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

MODIS time series as a tool for monitoring fires and their effects on savanna bird diversity

Noam Levin A E , Sarah Legge B , Bronwyn Price C D , Michiala Bowen C , Emily Litvack A , Martine Maron C and Clive McAlpine C

A Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905, Israel.

B Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, PMB 925, Derby, WA 6728, Australia.

C The University of Queensland, Landscape Ecology and Conservation Group, Centre for Spatial Environmental Research, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

D Forest and Parks Division, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria, 3/8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, Vic. 3002, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: noamlevin@mscc.huji.ac.il

International Journal of Wildland Fire 21(6) 680-694 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF11031
Submitted: 27 February 2011  Accepted: 12 January 2012   Published: 27 June 2012

Abstract

In this study, we aimed to explore the effect of fires on bird diversity in Australia’s tropical savannas. Bird surveys were conducted at 69 sites between 2005 and 2007 to estimate bird species richness and abundance within the Mornington Sanctuary, the Kimberley, north-west Australia. We used MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and Landsat satellite imagery to map fire scars and to quantify vegetation cover parameters, and QuickBird imagery to map the percentage tree cover. Bird species richness and abundance were higher in areas exhibiting minimum seasonal and interannual changes, e.g. in riparian areas, near water and where tree cover was high. We found a significant negative effect of fire on bird diversity following the extensive late dry-season fires of 2006. These findings support the view that intense and large fires are threatening biodiversity and reinforce the importance of reducing the occurrence of late dry-season fires, which are the most severe and extensive. MODIS satellite imagery was found to provide a cost-effective approach to monitoring savanna landscapes, assessing the state of vegetation and monitoring fire dynamics.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, fire scars, Landsat, NDVI, primary productivity, QuickBird.


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