Managing fire mosaics for small mammal conservation : a landscape perspective

Kelly, Luke T., Nimmo, Dale G., Spence-Bailey, Lisa M., Taylor, Rick S., Watson, Simon J., Clarke, Michael F. and Bennett, Andrew F. 2012, Managing fire mosaics for small mammal conservation : a landscape perspective, Journal of applied ecology, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 412-421.

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Title Managing fire mosaics for small mammal conservation : a landscape perspective
Author(s) Kelly, Luke T.
Nimmo, Dale G.
Spence-Bailey, Lisa M.
Taylor, Rick S.
Watson, Simon J.
Clarke, Michael F.
Bennett, Andrew F.
Journal name Journal of applied ecology
Volume number 49
Issue number 2
Start page 412
End page 421
Total pages 10
Publisher Wiley - Blackwell Publishing
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2012-04
ISSN 0021-8901
1365-2664
Keyword(s) disturbance
habitat
landscape ecology
mallee
semi-arid
wildfire
Summary 1.Fire is a major driver of ecosystem structure and function worldwide. It is also widely used as a management tool to achieve conservation goals. A common objective is the maintenance of 'fire mosaics' comprising spatially heterogeneous patches of differing fire history. However, it is unclear what properties of fire mosaics most enhance conservation efforts. Here we focus on the spatial and temporal properties of fire-prone landscapes that influence the distribution of small mammals.

2.We surveyed small mammals in 28 landscapes (each 12·6km2) representing a range of fire histories in the Murray Mallee region (104 000km2) of semi-arid Australia. Generalised linear mixed models were used to examine the influence of five landscape properties on the capture rate of individual species and the species richness of native small mammals. We investigated the influence of the proportional extent of fire age-classes, the diversity of fire age-classes, the extent of the dominant vegetation type, rainfall history and biogeographic context.

3.Three of four study species were associated with the spatial extent of fire age-classes. Older vegetation was found to provide important habitat for native small mammals. Overall, however, rainfall history and biogeographic context were dominant influences: for example, the species richness of native mammals was positively associated with above-average rainfall. There was little evidence that the diversity of fire age-classes influenced either the capture rate of individual species or species richness.

4.Synthesis and applications. In fire-prone environments, habitat availability can change markedly over short time-scales. Sufficient habitat at a suitable seral stage within the landscape is a key requirement for species conservation. In mallee ecosystems, the retention of older vegetation is recommended to create more desirable fire mosaics for native small mammals. In addition to such spatial properties of mosaics that are amenable to manipulation, an understanding of how ecological processes affect the biota (such as variation in rainfall-driven productivity) is also essential for informed conservation management.
Language eng
Field of Research 050104 Landscape Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30046861

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