Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

Research for the plan to protect environmental assets from lantana

The mechanisms behind the impact of lantana are yet to be fully investigated. Data on the impact of certain management actions (such as the use of herbicide and fire) on threatened species, or more generally on native species is also limited. Such information is necessary to manage and better protect threatened biodiversity. Rigorous examination needs to be undertaken by researchers into the effects of lantana as well as management on threatened species.

Research has commenced with the assistance of the below research students:

Ben Gooden, University of Wollongong

Project title: The effect of the woody plant invader Lantana camara on vascular plant diversity in wet sclerophyll forest.

Project description: Alien species invasion into natural areas is an important agent of global environmental change, and is considered to be the second greatest threat to biodiversity after anthropogenic habitat loss. The aim of this project was to assess the effects of an alien woody plant invader, Lantana camara (lantana), on vascular plant diversity in wet sclerophyll forest of south-east Australia. Lantana is ranked in the top ten worst weeds worldwide, yet its potential impacts on species and community-level diversity have rarely been quantified. The project comprised three main sections. Firstly, Ben used a multi-site comparison procedure to determine the relationship between lantana abundance and vascular plant species richness in wet sclerophyll forest. Secondly, Ben compared the species richness, community composition and tree seedling density between lantana-invaded, non-invaded and lantana-managed wet sclerophyll forest to assess whether the removal of lantana facilitates the regeneration of invaded vegetation. Thirdly, a manipulative field experiment was undertaken to assess the effects of lantana on native tree seedling growth, and whether such effects are different across three tree structural groups: sclerophyllous canopy species, mesophyllous subcanopy species and 'edge' species typical of regenerating forest.

Completion date: December 2007

Diana Virkki, Griffith University

Project title: The effects of lantana removal on reptile assemblages and habitat attributes in wet-sclerophyll forest at Curramore Sanctuary, south-east Queensland.

Project description: This project aimed to determine the impacts of Lantana camara and its treatment on reptile communities, as the impacts of weed management strategies on faunal assemblages are often not considered. The project was undertaken at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary on the Sunshine Coast, which is a significant refuge for wildlife in south-east Queensland. Curramore Sanctuary is a reserve dominated by wet sclerophyll forest, with lantana being a significant environmental issue at the site. The project used a combination of two integrated lantana treatments; herbicide spraying and prescribed fire, and herbicide spraying and manually cleared areas. Two controls will also be used, including uncleared lantana and undisturbed wet sclerophyll forest. Habitat attributes of the treatment sites were measured in order to determine why certain effects are associated with lantana, as well as why different lantana treatment methods may have variable impacts on reptiles. Determining the most effective management strategy of lantana will assist in the future management of Curramore Sanctuary and the conservation of wildlife at this site.

Completion date: January, 2009

Web links: SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium

University of Southern Queensland

Project title: Vegetation and soil seedbank responses to Lantana camara control in escarpment areas of Toowoomba, southern Queensland.

Project description: This research will consist of both survey and experimental components that will determine a range of ecosystem responses to Lantana camara and lantana control measures. An initial desktop survey will identify the extent and degree of infestation in the study area in order to identify suitable sites for further study. Above ground floristic composition, structure, percentage cover of strata and tree health indicators and below ground soil fungi composition and relative fungi species dominance will be measured in lantana infested and paired non-lantana infested sites to determine overall ecosystem responses to lantana. Field sites will be spread across three soil types, sandstone, granite and basalt to further analyse effects of nutrient rich and comparatively nutrient poor soils on ecosystem responses to lantana. Further experiments will examine the application of a number of different methods of lantana control/removal to infested sites. Sites will be monitored for seedling response and changes in species' composition and richness and other characteristics. Results from this research will aid natural resource managers in the application of more effective restoration practices that will optimize ecosystem recovery and assist in maintaining biodiversity.

Expected completion date: December, 2009

Web links: University of Southern Queensland News and Events

Page last updated: 26 February 2011