Catchment cover and stream water quality in an Australian tropical savanna: rapid recovery after a change to a less intense fire regime

Catchment cover and stream water quality in an Australian tropical savanna: rapid recovery after a change to a less intense fire regime

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsTownsend, SA, Douglas, MM, Setterfield, SA
JournalEcological Management and Restoration
Volume5
Issue2
Pagination136 - 138
Date Published01/01/04
ISSN1442-8903
Abstract

This study compared the vegetation cover and stream water quality in the Kapalga catchment (Northern Territory, Australia) before and after the shift from late to early dry season fire regime. Stream flow was continuously monitored between October 1992 and July 1993. Water samples were collected between October 1992 and June 1999, excluding 1998 due to instrument failure. Catchment canopy, grass and ground cover (leaf litter and bare ground) were measured in December 1993 and 1997 at three random points at least 50 m apart at each of four randomly selected sites located at least 1 km apart. Canopy cover, litter cover and grass cover were significantly lower in 1993, during the late season fire regime, than in 1997 when early dry season fires burnt the catchment. Bare ground cover was substantially higher in 1993 than in 1997. Stream flow during the late fires included episodic runoff events in November and December, before continuous wet season flow. Nine events occurred over the 1993, 1994 and 1995 wet seasons, with at least two events occurring each year. However, when the early fire regime was implemented, only two episodic events occurred over a 6-year period, one during each of 1996 and 1999. Storm flow concentrations of total and volatile suspended sediment were significantly higher during the years of the late dry season burning regime. Storm N and P concentrations, as well as baseflow water quality, did not differ between the two fire regimes.

URLhttp://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1485

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