Current Projects

Grasslands, Grassy Woodlands and invasion by African Lovegrass

Invasion by unpalatable perennial exotic grasses is a major threat to livestock production in southern Australia.  Their invasion also has the potential to transform remnant native grasslands and grassy woodlands leading to competitive exclusion of native plant species, changes in fire intensity and severity and changes in seasonal soil moisture and nutrient availability.

African lovegrass (E. curvula) in kangaroo grass pasture
African lovegrass (E. curvula) in kangaroo grass pasture

Primary producers in SE NSW have been grappling with invasion by the exotic perennial C4 African Lovegrass for several decades.  Together these producers hold a vast cumulative knowledge of those control strategies that are and aren’t successful and those situations when invasion proceeds most rapidly.

In this project we are working with dryland cattle producers in the Bega Valley to better understand the relationships between lovegrass abundance and farm management and weed control strategies.  The project combines ecological research,  collation of management and control histories and economic analyses to better understand management strategies, their costs and associated ecological outcomes.  We are collaborating with the Far South Coast Farm Management Network, South East Local Land Services, Far South Coast Landcare Association, Springvale Landcare Group and Dr Jennifer Firn  of Queensland University of Technology and Nick Gill and Laurie Chisolm of the University of Wollongong.

ALG_fieldsampling1

Field sampling native pastures invaded by African lovegrass in the Bega Valley

Bundian Way Yamfields

The Bundian Way connects Targangal (Kosciuszko Mtn, Snowy Mtns) and Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach, Twofold Bay) and was one of many important aboriginal pathways in southern Australia.

Yams, tuber forming plant species, were a major food resource for people traveling along the pathways.  Yam species are predominantly lilies and orchids but also include other herbaceous plants, the most well known being Microseris lanceolata, locally known as Garngeg (Nyamin or Murnong in Victoria). In some cases many of these yam species still persist, in infrequently grazed and never fertilised stock reserves and roadsides and the occasional back paddock.  Many of these stock reserves were also significant aboriginal campsites.

microseris lanceolata

Garngeg (Nyamin, Murnong, Yam daisy, Microseris lanceolata), Monaro Tablelands

caesia yams

Yams of Arthropodium milleflorum, Monaro Tablelands, NSW

Working with local Aboriginal woman Aileen Blackburn and Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council project officer John Blay, we are researching how the re-introduction of traditional management practices will affect yam species diversity and density in two localities along the Bundian Way. The project is being supported by South East Local Land Services.  For more information see http://www.bundianway.com.au/yamfields.htm

yam field sampling

A small scale field sampling quadrat for monitoring yam species diversity and density, Monaro Tablelands