catchments. Increasing salinity was also associated with a change in plant species composition, which appeared to be due to a greater impact of salinity on some riparian plant species than on others. In controlled laboratory experiments, increasing salinity significantly decreased germination rates in Bossiaea eriocarpa, Hypocalymma angustifolium, Hakea lissocarpha, Hakea undulata and Hakea varia, all of which were relatively more common in the field at low soil salinities, while there was no effect of salinity on germination rates in Melaleuca viminea, Xanthorrhoea preissii and Corymbia calophylla, which were all relatively more common at high soil salinities. We hypothesise that increasing salinity reduced the diversity of riparian plant species; this may have important consequences for the functioning of salinised riparian ecosystems.

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