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Research ideas and references

What do we already know about the Cumberland Plain Woodland? What else will we need to know to look after the remnant bushland areas in Western Sydney successfully in the future?

Research and education ideas

Our Cumberland Plain Woodland Ecology web pages cover what we’ve learnt about the ecology in the woodland remnants at the Australian Botanic Garden. 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 triandra 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.

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. & 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. 

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. & French, K. 2005, Germination response to heat and smoke of 22 Poaceae species from grassy woodlands. Australian Journal of Botany 53: 445-454.

Cuneo, P. & Leishman, M.R. 2006, African Olive (Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata) as an environmental weed in eastern Australia: a review. Cunninghamia, 9(4): 545-577.
Cuneo, P. & Leishman, M.R. 2013, Ecological impacts of invasive African olive (Olea europaea ssp. cuspidata) in Cumberland Plain Woodland, Sydney, Australia. Austral Ecology, 38(1):103-110.
Cuneo, P. & Leishman, M.R. 2015. Recovery after African Olive invasion: can a ‘bottom‐up’ approach to ecological restoration work? Ecological management & restoration, 16(1): 33-40.
Cuneo, P., Jacobson, C.R. & Leishman, M.R. 2009, Landscape‐scale detection and mapping of invasive African Olive (Olea europaea L. ssp. cuspidata Wall ex G. Don Ciferri) in SW Sydney, Australia using satellite remote sensing. Applied Vegetation Science, 12(2): 145-154.
Cuneo, P., Scott, J & Catelotti, K. 2016, Seed production and direct seeding to restore grassy understorey diversity at Mount Annan, NSW. Ecological Management and Restoration Project summaries
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, & Hill, S. 2000, Classifying endangered vegetation communities; A case study of Cumberland Plain Woodland. Pacific Conservation Biology 6: 120-129.

Hancock, N., Leishman, M.R. & Hughes, L. 2013, Testing the “local provenance” paradigm: a common garden experiment in Cumberland Plain woodland, Sydney, Australia. Restoration Ecology, 21(5): 569-577.

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, & French, K, 2003. Response of the soil seed-bank of Cumberland Plain Woodland to heating. Austral Ecology 28: 14-22.

Hill, S.J, & French, K, 2004. Potential impacts of fire and grazing in an endangered ecological community: Plant composition and shrub and Eucalypt regeneration in Cumberland 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.

Lomov, B., Keith, D.A. & Hochuli, D.F. 2009. Linking ecological function to species composition in ecological restoration: seed removal by ants in recreated woodland. Austral Ecology 34(7): 751-760.
Lomov, B., Keith, D.A., Britton, D.R. & Hochuli, D.F. 2006, Are butterflies and moths useful indicators for restoration monitoring? A pilot study in Sydney's Cumberland Plain Woodland. Ecological Management & Restoration, 7(3): 204-210.

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002, Native Vegetation of the Cumberland Plain map series. NSW NPWS, Hurstville.

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002, Interpretation Guidelines for the Native Vegetation Maps of the Cumberland Plain, Western Sydney. Final Edition NSW NPWS, 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.

Tooth, I.M. & Leishman, M.R. 2013, Post‐fire resprouting responses of native and exotic grasses from Cumberland Plain Woodland (Sydney, Australia) under elevated carbon dioxide. Austral Ecology 38(1): 1-10.
Tozer, M.G., Leishman, M.R. & Auld, T.D. 2015, Ecosystem risk assessment for Cumberland Plain Woodland, New South Wales, Australia. Austral Ecology 40(4): 400-410.

Tozer, Mark 2003, The native vegetation of the Cumberland Plain, western Sydney: systematic classification and field identification of communities. Cunninghamia 8(1): 1–75. 

Tozer, Mark 2010, How similar is Cumberland Plain Woodland to other coastal valley grassy woodlands in NSW? In: The Natural History of Sydney, edited by Daniel Lunney, Pat Hutchings and Dieter Hochuli. Pp301 - 318. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia. 

von Richter, L., Little, D.J. & 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, D.J. & Howell, J. 2005, Fire-related responses of seeds in a grassy woodland in Western Sydney In: Proceedings 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.

Watson, P. & Morris, E.C. 2006, Effects of fire frequency on vegetation in western Sydney’s grassy Cumberland Plain woodland and implications for management. In Proceedings of Bushfire Conference Brisbane, 6–9 June 2006. Life In A Fire-Prone Environment: Translating Science Into Practice.
Watson, P.J., Bradstock, R.A. & Morris, E.C. 2009, Fire frequency influences composition and structure of the shrub layer in an Australian subcoastal temperate grassy woodland. Austral Ecology 34(2): 218-232.

Wilkins, S., Keith, D.A. & 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: