Please contact Kate for more information on her research, and find her abstract below.
Edge effects in fire-prone landscapes - Ecological importance and implications for fauna
Fire is an important process in many ecosystems and can have a profound influence on animal communities by altering the distribution and abundance of resources over time. It is well established that fire regimes alter landscape pattern, which is predicted to influence behavioural processes such as habitat selection, home range formation, dispersal and distribution of many species. Many studies have examined the ecological importance of burnt and unburnt parts of a landscape, however very few have explicitly considered the interface or transition zone (edge) between these patches. Habitat edges are ecologically important because they have the potential to influence a wide range of patterns and processes (such as animal movement) in a landscape. Fire is a disturbance process that creates multiple edges in a landscape, through unplanned fire events (wildfire), planned fire activities (prescribed burning) or through fire-management processes (fuel breaks). Although edges have been widely studied in modified landscapes, the ecological importance of edges in natural systems remains poorly understood. In particular, how fire-related edges influence fauna distribution, abundance and movement in flammable landscapes remains largely unknown. The overarching aims of this project are 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.