Fire ecology and management of northern Australian sandstone heath

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


Sandstone heath is a shrub dominated vegetation community occupying rocky sites with shallow, nutrient deficient atop sandstone plateaux of Western Australia’s Kimberley region and the Northern Territory’s Top End. The sandstone heath of the Arnhem Plateau, NT, a hotspot of plant diversity and endemism, is characterized by a high proportion of fire sensitive obligate-seeding shrubs. Such shrubs are reported to be vulnerable to return fire return intervals which do not allow adequate time for seed production. Due to contemporary fire regimes, the sandstone heath of the Arnhem Plateau was listed as a threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in 2011.
This project aims to focus on understudied aspects of Arnhem Plateau sandstone heath fire ecology in order to inform ecologically appropriate fire management. This project will explore; (1) fire behaviour in sandstone heath, (2) the post-fire response of sandstone heath flora and (3) soil seedbank dynamics under sandstone heath. The findings of this project will be synthesised with existing ecological understanding of this unique vegetation community to develop tolerable fire intervals. Ultimately, through close collaboration with land owners and managers, this project aims to inform ecologically appropriate management strategies for this threatened ecological community.
Effective start/end date18/02/19 → …


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