Dispersal and spatial population dynamics of threatened mammals in fire-prone landscapes.

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details

Description

The Australian continent has the highest rate of mammal extinction on Earth. The dramatic mammal declines recorded across central and southern Australia following the arrival of Europeans are now being recorded across northern Australia. Research has identified the critical threats that interact to drive the decline of northern mammals: altered fire regimes, feral cats and grazing by introduced herbivores. Across such large landscapes, the control of cats and reduction of herbivore damage remains difficult and expensive. Fire, however, can be managed on a landscape scale to improve conservation outcomes. To do this, we first need a better understanding of the role of fire in mammal decline. There remain key knowledge gaps around how spatial fire patterns relate to mechanisms of dispersal, survival and recolonisation dynamics that are underlying the decline of mammals across northern Australia. To address these knowledge gaps, I will:
1. Review the literature on spatial patterns of fire and implications for populations.
2. Apply simulation models to predict genetic patterns of mammals in disturbance-prone environments and evaluate the power of landscape genetics methods to study dispersal under such conditions.
3. Use fire experiments and landscape genetics to understand post-fire dispersal and survival dynamics of mammals on the Tiwi Islands.
These studies will add insights and empirical data to the ongoing development of effective land management practices to prevent further mammal extinctions.

StatusNot started

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