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Enduring effects of large legumes and phosphorus fertiliser on jarrah forest restoration 15 years after bauxite mining

Daws, M.I., Grigg, A.H., Tibbett, M. and Standish, R.J.ORCID: 0000-0001-8118-1904 (2019) Enduring effects of large legumes and phosphorus fertiliser on jarrah forest restoration 15 years after bauxite mining. Forest Ecology and Management, 438 . pp. 204-214.

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Restoring nutrients lost in the mining process and re-establishing nutrient-cycling are often key goals of mine restoration. One common strategy to facilitate these goals is to seed fast-growing legumes combined with one application of P-fertiliser to maximise legume growth and increase soil-N. However, the longer term effects of this strategy have received little attention. Here we report the results of a 15-year-old experiment that was established to test the effects of fertiliser-P application and seeding large understorey legumes, both singly and in combination, on jarrah forest restoration after bauxite mining. Fifteen years after the establishment of this experiment, the majority of the seeded legumes had senesced, with total legume cover having declined significantly compared with results of the same experiment at 5-years-of-age. Yet, despite the legumes having senesced there were still negative effects of both large legumes and P-fertiliser on species richness and abundance of non-leguminous understorey species. These negative effects may be mediated by the persistent effects of legume competition that was evident at 5 years and the accumulation of significant quantities of leaf litter and fine woody debris in the large legume × P-addition treatments. Compared with the 0 kg P ha −1 treatment, application of 20 kg P ha −1 significantly increased jarrah tree growth, but there was no additional benefit of 80 kg P ha −1 . These data suggest that moderation of P-fertiliser and large understorey legumes could maximise understorey cover, tree growth and understorey species richness, and therefore simultaneously address multiple key restoration goals.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
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