Following discussions with ecologists and land managers in Adelaide last week, we are now offering two exciting PhD projects. Successful applicants will study the effects of fire and fragmentation on biodiversity in eucalypt woodlands:
The stringybark woodlands of western Victoria and eastern South Australia are typical of much of southeast Australia in that they are highly flammable and have been extensively cleared. This project involves collecting data on mammals or invertebrates to determine the influence of fire and fragmentation on species diversity and movement.
The Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia is recognised as one of Australia’s Biodiversity Hotspots and is home to threatened species like the Southern Brown Bandicoot and Mount Lofty Ranges Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. The aim of this project is to understand the influence of fire and fragmentation on key fauna species.
The projects will run from 2018 to 2021 and are based at the Creswick campus near Ballarat, Victoria. Both projects require collection of field data in the regions of Casterton (Project 1) or Adelaide (Project 2).
Further details, and information on how to apply, can be found here:
Please contact Holly firstname.lastname@example.org with any enquiries.
We're looking for volunteers to assist with drift fence installation for pitfall and funnel traps in southwest Victoria from Monday 28 August - Friday 1 September. This is a great opportunity to improve your knowledge of reptile trapping methods, learn more about the Fire & Fragmentation Project, and see some beautiful wildlife!
The week will be spent out in the field walking to sites, carrying heavy-ish equipment and installing drift fences, so a good level of physical fitness and enthusiasm is required. Basic food and accommodation at our field house in Casterton will be provided.
If you're not available, there will be further opportunities to volunteer later in September and October (dates TBC).
Please send all enquiries to Sarah.
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.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb