Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Research ideas and references

Research and education ideas

Our Cumberland Plain Woodland Ecology webpages here cover what we’ve learnt about the ecology in the woodland remnants at the Australian Botanic Garden. There is much we do not know, but will need to know if we are to look after the remnant bushland areas in Western Sydney successfully in the future.

Here are some ideas that might provide avenues for future research.

  • Climate change poses a risk to many plant species. How will increased temperatures or changing rainfall patterns affect particular species?
  • Will some species be out-competed by others?
  • Will some long-lived species fail because there is no seedling recruitment?
  • What impacts are rabbits having?
  • Dispersal distance - how far can seeds be carried?
  • Microhabitats are seen to be important for seed germination but we have very little information for most of our species.
  • What is the rate of population turnover in the tussock grasses like Themeda australis and Poa labillardierei? How long can they live?
  • A key to seedling identification for Cumberland Plain species would be a useful research tool.
  • Invertebrate/plant interactions - little is known and this is a fascinating field for studying topics that include pollination, seed and plant herbivory, and seed dispersal.

For a quick summary of some of the important features of the woodland ecology, go to key ecological features of the woodland vegetation.

References and further reading

  • Atkinson, James (1826) An account of the state of agriculture & grazing in New South Wales (J. Cross: Holborn).
  • Bannerman, S.M. and Hazelton, P.A. (1990) Soil landscapes of the Penrith 1:100 000 map sheet (Soil Conservation Service of NSW: Sydney).
  • Benson, D. (1992) The natural vegetation of the Penrith 1:100 000 map sheet. Cunninghamia 2(4): 541-596.
  • Benson, Doug & Howell, Jocelyn (1990, 1995) Taken for granted: the bushland of Sydney and its suburbs. (Kangaroo Press: Sydney).
  • Benson, Doug & Howell, Jocelyn (2002) Cumberland Plain Woodland ecology then and now: interpretations and implications from the work of Robert Brown and others. Cunninghamia 7(4):631-650. Click here to view pdf.
  • Benson, Doug, Howell, Jocelyn, & McDougall, Lyn (1996) Mountain Devil to mangrove: a guide to natural vegetation in the Hawkesbury–Nepean Catchment (Royal Botanic Gardens: Sydney).
  • Clarke, S, and French, K, (2005) Germination response to heat and smoke of 22 Poaceae species from grassy woodlands. Australian Journal of Botany 53: 445-454.
  • Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2005). Recovering bushland on the Cumberland Plain: Best practice guidelines for the management and restoration of bushland. (DEC Sydney)
  • French, K, Callaghan, B, and Hill, S. (2000) Classifying endangered vegetation communities; A case study of Cumberland Plain Woodland. Pacific Conservation Biology 6: 120-129.
  • Harden G. (1990- 2002) Flora of New South Wales Volumes 1-4 (UNSW Press: Sydney).
  • Hazelton, P.A., Bannerman, S.M., & Tillie, P.J. (1990) Soil landscapes of the Wollongong 1:100 000 map sheet (Soil Conservation Service of NSW: Sydney).
  • Hill, S.J, and French, K, (2003) Response of the soil seed-bank of Cumberland Plain Woodland to heating. Austral Ecology 28: 14-22.
  • Hill, S.J, and French, K, (2004) Potential impacts of fire and grazing in an endangered ecological community: Plant composition and shrub and Eucalypt regeneration in Cumberlnad Plain Woodland. Australian Journal of Botany 52: 23-29.
  • Hill, S.J., Tung, P.J. & Leishman, M.R. (2005) Relationships between anthropogenic disturbance, soil properties and plant invasion in endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland, Australia. Austral Ecology 30: 775-788.
  • Howell, Jocelyn & Benson, Doug (2000) Sydney’s bushland: More than meets the eye. Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney)
  • James, T. (1997) Native flora in western Sydney. Urban Bushland Biodiversity Survey. Stage 1 (NSW National Parks &Wildlife Service: Hurstville)
  • James, Teresa, McDougall, Lyn & Benson, Doug (1999) Rare bushland plants of western Sydney 2nd edit. (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney).
  • NPWS (1997) Native flora in western Sydney. Urban Bushland Biodiversity Survey Stage 1: western Sydney (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service: Hurstville).
  • Pidgeon, I. M. (1937) The ecology of the Central Coastal area of New South Wales. 1. The environment and general features of the vegetation. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 62:315-340.
  • Pidgeon, I.M. (1941) The ecology of the central coastal area of New South Wales. IV. Forest types on soils from Hawkesbury Sandstone and Wianamatta Shale. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of NSW 66: 113–137.
  • Tozer, Mark (2003) The native vegetation of the Cumberland Plain, western Sydney: systematic classification and field identification of communities. Cunninghamia 8(1): 1–75. Click here to view pdf.
  • von Richter, L, Little, DJ and Benson, D (2005) Effects of low intensity fire on the resprouting of the weed African Olive (Olea europaea subsp cuspidata) in Cumberland Plain Woodland, Western Sydney. Ecological Management & Restoration 6(3): 230-232.
  • von Richter, L, Little, DJ and Howell, J (2005) Fire-related responses of seeds in a grassy woodland in Western Sydney In: Porceedings of the 5th Australian workshop on native seed biology Brisbane (June 2004) (Eds SW Adkins et al) (Australian Centre for Mineral Extension and Research: Brisbane)
  • Walker, P.H. (1960) A soil survey of the County of Cumberland. Soil Survey Unit Bulletin No. 2 (Chemist’s Branch, NSW Department of Agriculture: Sydney).
  • Wilkins, S, Keith, DA and Adam, P, (2003) Measuring success: Evaluating the restoration of a grassy Eucalypt woodland on the Cumberland Plain , Sydney, Australia. Restoration Ecology 11: 489-503.
For more information on plant ecology in Eastern Australia have a look at papers published in our journal Cunninghamia: a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia.
For information from the Ecology of Sydney Plants Series see:
  • Part 1: Ferns, Fern allies, Cycads and Conifers,Dicotyledon families Acanthaceae toAsclepiadaceae (Cunninghamia 3(2) 1993)
  • Part 2: Dicotyledon families Asteraceae to Buddlejaceae(Cunninghamia 3(4) 1994)
  • Part 3: Cabombaceae to Eupomatiaceae (Cunninghamia4(2) 1995) pdf
  • Part 4: Fabaceae (Cunninghamia 4(4) 1996) pdf
  • Part 5: Flacourtiaceae to Myrsinaceae (Cunninghamia 5(2)1997) pdf
  • Part 6: Myrtaceae (Cunninghamia 5(4) 1998) pdf
  • Part 7a: Nyctaginaceae to Primulaceae (Cunninghamia 6(2)1999) pdf
  • Part 7b: Proteaceae to Rubiaceae (Cunninghamia 6(4) 2000) pdf
  • Part 8: Rutaceae to Zygophyllaceae (Cunninghamia 7(2)2001) pdf
  • Part 9: Monocot families Agavaceae to Juncaginaceae(Cunninghamia 7(4) 2002) pdf
  • Part 10:Monocotyledon families Lemnaceae toZosteraceae, including Poaceae (Cunninghamia 9(1) 2005) pdf

Ecology of Cumberland Plain Woodland



Rare bushland plants of Western Sydney

Mountain devil to Mangrove

Recovering bushland on Cumberland Plain