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R. Meissner & Y. Caruso

C. paucifolius over a mixed shrubland of D. inaequifolia

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 exocarpoidesC. paucifoliusD. 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. cordataHemigenia 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,

A. campestrisDrosera macrantha subsp. macrantha,

Grevillea obliquistigma subsp. obliquistigmaH. sp. Paynes

Find (A.C. Beauglehole 39138), Hibbertia arcuata,

M. cordataM. microphyllaMonachather paradoxus and

Stypandra glauca.

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,

E. ebbanoenisis or E. salmonophloia) over Acacia spp. and

chenopods. The community had a mean species richness

of 34.2 ± 0.8 species per quadrat. The best indicator species

are Acacia andrewsiiAcacia erinaceaAustrodanthonia

caespitosa,  Austrostipa trichophyllaEnchylaena lanata,

Maireana carnosa,  Maireana georgei,  Rhagodia

drummondiiScaevola spinescensSclerolaena diacantha

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.

Physical parameters

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

(Table 2).

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

intermediate fertility.



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


The patterns of endemism and priority species on

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. muriculataC. sp.

Koolanooka (R. Meissner & Y. Caruso 78) and

D. rubroviridis (R. Meissner & Y. Caruso 69), were

collected for the first time. Acacia muriculata,

A. graciliformisD. scurra and D. rubroviridis appear to

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

Flora and vegetation of Koolanooka & Perenjori Hills


additional taxa of Lepidosperma that are endemic to banded

ironstone ranges, such as Lepidosperma gibsoniiL. ferricola

and  Lepidosperma sp Karara (Markey and Dillon 3468)

(R. Barrett


, pers. comm., Barrett 2007). This group is

currently undergoing a much needed revision.

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 drummondiiAlyxia buxifoliaHibbertia 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,

Figure 3. Two dimensional representation of a three dimensional ordination showing only axis 1 and 2 of the 48 quadrats

established on Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills and represented by community type. Lines represent the strength and direction of

the best fit linear correlated variables. Unbroken and dashed lines represent significance at P < 0.01 and P < 0.05 respectively.

Abbreviations as in Table 4.


 Science Directorate, Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Kings Park and

Botanic Garden, Western Australia


R. Meissner & Y. Caruso

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

surficial rocks.

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 (cfA.  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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R. Meissner & Y. Caruso

Table 1

Sorted two-way table of quadrats established Koolanooka and Perenjori Hills showing species by community type. Taxa

shaded grey within a community are indicator species identified by INDVAL > 17 (Dufrene & Legendre 1997) at the 6

group level (* indicates P< 0.05; ** indicates P<0.01; statistical significance tested by randomisation procedures).

Flora and vegetation of Koolanooka & Perenjori Hills


Table 1 (cont.)



. Meissner & 


. Car


Table 2

Spearman’s rank correlation of soil chemistry parameter and physical site characters. Cells with numbers present represent significant correlation at P < 0.05.

Flora and vegetation of Koolanooka & Perenjori Hills


Table 3

Plant community mean values for soil chemistry parameters (measured in mg/kg except eCEC and pH). Differences

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).

Community Type








4.7 (0.5)

4.9 (0.9)

4.3 (0.7)

2.6 (0.3)

5.5 (0.9)



4.9 (0.0)


5.0 (0.1)


4.8 (0.1)


4.7 (0.1)


5.3 (0.1)




4.3 (0.2)


7.2 (1.0)


9.1 (1.5)


3.4 (0.4)


7.0 (0.6)




636.7 (60.5)

660.0 (148.0)

565.5 (112.7)

336.0 (57.3)

658.9 (112.5)



116.4 (6.3)

132.0 (17.4)

139.4 (13.2)

112.8 (11.9)

144.4 (9.9)



140.0 (20.3)


144.0 (21.6)


115.9 (17.4)


69.8 (7.6)


199.7 (36.2)




0.6 (0.0)

0.7 (0.1)

0.8 (0.1)

0.5 (0.0)

0.9 (0.2)

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