TS-CRC Student project - Assessment of the impact of saltwater intrusion on growth of Melaleuca spp on the South Alligator Floodplain

Northern Territory University, Darwin

Kath Lynch


Areas of the South Alligator Floodplain were subject to saltwater intrusion in recent years, resulting in the mortality of several species of trees on the floodplain. As an important riparian species, the death of large areas of Melaleuca prompted the study to investigate the tolerance of this genus to saltwater. The project is being conducted as a component of the coastal monitoring program of the Alligator River's area, currently being undertaken by ERISS.

The project's aim is to assess the sensitivity of Melaleuca spp to saltwater at various stages of its life. Individual observations are being made on the effects of saltwater on germination, seedling growth, and physiological responses of mature trees in the field. Where practicable, seeds are being collected from different areas around the NT to investigate the possibility of increased tolerance to saltwater from genetic variation. Seeds and leaves from trees currently growing on salt-affected sites are being used in experiments to compare with material from fresh water areas, to determine if any adaptations to a salt environment may have occurred. 


Dr Derek Eamus, University of Sydney
Dr Michael Douglas , NTU