In our new paper, published online first in Landscape Ecology, we address two questions: 1) do mammals prefer lots of long-unburnt vegetation in the landscape or a mix of long-unburnt and recently-burnt vegetation? 2) are these preferences influenced by the matrix of other land uses, including the presence of nearby paddocks or plantations? This work arose from Lauren Delaney's Honours thesis and involved camera-trap surveys of mammals in the heathy woodland of southwest Victoria on Gunditjmara country. We studied eight species and found that four of them (eastern and western grey kangaroo, red-necked wallaby and yellow-footed antechinus) preferred a mix of fire ages within landscapes covered by native vegetation. However, this was not the case when paddocks or plantations were present nearby. Our study highlights the importance of examining interacting threats, and indicates that animal responses to fire management actions may differ according to the spatial arrangement of land-use types.
This story by Holly Sitters was originally published in Pursuit. It features results from our new paper showing that land managers can help conserve kangaroos by providing a mix of fire histories within large expanses of native vegetation.
Find out more here: Delaney, L., Di Stefano, J. & Sitters, H. (2021). Mammal responses to spatial pattern in fire history depend on landscape context. Landscape Ecology. 36(3): 897-914.
While kangaroos are easier to spot than many of Australia’s more secretive native species, a suite of threats currently face these magnificent animals. The 2019-20 fire season was exceptional because, according to modern records, it consumed forests that had never before burnt at such vast scales.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb