Abstract: The Upland Heath Swamps Plot Network Fire History Data Package records the history of fire across 54 established swamp monitoring sites in upland swamps scattered throughout the study area (Keith and Myerscough 1993). The fire history prior to the establishment of plots in 1983 has been compiled from records and maps held by Sydney Catchment Authority and the National Parks and Wildlife Service including wildfires and prescribed burns (Keith et al. 2006). Since 1982, fire occurrences on the plots have been verified by personal observations (David Keith). Spatial distributions of upland swamp vegetation was interpreted visually from aerial photography flow in 1960 and 1998, and the data were digitally captured and stored.
The Upland Heath Swamps Plot Network research plots were established in 1983. A synopsis of related data packages which have been collected as part of the Upland Heath Swamps Plot Network’s full program is provided at https://doi.org/10.25911/5c1313b2b2644
Sampling method: Originally each sample site was a belt transect of 60 contiguous 0.5x0.5 m quadrats, in which presence/absence of all vascular plant taxa were recorded (based on whether they were overhanging the quadrats) and tallied to give a frequency out of 60. The sites were originally sampled in 1983, marked in the field by two wooden stakes at either end of the transect, and plotted on a 1:10 000 aerial photograph. By 2004, it was possible to relocate 54 of the 60 original transects and of these, at least one of the original markers was found for 20 transects. During the intervening years, some of the wooden markers had been consumed by fires, but based on the annotated aerial photograph, field notes and detailed recollections of the original observer (David Keith), transects were confidently reestablished within approximately 10 m of their original location. These formed the basis for establishing permanent swamp monitoring sites, which are now marked in the field at the positions of quadrats 1 and 30 with steel star pickets, extending approximately 1.5 m above ground surface, and located on the Map Grid of Australia (Geodectic Datum of Australia) using a global positioning system. Exploration and subsampling of the 1983 data showed that the floristic relationships between the 60 sites could be adequately retrieved if species frequencies were calculated from a sample of 30 quadrats within each transect (correlation of association matrices based on 60 and 30 quadrats yielded Mantel’s R>0.95). Therefore, only the first 30 quadrats of each transect were re-sampled in 2004 (Keith et al. 2007), 2009-2010 and 2014.
Study extent: Sites have been sampled in 1983, 2004, 2009–2010 and 2014. The next census is scheduled for 2019 or within 12 months of the next bushfire, whichever occurs first.
Project funding: Between 2012 and 2018 this project was part of, and funded through the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN) a facility within the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.