Complex responses of birds to landscape-level fire extent, fire severity and environmental drivers

Lindenmayer, David B., Blanchard, Wade, McBurney, Lachlan, Blair, David, Banks, Sam C., Driscoll, Don A., Smith, Annabel L. and Gill, A. M. 2014, Complex responses of birds to landscape-level fire extent, fire severity and environmental drivers, Diversity and distributions, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 467-477, doi: 10.1111/ddi.12172.

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Title Complex responses of birds to landscape-level fire extent, fire severity and environmental drivers
Author(s) Lindenmayer, David B.
Blanchard, Wade
McBurney, Lachlan
Blair, David
Banks, Sam C.
Driscoll, Don A.ORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A.
Smith, Annabel L.
Gill, A. M.
Journal name Diversity and distributions
Volume number 20
Issue number 4
Start page 467
End page 477
Total pages 11
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Place of publication Chichester, Eng.
Publication date 2014-04
ISSN 1366-9516
Keyword(s) community ecology
landscape-level fire
site fidelity
Summary Aim: To quantify bird responses to a large unplanned fire, taking into consideration landscape-level fire severity and extent, pre-fire site detection frequency and environmental gradients. Location: South-eastern Australia. Methods: A major wildfire in 2009 coincided with a long-term study of birds and provided a rare opportunity to quantify bird responses to wildfire. Using hierarchical Bayesian analysis, we modelled bird species richness and the detection frequency of individual species in response to a suite of explanatory variables, including (1) landscape-level fire severity and extent (2) pre-fire detection frequency, (3) site-level vegetation density and (4) environmental variables (e.g. elevation and topography). Results: Landscape-level fire severity had strong effects on bird species richness and the detection frequency of the majority of bird species. These effects varied markedly between species; most responded negatively to amount of severely burned forest in the landscape, one negatively to the amount of moderately burned forest and one responded negatively to the total area of burned forest. Only one species - the Flame Robin - responded positively to the amount of burned forest. Relationships with landscape-scale fire extent changed over time for one species - the Brown Thornbill - with initially depressed rates of detection recovering after just 2 years. The majority of species were significantly more likely to be detected in burned areas if they have been recorded there prior to the fire. Main conclusions: Birds responded strongly to the severity and spatial extent of fire. They also exhibited strong site fidelity even after severe wildfire which causes profound changes in vegetation cover - a response likely influenced by environmental features such as elevation and topography.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/ddi.12172
Field of Research 070503 Forestry Fire Management
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, John Wiley & Sons
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