International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

What factors influence rapid post-fire site re-occupancy? A case study of the endangered Eastern Bristlebird in eastern Australia

David B. Lindenmayer A C , Chris MacGregor A , Jeff T. Wood A , Ross B. Cunningham A , Mason Crane A , Damian Michael A , Rebecca Montague-Drake A , Darren Brown A , Martin Fortescue B , Nick Dexter B , Matt Hudson B and A. Malcolm Gill A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Fenner School of Environment and Society, W K Hancock Building West (Bldg 43), The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

B Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Jervis Bay Village, Jervis Bay Territory, ACT 2540, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: david.lindenmayer@anu.edu.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 18(1) 84-95 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF07048
Submitted: 12 March 2007  Accepted: 8 May 2008   Published: 17 February 2009

Abstract

We quantified the post-fire recovery of the endangered Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus) at Booderee National Park, south-eastern Australia. Occurrence was recorded on 110 sites a year before, and for 3 years after a major unplanned fire in 2003. Although the Eastern Bristlebird is thought to be sensitive to wildfire, data indicated that the species either persisted continuously on burned sites or returned to previously occupied sites within 2 years. Post-fire site occupancy was associated with several factors: (1) pre-fire site occupancy; (2) vegetation type; (3) spatial heterogeneity in fire and the amount of unburned vegetation surrounding a site; and (4) site-level vegetation structure (e.g. diversity of understorey and midstorey plants). The most likely mechanism underpinning rapid re-occupancy was movement by resident birds to unburned parts elsewhere within their territories. The addition of intensive feral predator baiting within the present study suggests that predation may have a more important effect on populations after unplanned fires than formerly recognised. Our results have significant implications for fire management in areas where the Eastern Bristlebird occurs. Care should be taken with back-burning during unplanned fires and the spatial and temporal arrangement of prescribed fires to ensure unburned vegetation remains as refugia to facilitate bird persistence.

Additional keywords: avifauna, south-eastern Australia, vegetation management.


Acknowledgements

The current project on the Eastern Bristlebird is part of a major study in Booderee National Park. It is funded by the Australian Research Council, the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the Department of Defence. The strong support of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community is also most gratefully acknowledged and we are privileged to work on land that is co-managed by them. Scott Surridge, Peter Cochrane and Con Boekel have been important supporters of this project since its inception. Counts of birds were completed through the generous assistance of highly experienced expert volunteers from the Canberra Ornithologists Group. In particular, we thank Bruce Lindenmayer, Jenny Bounds, Martin Moffat, Terry Munro, Peter Fullager and Chris Davey.


References


Agee JK (1993) ‘Fire Ecology of the Pacific Northwest Forests.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC)

Alexander JD, Seavy NE , Hosten PE (2007) Using conservation plans and bird monitoring to evaluate the ecological effects of management: an example with fuels reduction activities in south-west Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management  238, 375–383.
CrossRef |

Baker J (1997) The decline, response to fire, status and management of the Eastern Bristlebird. Pacific Conservation Biology  3, 235–243.


Baker JR (2000) The Eastern Bristlebird: cover-dependent and fire-sensitive. Emu  100, 286–298.
CrossRef |

Bradstock RA, Williams JE, Gill AM (Eds) (2002) ‘Flammable Australia: the Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent.’ (Cambridge University Press: Melbourne)

Burton PJ, Messier C, Smith DW, Adamowicz WL (2003) ‘Towards Sustainable Management of the Boreal Forest.’ (National Research Council of Canada: Ottawa, Canada)

Cho G (1995) The Jervis Bay environment. In ‘Jervis Bay: a Place of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Value’. (Eds G Cho, A Georges, R Stoutjesijk, R Longmore) pp. 3–8. (Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra)

Christensen P, Recher H, Hoare J (1981) Responses of open forest to fire regimes. In ‘Fire and the Australian Biota’. (Eds AM Gill, RH Groves, IR Noble) pp. 367–394. (Australian Academy of Science: Canberra)

Converse SJ, Whiate GC, Farris KL , Zack S (2006) Small mammals and forest fuel reduction: national-scale responses to fire and fire surrogates. Ecological Applications  16, 1717–1729.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Cunningham RB, Lindenmayer DB, Nix HA , Lindenmayer BD (1999) Quantifying observer heterogeneity in bird counts. Australian Journal of Ecology  24, 270–277.
CrossRef |

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008) Threatened species and threatened ecological communities. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra, Australia. Available at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html [Verified December 2008]

Diamond J (1986) Overview: laboratory experiments, field experiments and natural experiments. In ‘Community Ecology’. (Eds J Diamond, TJ Case) pp. 3–22. (Harper and Row: New York)

Field SA, Tyre AJ , Possingham HP (2002) Estimating bird species richness: how should repeat surveys be organized in time? Austral Ecology  27, 624–629.
CrossRef |

Ford HA (1979) Birds. In ‘Natural History of Kangaroo Island’. (Eds MJ Tyler, CR Twidale, JK Ling) pp. 103–114. (Royal Society of South Australia: Adelaide)

Franklin JF, Lindenmayer DB, MacMahon JA, McKee A, Magnusson JD, Perry D, Waide R , Foster DR (2000) Threads of continuity: ecosystem disturbances, biological legacies and ecosystem recovery. Conservation Biology in Practice  1, 8–16.
CrossRef |

Gill AM (1975) Fire and the Australian flora: a review. Australian Forestry  38, 4–25.


Gill AM, Woinarski JC, York A (Eds) (1999) ‘Australia’s Biodiversity – Responses to Fire. Plants, Birds and Invertebrates.’ (Environment Australia: Canberra)

Haila Y, Nicholls AO, Hanski IK , Raivio S (1996) Stochasticity in bird habitat selection: year-to-year changes in territory locations in a boreal forest bird assemblage. Oikos  76, 536–552.
CrossRef |

Hall LS, Krausman PA , Morrison ML (1997) The habitat concept and a plea for the use of standard terminology. Wildlife Society Bulletin  25, 173–182.


Higgins PJ, Peter JM (Eds) (2002) ‘Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds: Pardalotes to Shrike-Thrushes.’ (Oxford University Press: Melbourne)

Hutto RL (2006) Toward meaningful snag-management guidelines for post-fire salvage logging in North American conifer forests. Conservation Biology  20, 984–993.

CrossRef | PubMed |

Ingwersen F (1977) Regeneration of vegetation after fire at Jervis Bay and its implications for management. MSc thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

Keith D, Williams J, Woinarski J (2002) Fire management and biodiversity conservation: key approaches and principles. In ‘Flammable Australia: the Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent’. (Eds R Bradstock, J Williams, AM Gill) pp. 401–425. (Cambridge University Press: Melbourne)

Letnic M (2003) The effects of experimental patch burning and rainfall on small mammals in the Simpson Desert, Queensland. Wildlife Research  30, 547–563.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer DB , McCarthy MA (2002) Congruence between natural and human forest disturbance – an Australian perspective. Forest Ecology and Management  155, 319–335.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer DB, Cunningham RB, MacGregor C, Tribolet C , Donnelly CF (2001) A prospective longitudinal study of landscape matrix effects on woodland remnants: experimental design and baseline data for mammals, reptiles and nocturnal birds. Biological Conservation  101, 157–169.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer DB, Cunningham RB, Donnelly CF, Nix HA , Lindenmayer BD (2002) The distribution of birds in a novel landscape context. Ecological Monographs  72, 1–18.


McCullagh P, Nelder JA (1989) ‘Generalised Linear Models.’ 2nd edn. (Chapman and Hall: New York)

McNemar Q (1947) Note on the sampling error of the difference between correlated proportions or differences. Psychometrika  12, 153–157.
CrossRef |

Mills K (1995) Natural vegetation. In ‘Jervis Bay: a Place of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Value’. (Eds G Cho, A Georges, R Stoutjesijk, R Longmore) pp. 71–81. (Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra)

Pyke G, Saillard R , Smith R (1995) Abundance of Eastern Bristlebirds in relation to habitat and fire history. Emu  95, 106–110.


Pyke GH, Recher HF (1983) Censusing Australian birds: a summary of procedures and a scheme for standardisation of data presentation and storage. In ‘Methods of Censusing Birds in Australia, ANZAAS and the Western Australian Group of the RAOU Symposium Proceedings’, Perth. (Ed. SJ Davies) pp. 55–63. (Department of Conservation and Environment: Perth)

Richards SA, Possingham HP , Tizard J (1999) Optimal fire management for maintaining community diversity. Ecological Applications  9, 880–892.
CrossRef |

Rülcker C, Angelstam P , Rosenberg P (1994) Natural forest-fire dynamics can guide conservation and silviculture in boreal forests. SkogForsk  2, 1–4.


Russell BG, Smith B , Augee ML (2003) Changes to a population of Common Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) after bushfire. Wildlife Research  30, 389–396.
CrossRef |

Schwarz G (1978) Estimating the dimension of a model. The Annals of Statistics  6, 461–464.
CrossRef |

Taws N (1998) ‘Fire and Vegetation Management in Jervis Bay Territory.’ (Environment Australia: Canberra)

Turner MG, Romme WH , Tinker DB (2003) Surprises and lessons from the 1988 Yellowstone fires. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment  1, 351–358.


Whelan R, Rodgerson L, Dickman CR, Sutherland EF (2002) Critical life cycles of plants and animals: developing a process-based understanding of population changes in fire-prone landscapes. In ‘Flammable Australia: the Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent’. (Eds RA Bradstock, JE Williams, AM Gill) pp. 94–124. (Cambridge University Press: Melbourne)

Whelan RJ (1995) ‘The Ecology of Fire.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Williams DG (1995) Heaths and scrubs. In ‘Jervis Bay: a Place of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Value’. (Eds G Cho, A Georges, R Stoutjesijk, R Longmore) pp. 83–90. (Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra)

Woinarski JCZ (1999) Fire and Australian birds: a review. In ‘Australia’s Biodiversity – Responses to Fire, Biodiversity’. (Eds AM Gill, JCZ Woinarski, A York) pp. 55–112. (Environment Australia: Canberra)

York A (1999) Long-term effects of repeated prescribed burning on forest invertebrates: management implications for the conservation of biodiversity. In ‘Australia’s Biodiversity – Responses to Fire. Plants, Birds and Invertebrates’. (Eds AM Gill, JC Woinarski, A York) pp. 181–259. (Environment Australia: Canberra)



Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (66 KB) Export Citation Cited By (25)