Big fires and their ecological impacts in Australian savannas

Size and frequency matters

C YATES, A EDWARDS, Jeremy Russell-Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Savannas are the most fire-prone of the earth's major biomes. The availability of various broad-scale satellite-derived fire mapping and regional datasets provides a framework with which to examine the seasonality, extent and implications of large fires with particular reference to biodiversity values in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. We document the significance of savanna fires in the fire-prone 'Top End' region of the Northern Territory, Australia, using 9 years (19972005) of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)-, Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM)- and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+)-derived fire mapping. Fire (patch) sizes from both AVHRR- and Landsat-scale mapping increased through the calendar year associated with progressive curing of grass and litter fuels. Fire frequency data at both satellite sensor scales indicate that regional fire regimes in higher rainfall regions are dominated by large (>1000 km 2) fires occurring typically at short (?23 years) fire return intervals. In discussion, we consider the ecological implications of these patch size distributions on regional fire-sensitive biota. Collectively, assembled data illustrate that many northern Australian savanna flora, fauna and habitats embedded within the savanna matrix are vulnerable to extensive and frequent fires, especially longer-lived obligate seeder plant taxa and relatively immobile vertebrate fauna with small home ranges. � IAWF 2008.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)768-781
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
    Volume17
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Fingerprint

    ecological impact
    savanna
    savannas
    radiometers
    Landsat
    patch size
    AVHRR
    fauna
    Northern Territory
    fire regime
    satellite sensor
    biome
    home range
    sensors (equipment)
    Landsat thematic mapper
    seasonality
    biota
    flora
    vertebrate
    litter

    Cite this

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    title = "Big fires and their ecological impacts in Australian savannas: Size and frequency matters",
    abstract = "Savannas are the most fire-prone of the earth's major biomes. The availability of various broad-scale satellite-derived fire mapping and regional datasets provides a framework with which to examine the seasonality, extent and implications of large fires with particular reference to biodiversity values in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. We document the significance of savanna fires in the fire-prone 'Top End' region of the Northern Territory, Australia, using 9 years (19972005) of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)-, Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM)- and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+)-derived fire mapping. Fire (patch) sizes from both AVHRR- and Landsat-scale mapping increased through the calendar year associated with progressive curing of grass and litter fuels. Fire frequency data at both satellite sensor scales indicate that regional fire regimes in higher rainfall regions are dominated by large (>1000 km 2) fires occurring typically at short (?23 years) fire return intervals. In discussion, we consider the ecological implications of these patch size distributions on regional fire-sensitive biota. Collectively, assembled data illustrate that many northern Australian savanna flora, fauna and habitats embedded within the savanna matrix are vulnerable to extensive and frequent fires, especially longer-lived obligate seeder plant taxa and relatively immobile vertebrate fauna with small home ranges. � IAWF 2008.",
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    Big fires and their ecological impacts in Australian savannas : Size and frequency matters. / YATES, C; EDWARDS, A; Russell-Smith, Jeremy.

    In: International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 17, No. 6, 2008, p. 768-781.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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    AB - Savannas are the most fire-prone of the earth's major biomes. The availability of various broad-scale satellite-derived fire mapping and regional datasets provides a framework with which to examine the seasonality, extent and implications of large fires with particular reference to biodiversity values in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. We document the significance of savanna fires in the fire-prone 'Top End' region of the Northern Territory, Australia, using 9 years (19972005) of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)-, Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM)- and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+)-derived fire mapping. Fire (patch) sizes from both AVHRR- and Landsat-scale mapping increased through the calendar year associated with progressive curing of grass and litter fuels. Fire frequency data at both satellite sensor scales indicate that regional fire regimes in higher rainfall regions are dominated by large (>1000 km 2) fires occurring typically at short (?23 years) fire return intervals. In discussion, we consider the ecological implications of these patch size distributions on regional fire-sensitive biota. Collectively, assembled data illustrate that many northern Australian savanna flora, fauna and habitats embedded within the savanna matrix are vulnerable to extensive and frequent fires, especially longer-lived obligate seeder plant taxa and relatively immobile vertebrate fauna with small home ranges. � IAWF 2008.

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