Impacts of Fire on the Group Composition of the Red-backed Fairy-wren Malurus melanocephalus cruentatus in the Non-breeding Season

Mao Nakamura, Yoshihide Takaki, Sayaka Mori, Keisuke Ueda, Isao Nishiumi, Masaoki Takagi, Richard Noske, Kazuhiro Eguchi

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    We conducted a study to clarify the impact of bush fires on the structure of non-breeding flocks of the Red-backed Fairy-wren Malurus melanocephalus cruentatus in the Australian monsoon tropics. Overall, the mean group size was large in the mid dry season, becoming smaller with the progress of season. Large groups occurred at burnt sites, while at unburnt sites group size was smaller owing to a higher proportion of pair-sized groups. Bush fire destroyed habitat and forced resident birds to emigrate. Conversely, unburnt sites were used as a refuge during fires. However, in the non-breeding season, such stable habitats were occupied by stable and small-sized groups and were already saturated. Therefore, individuals that immigrated into these habitats during fires were forced to emigrate again. After a fire, many birds invaded burnt sites from the surrounding area and aggregated in large but unstable flocks that consequently diminished due to the individual separation of young males just before the breeding season. Bush fires resulted in the reorganisation of groups and re-establishment of territory. � Yamashina Institute for Ornithology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-64
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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