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Time since fire influences food resources for an endangered species, Carnaby’s cockatoo, in a fire-prone landscape

journal contribution
posted on 2014-07-01, 00:00 authored by L E Valentine, R Fisher, Barbara Wilson, T Sonneman, W D Stock, P A Fleming, R J Hobbs
Where threatened species persist in multiple use landscapes, management activities, such as prescribed
burning, may influence the availability of resources for those species. We examined how time since fire
can influence food resources for the endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) in banksia
woodlands of southwestern Australia. Tree density and cone productivity of dominant plant species,
Banksia attenuata and Banksia menziesii, were compared across 44 sites of varying post-fire aged vegetation.
The number of Carnaby’s cockatoos that could be supported in banksia woodlands was estimated
using the bird’s energetic requirements and seed energy content. Banksia attenuata produced more cones
at sites aged 10–30 years since fire in both survey years, while cone productivity for B. menziesii was highest
in very old sites (>35 years since fire) in one year only. Higher numbers of Carnaby’s cockatoos were
predicted to be supported in vegetation aged between 14–30 years since fire, peaking in vegetation aged
20–25 years. The current distribution of post-fire aged vegetation within this area (>60% burnt within the
last 7 years) is predicted to support 2725 Carnaby’s cockatoos, representing 25–35% of the estimated
birds reliant on the area. Our results indicate that food resources are influenced by time since fire and,
consequently, if optimising food resources was an objective, may be manipulated by altering burning patterns.
While human and asset protection is a priority for prescribed burning, management of landscapes
for improved persistence of threatened species is also important and complex trade-offs will have to be
considered.

History

Journal

Biological Conservation

Volume

175

Article number

C

Pagination

1 - 9

Publisher

Elsevier

Location

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ISSN

0006-3207

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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