Authors: Daws, MI; Grigg, AH; Standish, RJ; Tibbett, M

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Daws, MI, Grigg, AH, Standish, RJ & Tibbett, M 2019, 'Applied phosphorus has long-term impacts on vegetation responses in restored jarrah forest', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2019: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 693-704,

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Nutrient enrichment can result in long-term negative impacts on a range of native and semi-native plant communities worldwide. Despite this knowledge, fertiliser application is generally viewed as a necessary step in re-establishing native plant communities in post-mining restoration. However, long-term effects of nutrient addition to restored plant communities, particularly in native ecosystems that are adapted to inherently lownutrient soils, have received little attention. Here we report results of two experiments run for 15 and 20 years, respectively, to investigate the effect of applied P fertiliser on responses of Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah) forest re-sprouter understorey species in sites restored after bauxite mining in Western Australia. Resprouter species are abundant in unmined forest but are under-represented in restored sites. At the end of the two experiments (i.e. after 15 and 20 years), the abundance of three groups of re-sprouter understorey species was reduced, compared with the zero-fertiliser treatment, when P fertiliser was applied at rates from 20 to 120 kg P ha-1. In both experiments, the cover associated with P responsive legumes increased with increasing P application rates. This result suggests that when fertiliser is applied, slow-growing re-sprouter species are susceptible to being outcompeted by more vigorous understorey species. Consequently, if the goal of restoration is to re-establish a diverse plant community, then minimising fertiliser application rates may be appropriate.

Keywords: Acacia, competition, fertiliser, legumes, nitrogen

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