Australian rangelands and climate change – Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass)

Australian rangelands and climate change – Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass) Report

Climate Change in Australia – Impacts & Adaptation Information for Australia’s NMR Regions

  • Author(s): Scott, J.K.
  • Published: 2014
  • Publisher: Rangelands NMR Cluster, Ninti One Limited and CSIRO

Abstract: •Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) has been shown to acclimate to higher temperatures and to maintain competitiveness and response to fire under increased CO2, conditions expected under climate change. •Distribution modelling and plant physiological studies indicate that the current region of buffel grass presence in Australia will remain suitable under future climates, thus maintaining or increasing (due to loss of other palatable grasses) its importance for agriculture. •Modelling the distribution of buffel grass indicates a southward spread in Australia by 2070. This represents a particular threat to the high value nature conservation in areas such as the Great Western Woodlands, the Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management Region and the Great Victoria Desert bioregion. •Containment strategies for buffel grass are required for high value environmental assets, given that eradication will be impossible without unsustainable resources. Likewise control is likely to be very difficult, if not impossible, in areas where the plant is already widespread. This makes containment the best strategy for new infestations, given that reinvasion is highly likely. •There is a risk that many plant species will not survive in a future climate that is hotter and drier. If buffel grass proves to have greater resilience than other plant species then it might form the basis for a novel ecosystem. Research is needed into ways that buffel grass can be managed to maximise its value to other components of the ecosystem. •Research is also needed into the genetic diversity in buffel grass with a view to identifying genotypes that are invasive and/or suitable for pasture improvement under climate change.

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Suggested Citation
Scott, J.K., 2014, Australian rangelands and climate change – Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass), Report, viewed 15 July 2024,

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