Survival of Cassinia rugata seedlings
Cassinia rugata is our top priority threatened plant species. Plants appear to dislike shading and tend to become leggy and senescent over time in their preferred open habitat. Following a burn, it is common to find many seedling plants growing close to the existing adult plants.
We noticed that there were numerous Cassinia rugata seedlings growing near to Cassinia rugata plants that were burnt in April 2011. In August 2012, we established a caged-uncaged experiment for selected tagged seedlings to determine whether caging would enhance their survival.
We also have tracked the four adult plants and by February 2013, one of the parent plants had re-grown and started to flower.
Each February and August we monitor the progress of the and the seedlings and regenerating adult plants. While the caging of seedling plants has not affected survival rates compared to uncaged plants, the uncaged plants are much smaller than caged plants. As surrounding vegetation thickens, these small uncaged plants are unlikely to catch up with caged plants. They are also at a disadvantage in the competition with other species for light and then to be large enough to survive the next burn.