Long-term repeated burning reduces Lantana camara regeneration in a dry eucalypt forest
Previous short-term studies predict that the use of fire to manage lantana (Lantana camara) may promote its abundance. We tested this prediction by examining long-term recruitment patterns of lantana in a dry eucalypt forest in Australia from 1959 to 2007 in three fire frequency treatments: repeated annual burning, repeated triennial burning and long unburnt. The dataset was divided into two periods (1959-1972, 1974-2007) due to logging that occurred at the study site between 1972 and 1974 and the establishment of the triennial burn treatment in 1973. Our results showed that repeated burning decreased lantana regeneration under an annual burn regime in the pre- and post-logging periods and maintained low levels of regeneration in the triennial burn compartment during the post-logging period. In the absence of fire, lantana recruitment exhibited a dome-shaped response over time, with the total population peaking in 1982 before declining to 2007. In addition to fire regime, soil pH and carbon to nitrogen ratio, the density of taller conspecifics and the interaction between rainfall and fire regime were found to influence lantana regeneration change over time. The results suggest that the reported positive association between fire disturbance and abundance of lantana does not hold for all forest types and that fire should be considered as part of an integrated weed management strategy for lantana in more fire-tolerant ecosystems.
Zoology not elsewhere classified