Fire Ecology


We have a long-running relationship with Bush Heritage Australia at their Charles Darwin Reserve, 400 km north-east of Perth in the northern wheatbelt. The reserve sits at the interface of the mesic south-west and the arid interior of WA and contains large areas of intact semi-arid shrublands and eucalypt woodlands.

Dr Eddie van Etten, a senior lecturer at ECU and member of our group, has a particular interest in shrubland fire dynamics in this area. We have extended Eddie’s work to look at the impact of shrubland fire history on fauna communities. As part of his PhD, Dr Tim Doherty examined the influence of  fire history on small mammal and reptile communities, and more recently our group undertook a similar project looking at the bird community, which was funded by the Gunduwa Regional Conservation Association. Shrubland birds have been poorly studied compared to their woodland cousins and after bashing through the dense acacia thickets, we think we know why!

Read our piece in The Conversation (2016). Bushfires are pushing species towards extinction, by Tim Doherty, Martine Maron, Robert Davis and Emma Burgess.

Key journal publications:

  1. Doherty, T.S., van Etten, E.J.B., Davis, R.A., Knuckey, C., Radford, J. (2016). Ecosystem responses to fire: incorporating data on birds, plants, mammals and reptiles to inform management strategies. Ecosystems. 20:872-884
  2. Davis, R.A., Doherty, T.S., Van Etten, E.J.B., Radford, J.Q., Knuckey, C., Holmes, F. and Davis, B. (2016). Conserving long unburnt vegetation is important for bird species, guilds and diversity. Biodiversity and Conservation. 25:2709-2722.
  3. Doherty, T.S., Davis, R.A.van Etten, E.J.B., Collier, N. and Krawiec, J. (2015) Response of a shrubland mammal and reptile community to a history of landscape-scale wildfire. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 24:534-.543.
  4. Doherty, T.S., Davis, R.A. and van Etten, E.J.B. (2015). A game of cat-and-mouse: microhabitat influences rodent foraging in recently burnt, but not long unburnt shrublandsJournal of Mammalogy, 96:324-331.

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