Distribution of disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi in Wilsons Promontory National Park and potential for further impact

Abstract

The extent of disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi was determined within vegetation communities of Wilsons Promontory National Park. Aerial survey of visible symptoms by helicopter and systematic survey along all roads and tracks followed by isolation of the pathogen from soil found that in total 551 ha of moist foothill forest, heath and heathy woodland broad vegetation types were affected by the disease. P. cinnamomi was isolated from 93% of sites that, based on the presence of visible symptoms, were expected to yield the pathogen. The species-rich heathy woodland was most affected with 6.5% of the total area of this type showing symptoms of disease. The size of infestation ranged from 229 ha on the slopes of the Vereker Range in the north to less than 1 ha along the Sealers Cove Walking Track in the south. The potential for disease to spread into uninfested vegetation was estimated for all sites from which P. cinnamomi was isolated. Eight of 18 sites where evidence of disease was found were estimated to have a high potential for further disease spread. This study indicates that even though the disease may be waning in some areas of the Park, the pathogen is active and easily isolated from others and provides a continuing threat to susceptible vegetation communities.

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