Assessing the potential distribution of buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) in Australia using a climate-soil model

B.E. LawsonA,C, M.J. BryantA and A.J. FranksB

A Pest Management Strategy, Land Protection, Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia.

B School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia.

C Present address: School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


The purpose of this study is to test a simple, rapid method of assessing the potential distribution of environmental weeds. As a case study, we model the potential distribution of buffel grass, an invasive exotic perennial pasture grass species, for the Australian continent based on an analysis of the global distributional records, climatic requirements and edaphic preferences of the species. The CLIMEX climate-only model predicts that approximately 31% of mainland Australia is potentially highly suitable and 32% suitable for buffel grass growth. In contrast, the climate-soil model predicts a potential Australian distribution of 25% highly suitable and 43% suitable for buffel grass growth. The results of both models are consistent with available specimen data regarding the present national distribution and the biology of this species. We conclude that our climate-soil model shows some improvement over the climate-only model although further refinements are necessary to extend this work.

Keywords: CLIMEX, exotic species, GIS, invasive species, native vegetation management, pasture grass, predictive modelling, soils.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2004) 19 (4) 155-163.