A common aim of fire management is to maintain plant diversity at the landscape scale, so disentangling the effects of fire from underlying environmental variation is important.
In our new paper published in Forest Ecology and Management, we studied the effects of both environmental factors (vegetation type) and fire history on plant diversity in the Otway Ranges. Our survey units were 100-ha mosaics containing different numbers of vegetation types and post-fire age classes.
We found, as expected, that plant diversity increased with the number of vegetation types in mosaics, and we also detected a weaker positive relationship between plant diversity and the number of age classes. This effect was much stronger, however, when each vegetation type was considered separately, and species diversity was more sensitive to the number of age classes in productive wet forests than in drier heathlands.
In variable landscapes, the effectiveness of mosaic burning for maintaining plant species diversity is best assessed at a small scale, within vegetation types.
JS Cohn, J Di Stefano, F Christie, G Cheers, A York (2015) How do heterogeneity in vegetation types and post-fire age-classes contribute to plant diversity at the landscape scale? Forest Ecology and Management. 346: 22-30.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb