Fire & Fragmentation Project: several projects available
Start dates are flexible, so please contact Julian any time if you are interested.
A key knowledge gap is how the characteristics of fragmented landscapes (e.g. patch size and isolation) interact with the characteristics of fire regimes (e.g. fire size, patchiness and spatial distribution) to influence animal conservation. The broad objective of this project is to determine how both fragmentation and aspects of the fire regime influence the occurrence and movement potential of reptiles, mammals, birds and invertebrates.
We have project opportunities focused on each animal group. Data will be collected from sites previously established in western Victoria and eastern South Australia as part of the larger project.
Fire, Landscape Pattern & Biodiversity: "Fire and the ecology of flying insects"
Please contact Alan for further information.
Flying insects (e.g. butterflies, moths, beetles, flies) are an important part of forest ecosystems. They contribute to ecosystem function through services such as pollination, provide a large food resource for vertebrate fauna, and are extremely interesting in their own right. This project will examine how fire affects the abundance and community composition of flying insects. Fieldwork will be conducted in the beautiful Otway Ranges and complements Sandra's project examining the impacts of fire on micro-bats.
Kirsten worked with Kate in the Central Highlands to investigate the responses of Mountain Bobucks (Trichosurus cunninghami) to fire. She measured the home range sizes of animals fitted with GPS collars, and examined the response of home range size to fire severity and vegetation diversity.
She found that home ranges were smaller in areas burnt by high-severity fire in 2009 than in long-unburnt areas. Smaller home ranges reflect high quality habitat, and it's likely that regenerating acacia in burnt areas provides bobucks with an abundant food supply. Within areas burnt by high-severity fire, there was a positive relationship between home range size and vegetation-type diversity, indicating that riparian vegetation is particularly resource-rich.
These results will help researchers and land mangers better understand the implications of changing fire regimes for bobuck populations.
Well done Kirsten, and thanks to Julio, Kate and Kirsten for the photos!
We're excited to have been awarded the Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award for our Fire, Landscape Pattern and Biodiversity Project undertaken in the Otway Ranges over the past seven years. The award recognises outstanding contributions to fostering excellence in applied science for the benefit of park management.
This research a great example of university researchers working with industry partners (Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)) to achieve positive conservation outcomes. Parks Victoria supported the project through their Research Partners Program and DELWP through the IFER agreement (Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research). The project involved 17 students, who explored the responses of mammals, birds, invertebrates and plants to fire and landscape pattern.
Well done to everyone who has contributed to the project!
Having carefully balanced the evidence, we conclude that the honeymoon period lives on.
Last week the Fire & Fragmentation Project team ventured out to the heathy woodland between Dartmoor and Edenhope to set up their second round of camera traps. This work is part of Zahlia and Lauren's studies into the effects of fire and fragmentation on mammals. They are currently going through the photos from their first round of camera trapping, and will compile their favourites soon. Please stay tuned.
Thanks to Sarah, Lauren and Zahlia for providing all the evidence.
We will be posting regularly with information on what’s happening with our group at the Creswick campus, photos taken during fieldwork, volunteering opportunities and more!
If you’re interested in keeping up with some of the daily activities our group gets up to please like and follow our new page.
Sarah has recently finished the fieldwork component of her Masters project in the Otway Ranges.
She has been measuring the three-dimensional structure of vegetation at the long-term monitoring sites and collecting fuel hazard information. The next step is to explore how the flammability of different forest types changes over time using these data.
Thanks to all of the amazing volunteers (around 25 of them!) who have helped out in the field over the last eight months.
For the last few months Annalie, Ellen, Julian, Matt and a team of volunteers have been out working in the Otway Ranges, discovering (or re-discovering!) the long-term monitoring sites established there. These field trips have focused on deploying camera traps and measuring vegetation structure across a range of habitat types from wet forest to heathland.
Annalie has just started her PhD studying how variation in the fire regime (e.g. time since fire and fire severity) affects biodiversity in the Otway Ranges. The information collected from these initial excursions will help build on the long-term monitoring data previously collected by the Fire Ecology and Biodiversity Group. Hopefully this data will allow us to separate the effect of habitat type from the effects of fire diversity.
Ellen also recently began her Masters project, using the same dataset as Annalie to examine how forest flammability and vegetation structure relate to the occurrence of ground-dwelling mammals. She will combine the fauna data gathered from the motion-sensitive cameras with measurements of habitat structure, fuel hazard and new flammability modelling.
Many thanks to the amazing volunteers we’ve had so far. We still have a couple of field trips coming up so please contact Annalie if you’re interested in joining us for one of them!
Since February we’ve welcomed five new students, all of whom have hit the ground running by heading out to the field within weeks (or days) of commencing.
Annalie Dorph and Ellen Rochelmeyer are deploying camera traps and measuring vegetation structure at long-term monitoring sites in the Otway Ranges; Lauren Delaney and Zahlia Payne are studying the responses of ground-dwelling mammals to fire and fragmentation in the heathy woodland of western Victoria. Sarah Mulhall has been working with Lauren and Zahlia with a view to trapping reptiles in SW Victoria and SE South Australia later in the year, when Kelvin Doyle will also be joining the group to conduct a Masters project.
In the first of two bumper news catch-ups, we illustrate the activities of the heathy woodland team, who are working under the umbrella of the Fire & Fragmentation Project.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb