We're offering an exciting PhD opportunity within the Fire & Fragmentation Project. The aim of project will be to determine the arrangement of fires that maximises habitat suitability, movement capacity and gene flow for mammals or invertebrates in a fragmented landscape.
Please find further information here.
The project will run between 2018 and 2021 and is based at the University of Melbourne's Creswick campus. We are committed to supporting PhD students by providing:
Applicants should send a written expression of interest, including CV and statement of results, to Holly by 25 September 2017. Holly can also be contacted with any enquiries.
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.
Small mammals select resources based on their requirements for food, shelter and protection from predators. Understanding the influence of fire on resource selection can help to guide species conservation and management.
Our new paper investigates the effects of a planned fire on resource selection, abundance, body condition, and movement pathways of a native rodent, the bush rat (Rattus fuscipes). This work formed Amber Fordyce's Honours thesis, and involved gathering data from 60 individuals fitted with spool-and-line tracking devices at Breakfast Creek in the Otway Ranges.
After the fire, rats selected patches of unburnt vegetation, and no rats were caught at a trapping site where most of the understory had been burnt. The fire also reduced bush rat abundance and body condition and caused movement pathways to become more convoluted. After the fire, some individuals moved through burnt areas but the majority of movements occurred within unburnt patches.
Our findings suggest the influence of planned fire on small mammals will depend on the resulting mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches and how well this corresponds to the resource requirements of particular species.
Thanks to Amber, Bronwyn and Julian for the photos. Find the paper here:
Fordyce, A., Hradsky, B.A., Ritchie, E. & Di Stefano, J. (2016). Fire affects microhabitat selection, movement patterns and body condition of an Australian rodent (Rattus fuscipes). Journal of Mammalogy. 97(1): 102-111
Kate's project aims to (a) understand the importance of fire edges in influencing ecological patterns and processes in flammable landscapes, and (b) quantify the temporal and spatial influence of fire edges on fauna.
Please contact Kate for more information on her research, and find her abstract below.
Superb lyrebirds (Menura novaehollandiae) are famous for mimicking the calls of other species, as well as chainsaws, car alarms and camera shutters.
Kate has recently discovered they also have a proclivity for attacking the cameras she’s using to study how fire edges influence animal distribution, abundance and movement in the Central Highlands.
She’s put together a video depicting a feisty encounter between a camera and a particularly determined individual.
The video contains prolonged scenes of strong violence and coarse language.
Watch at your peril.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb