R. Meissner & Y. Caruso
and Philotheca brucei subsp. brucei. The community had
the highest species richness with a mean of 39.4 ± 0.6
species per quadrat. Indicator species for this community
are Acacia exocarpoides, C. paucifolius, D. inaequifolia and
P. brucei subsp. brucei. Taxa in the community are mainly
from species groups A, D, F and G (Table 1).
Community type 4 – This community was found mainly
on low fertility lower slopes of Koolanooka Hills. The
vegetation is shrublands and open shrublands of
Allocasuarina spp., M. cordata, Hemigenia sp. Paynes
Find (A.C. Beauglehole 49138) and Mirbelia microphylla.
This community had a mean species richness of 34.4 ±
1.6 species per quadrat and is comprised of taxa from
species group D, I and J (Table 1). The Best indicator
species are Acacia stereophylla var. stereophylla,
Find (A.C. Beauglehole 39138), Hibbertia arcuata,
Community type 5 – This community was found on both
ranges. It occurs on colluvial outwash soils from the ranges,
and sites occurring in pockets of fertile soil within
community type 1. The vegetation is woodlands and
mallee woodlands of Eucalyptus spp. (E. loxophleba,
chenopods. The community had a mean species richness
of 34.2 ± 0.8 species per quadrat. The best indicator species
are Acacia andrewsii, Acacia erinacea, Austrodanthonia
and Senna charlesiana. The community is characterised
by taxa from species groups A and C (Table 1), which are
typical of soils of high pH.
The soil chemistry showed significant intercorrelations
with other soil parameters. Iron had the most correlations
with physical site parameters. It was positively correlated
with slope, aspect, maximum surface rock fragment size
and rock outcrop abundance, but negatively with leaf litter
cover (Table 2).
There were few correlations between physical site
characters. Slope, rock outcrop abundance, maximum
surface rock size and run off were positively intercorrelated
Phosphorus, pH, magnesium and cobalt were all high
in Community 5, indicating sites of higher fertility. Low
phosphorus and magnesium separated Communities 1 and
4 from the other communities (Table 3).
Communities 2 and 5 showed similar values in
phosphorus, cobalt, magnesium and pH. Community 3
differed from the latter with the highest phosphorus values
but significantly lower pH (Table 3).
Community 3 had significantly greater coarse fragment
size and abundance than Community 5, which occurred
on the colluvial outwashes and deeper fertile soils (Table
4). The remaining communities did not differ from
Communities 3 and 5 in these site characters. Community
4 occurred on lower slopes and differed only from
Community 3, which occurred predominantly on crests
and midslopes. The cover of surficial rock (rock outcrop
abundance) was greatest in Community 2, followed by
Community 3 (Table 4).
The three dimensional ordination (stress = 0.17) clearly
separated the majority of the communities (Figure 3). The
most common community type found on Koolanooka
Hills (Community 1a) is on the left side of the ordination,
characterised by lower fertility (low phosphorous and
potassium). Community 1b occurred in the upper left
quadrant with lower pH and an increase in coarse fragment
abundance. The woodlands on colluvial soils and on the
slopes of the hills (Community 5) also clearly separated
out from the other communities. This community was
found in the lower right quadrant and was characterised
by higher pH and Co and occurrences on predominantly
lower slopes and flats. Community 3, common between
Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills, occurred in the upper
right quadrant. This community can be characterised by
the higher abundance of rocky outcrops and steeper slopes,
and high phosphorus. Community 2 and 4 occur in the
centre of the ordination but separate in the third dimension
(not shown). The soil of Community 4 has
characteristically lower fertility and is found on gently
inclined slopes, while Community 2 was on soils of
The total of 238 taxa and the pattern of dominant families
recorded for Koolanooka Hills are similar to other
ironstone and greenstone ranges surveyed in the Eastern
goldfields (see Gibson 2004a). Six endemic species were
identified during the survey, similar to the number of
endemics found on other ironstone ranges (Gibson
ironstone ranges are high. A concurrent survey in the
Central Tallering found 15 priority species and 9 endemic
taxa (cf. 8 species and 6 taxa, respectively, in this survey)
(Markey & Dillon, 2008). The Central Tallering survey
covered a greater area and sampled twice the number of
quadrats, making it even more significant the high number
of endemic species found in this survey.
Three of the endemic species, A. muriculata, C. sp.
Koolanooka (R. Meissner & Y. Caruso 78) and
collected for the first time. Acacia muriculata,
be restricted to Koolanooka Hills and were not found on
Perenjori Hills, while Caesia sp. Koolanooka (R. Meissner
& Y. Caruso 78) and L. sp. Koolanooka (K. Newbey 9336)
occur on both.
Recent taxonomic work has discovered several
additional taxa of Lepidosperma that are endemic to banded
ironstone ranges, such as Lepidosperma gibsonii, L. ferricola
and Lepidosperma sp Karara (Markey and Dillon 3468)
, pers. comm., Barrett 2007). This group is
Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills occurs close to the
boundar y between two provinces, Southwest and
Eremaean (Beard 1990). The flora found within this survey
showed a greater affinity to the Southwest flora (e.g.
Ptilotus drummondii, Alyxia buxifolia, Hibbertia spp. and
Allocasuarina spp.) than Eremaean. Those Eremaean taxa
present at Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills showed
considerable range extensions, especially Eucalyptus
ebbanoenis subsp. glauciramula and Mirbelia sp. Helena
& Aurora (B.J. Lepschi 2003), found in the eastern
Vegetation on Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills is described
by Beard (1976) as the same system; however, there were
differences in communities between Koolanooka and
Perenjori Hills. Three of the communities, 1, 2 and 4
were found only on Koolanooka Hills while Communities
3 and 5 were found on both Koolanooka and Perenjori
Hills. Perenjori Hills is smaller in extent than Koolanooka,
and in some places the vegetation has been cleared up to
the lower slopes. In addition, there is a history of sheep
grazing in Perenjori Hills, but only feral goat grazing is
known at Koolanooka.
Community types were found to be correlated with
soil fertility, landscape position, soil depth and surface
rockiness. Low phosphorus and potassium separate
Communities 1 and 4, restricted to Koolanooka Hills,
from the more fertile sites. The two communities occur
on very different landforms with Community 1 occurring
on skeletal soils on crests and slopes, while Community 4
is found on the lower slopes of the ranges. In contrast,
Science Directorate, Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Kings Park and
Community 2, which is also restricted to Koolanooka Hills,
shows higher levels of phosphorus. It is found on a similar
landform to Community 1 but mainly on sites with
laterised banded ironstone and with higher cover of
Community 3 is found on both Perenjori and
Koolanooka Hills and showed highest phosphorus levels,
but had lower pH. It was commonly found on steeper
slopes and crests and often with a higher cover of surficial
rocks, some weakly metamorphosed banded ironstone but
no tertiary laterites.
Community 5 is typical of the woodlands surrounding
many of the greenstone and ironstone ranges in the Yilgarn
Craton (see Gibson 2004b). At Koolanooka it occurred
on the colluvial flats at the bases of both hills and also on
pockets of fertile soils on slopes and small valleys between
hills. The communities are likely to be responding to the
higher nutrients and pH, and possibly deeper soils required
for larger trees to survive.
Gradients in the floristics and associated
environmental variables occur in the study area.
Communities 1b and 3 occurred on rockier sites which
were always associated with a higher position in the
landscape. The soils in these areas are often shallower
with higher phosphorus, a characteristic of soils derived
from the ironstone (Gray & Murphy 2002). In contrast,
the lower colluvial and lower slope communities (4 and
5) the soils were relatively higher in nutrients, and in the
case of the woodlands, possessing deeper soil. This is
the likely result of the enrichment by leachates and
colluvium from the surrounding ridges.
Beard (1976) mapped Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills
as a single vegetation system, the Koolonooka system. A
vegetation system encompasses a series of plant
communities recurring in a catenary sequence or mosaic
pattern linked to topographic, pedological and or/
geological features (Beard 1981). This present study shows
the broad vegetation system as comprised of five plant
communities. The current definition of the Koolanooka
TEC should be re-evaluated and incorporate these
In Beard’s (1976) description of the Koolanooka
system, he notes Allocasuarina huegeliana as the dominant
taxon (cf. A. acutivalvis in this survey). There is no record
of A. huegeliana from Koolanooka or Perenjori Hills in
the Western Australian Herbarium, and is probably a
misidentification. Furthermore, within the vegetation
system he also mapped two structural units that largely
correspond to Communities 1 and 5.
The plant communities on Koolanooka and Perenjori
Hills, especially the three restricted to Koolanooka, are
currently under increasing threat from mining and none
of the area is currently reserved.
We would like to thank the following people: Dave Allen,
WA Chemcentre for Soil Analysis; Andrew Moore,
Solomon family, Butler family, Midwest Corporation and
Mount Gibson Iron for their cooperation and access to
the sites in the field survey; the staff at the Western
Australian Herbarium, especially Karina Knight; and
Russell Barrett, Rob Davies, Malcolm French, Mike
Hislop, Greg Keighery, Bruce Maslin, Frank Obbens, Sue
Patrick, Barbara Rye, Malcolm Trugeon and Paul Wilson
for their taxonomic expertise. And finally, Neil Gibson,
for his advice and support. This work was funded by the
Department of Environment and Conservation, Western
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Sorted two-way table of quadrats established Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills showing species by community type. Taxa
group level (* indicates P< 0.05; ** indicates P<0.01; statistical significance tested by randomisation procedures).
Table 1 (cont.)
. Meissner &
between ranked values tested using Kruskall-Wallis non-parametric analysis of variance. Standard error in parentheses.
Parameters in bold indicate significance at P<0.01. a, b and c represent significant differences between community
types at P < 0.05 (n = number of quadrats, P = probability, ns = not significant).