Short Virtual Presentation & Digital Poster 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Munching on Moira Grass: Vegetation response in wetlands in the Barmah Forest Ramsar site when feral animal grazing is controlled over 12 months. (#52)

Johanna E Slijkerman 1 , James P Kaye 1 , Tim Barlow 2 , Keith Ward 2
  1. Water Technology, Wangaratta, VIC, Australia
  2. Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia

Why? To assess the vegetation response when feral animal grazing is controlled over 12 months, in wetlands in the Barmah Forest Ramsar site. 

Why? Paired vegetation quadrats were monitored, inside and outside exclosures, at four wetlands.

What? Results indicate:

  • Bare ground in the quadrats inside the exclosures reduced after construction of the fences.
    • Bare ground is attributed to trampling and pugging by animals. As vegetation cover declines, bare ground increases. Bare ground results in increases in surface run-off and soil loss, and weed incursion into a wetland.
  • Where Moira Grass was present in the quadrats inside the enclosures, it remained constant or increased in cover.
    • Moira Grass is significant as it provides habitat and food for birds, fish, frogs and insects; and provides crucial ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling and primary production.
    • Moira Grass is palatable to feral grazing animals.
  • Ongoing monitoring is required to build on results and fully understand the impact of feral grazing animals on wetland vegetation, particularly Moira Grass, at this site.

Why? The Barmah Forest is an internationally listed Ramsar Wetland. It is a bioregionally significant seasonal floodplain wetland, which supported one of the most extensive areas of Moira Grass (Pseudoraphis spinescens) plains in the Murray-Darling Basin. Moira Grass is highly palatable. Grazing by feral animals is a threat to this species and the broader wetland ecosystem. Learnings from this project are applicable to many other wetlands impacted by grazing by feral animals such as horses, pigs and deer in Victoria and nationally. 

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