Native Grasslands & low Sedgelands: Ecological Asset 11

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Description

Native grasslands are naturally-occurring, treeless areas dominated by native grasses and flora with similar growth forms such as iron-grass, sedge, reed and rush families. Widespread clearance for cropping and modification through stock grazing throughout the state and the WildEyre region has meant that native grasslands are considered to be one of Australia’s most threatened ecological communities.

Indeed, only 2% of South Australia’s native temperate grasslands remain.

The management of healthy grassy ecosystems requires periodic disturbance to maintain both species diversity and an open structure. Within the WildEyre project area, it is unsure exactly how much native grassland and sedgeland existed in pre-European times, and this uncertainty is further compounded by the successive nature of grasslands, which can quickly progress to shrublands or open grassy woodlands if disturbance regimes are inappropriate for that particular habitat.

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Threatened or Important Species

Between the tussocks in grassland there are often areas of what appears to be bare ground which is, however, covered in mosses, lichens and blue-green algae, all of which are important food sources for birds, reptiles and insects. There are also numerous ephemeral flora species which are found periodically within the grassland and sedgeland habitats, depending on climatic conditions.

Threats to Grasslands:

  • Stock and rabbit grazing
  • Changed land use
  • Invasive species such as Horehound weed, Lincoln Weed, Wild Oat and Barley Grass threaten the survival of these habitats,
  • Salinity can also affect their distribution, especially in sedgelands perched precariously, in many cases, on the edge of subcoastal or inland wetlands.

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