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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 28(6)

The distribution and abundance of ground-dwelling mammals in relation to time since wildfire and vegetation structure in south-eastern Australia

P. C. Catling, N. Coops and R. J. Burt

Wildlife Research 28(6) 555 - 565
Published: 08 January 2002

Abstract

Vegetation undergoes a natural succession after wildfire. Following an initial flush of vegetation, when light and other resources become limiting, the stand structure rapidly reaches a maximum. As a result, vegetation structure does not form an even distribution over the landscape, but rather a patchwork pattern. The position and characteristics of a patch of habitat in the landscape may be critical in determining the faunal composition. In this paper a sequence of ‘habitat complexity scores’ (which describe vegetation structure independently of plant species) collected over 20 years following a wildfire was utilised to estimate vegetation structure in relation to time since fire. This information was compared with data collected over the same period on medium-sized and large grounddwelling mammals to examine the response of mammals to changes in vegetation structure. Models are presented of the response of ground-dwelling mammals to time since wildfire and to changes in habitat complexity scores, with predictions up to 25 years after wildfire.



Full text doi:10.1071/WR00041

© CSIRO 2001

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