Fire, Landscape Pattern &
This ongoing project comprises a long-term landscape-scale pseudo-experiment and smaller fire experiments at the scale of individual burn blocks. A summary of our findings to date can be found here.
The key objective of our landscape-scale studies is to better-understand how fire changes landscape spatial pattern in fire age classes, and how these changes influence the distribution and abundance of flora and fauna. We use landscape sampling units to test predicted positive relationships between species diversity and fire age class diversity.
We use before-after control-impact experiments to provide insights into the influence of prescribed fires on local animal populations. For example, GPS tracking of swamp wallabies revealed that individuals contracted their home ranges to unburnt gullies during fire but soon returned to their original home ranges, only avoiding severely burnt areas in the short term.
Our data also indicated that unburnt gullies were important for the persistence of several other species, including small mammals (e.g. agile antechinus and bush rat) and birds (e.g. brown thornbill and white-browed scrubwren).
Although unburnt vegetation enabled several native species to persist within the burn blocks, feral predators used burnt areas more intensively post-fire, potentially limiting the rate of recolonisation of burnt areas by native mammals.
Please contact Matt for further information about our research and student project opportunities.
Matthew Swan, Alan York, Julian Di Stefano, Holly Sitters, Sandra Penman, Sarah McColl-Gausden, Annalie Dorph, Ellen Rochelmeyer, Trent Penman.
This work is undertaken in partnership with the University of Melbourne's Bushfire Behaviour and Management group, DELWP and Parks Victoria. It is also supported by the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.