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Fire and management of south-western Australian banksias

Cowling, R.M., Lamont, B.B. and Enright, N.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505 (1990) Fire and management of south-western Australian banksias. In: Australian ecosystems : 200 years of utilization, degradation and reconstruction: Proceedings of a symposium, 28 August - 2 September, Geraldton, Western Australia pp. 177-183.


Sixty of the 75 described species of Banksia are endemic to mediterranean SW Australia where they are often the dominant plants in fire-prone scrub-heath and woodland on nutrient-poor soils. Data on the fire-related reproductive and population biology of 11 banksias, largely confined to kwongan vegetation north of Perth, are reviewed to provide guidelines for maintenance of banksia populations through judicious use of fire. In kwongan, populations of non-sprouting banksias are largely even-aged; recruitment is confined to the immediate post-fire period. Many banksias, particularly non-sprouting species, are strongly serotinous and maintain large viable seed banks. These traits maximize the amount of seed available for post-fire recruitment. Many species take at least 10 yr to accumulate seed reserves sufficient for adequate post-fire recruitment. Post-fire seed mortality, resulting from predation and the effects of high soil temperatures, is higher after spring than autumn burns, resulting in lower recruitment. However, delayed seed release and the occurrence of safe sites after spring burns ensures that recruitment is well above replacement levels after fires in this season. Differential post-fire recruitment of up to 6 banksias that may co-occur in a community, usually in response to variable fire regimes and post-fire conditions, ensures their long-term co-existence. Elimination of non-sprouting species from a site is most likely following small fires at short intervals in climates of unreliable rainfall.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Publisher: Surrey Beatty &​ Sons
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