Monitoring Sites - Wallaby Creek

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Site Description

The Wallaby Creek flux station was located in Kinglake National Park, Victoria, South Eastern Australia (GPS coordinates: -37.429, 145.1873). The area is assigned the IUCN Category II (National Parks) of the United Nations' list of National Parks and protected areas, which means that park is primarily managed for ecosystem conservation.

The site was approximately 45km north east of Melbourne, at an elevation of approximately 720 metres, and was located on the southern edge of the Hume Plateau. The catchment area was dominated by Eucalyptus Regnans or Mountain Ash, the world's tallest flowering plant (angiosperm). Trees can reach heights of more than 90 metres growing in areas with high rainfall and fertile soil. These trees are well distributed throughout Victoria's Central Highlands including the Otway Ranges and Strzlecki Ranges; they are also found in Tasmania. The site contained a chronosequence of (20, 80 and 300) stand ages that were established during fires occurring over the last 300 years.

The tower itself was located within an old growth stand with individual trees as old as 300 years. Mountain ash forests are confined to the cool mountain regions with elevations ranging from 460 - 1100m and average rainfalls of 1100-2000mm. The catchment area contains a portion of the Mt Disappointment range, the Divide and the headwaters of Wallaby Creek and Silver Creek, and much of the slopes are characterised as flat to moderate.

The major soil type within the forest was krasnozemic soils, which were friable red/brown, with high amounts of organic matter in the upper 20 – 30cm. However, the composition of krasnozemic soils was not homogenous, but rather a variation with altitude could be observed; lower altitudes inhabited grey-yellow podsolised soils compared to higher altitudes of the Kinglake and Hume plateau where the soil composition was krasnozemic loams. The clay content of these soils increased with depth until at least 200 cm deep, where after a transition soils contained rock fragments.

Bushfires swept through the region in January 2009 destroying the tower. Data from the site was recorded from May 2010 to 2016. The post fire instrumentation was not as diverse when compared to the pre fire instrumentation.

The climate of the study area was classified as a cool, temperate zone, with the highest temperatures occurring during the summer months of December – February (13.8 – 22.5°C), whilst the coolest temperatures were experienced in May and August (4.7 – 9.2°C). Average annual precipitation was 1209mm, with a maximum rainfall occurring in June (Ashton, 2000). The study site experienced foggy conditions after sunset during autumn and winter.

The forest was classed as a tall, wet sclerophyll forest, and the dominant Mountain Ash trees had an average canopy height of 75m. Below the dominant canopy lay a temperate rainforest understorey consisting of Pomaderris aspera and Olearia argophylla species, which were 10-18 metres tall. The lower layers of vegetation were dominated by tree ferns (Cyathea australis and Dicksonia antartica) and extensive tracts of rosette and rhizonic ferns (Polystichum proliferum and Blechnum wattsii) as well as Acacia trees.

Modified: 10/11/2017