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The vegetation of central south coastal Western Australia

Newbey, Kenneth Raymond (1979) The vegetation of central south coastal Western Australia. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Detailed vegetation mapping of approximately 10,000 km 2 of central southern V/estern Australia was the main focus of this study. After consideration of a range of available classifications to define the vegetation units, the scheme of Specht (1970) was adopted. This complemented work already completed and in progress at the W.A. State Herbarium.

In addition to a study of the vegetation, aspects of the geology, geomorphology and soils of the study area were reviewed to provide a sound environmental data base to elucidate plant association distribution.

To ensure an even spread of sites for each plant association, the study area was divided into grid units of 10' longitude by 10' of latitude. Within each grid a site was subjectively selected for each plant association present. As such a large area, with variable vegetation, was to be covered, plotless sites were used to optimize available time in the field. Altogether 756 sites were sampled for vegetation, floristics, geology, geomorphology and soils.

During the course of field work 1720 taxa were recorded. A high proportion of Species (253 or 14.7%) and 15 genera were unnamed.

The geomorphology of the study area had only been partially discussed in literature. As valley shape and origin varied widely, it was necessary to describe seven new valley types to provide a sound basis for soil and associated vegetation distribution. As these valley types did not adequately describe the extensive marine plain, a single plain type was described.

The soils of the study area had not been documented in detail. Because of the effect of soils on vegetation and land use, 21 soil series, 34 types, 20 phases, and 15 miscellaneous soils (including two phases) were described.

A wide range of habitats were present in the study area due to (a) the presence of seven bedrock types, (b) two marine transgressions, (c) river rejuvenation and exhumation which produced a wide range in soil profile thickness, and (d) a coastal zone. As a result, 135 plant associations and 18 facies were defined and described. It was found that many plant associations were strongly correlated to soil types and landscape elements, as evidenced by 34% of soil types being restricted to a single plant association. A micro-study, undertaken in the Corackerup Reserve, yielded detailed floristic data from 84 20 m x 50 m sites, representing 19 plant associations. The data were collected in part to determine the congruence of the structural classification of vegetation with some floristic techniques. Results of the floristic techniques suggested one plant association {Eucalyptus tvanscontinentalis Tall Shrubland) and one site of Eucalyptus astringens Low Open-forest needed more careful consideration. Apart from these points the floristic techniques used yielded site groups which showed strong congruence with site groups identified by the structural classification.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Loneragan, Jack, Aplin, T.E.H. and Bridgewater, Peter
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