Patterns of landscape fire and predicted vegetation response in the North Kimberley region of Western Australia

Rohan Fisher, T Vigilante, C Yates, Jeremy Russell-Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The paper reports on the development of a decadal fire history, 1990-1999, derived from Landsat imagery, and associated assessment of landscape-scale patterns, in a remote, sparsely human-populated region of the high rainfall zone of monsoonal north-western Australia. The assembled fire history confirms observations, derived from coarser-scale imagery, that substantial areas of the North Kimberley are burnt each year. The annual mean extent of burning was 31% (albeit involving marked inter-annual variability), with most burning occurring in the latter part of the dry season under relatively severe fire weather conditions. Extent of burning was found to be associated with intensity of landuse; most burning occurred on pastoral lands, particularly in association with more fertile basalt soils. Based on previous modelling studies, predicted effects of contemporary fire regimes include increased development of woody regeneration size-classes, especially on non-basalt substrates. In contrast, on sandstone-derived substrata, fire interval data indicate that longer-lived obligate-seeder shrub species are likely to be suppressed and ultimately displaced by contemporary fire regimes. Such observations are supported by recent evidence of regional collapse of the long-lived obligate seeder tree species, Callitris intratropica. Collectively, assembled data point to the need to undertake a thorough appraisal of the status of regional biota in this remote, ostensibly ecologically intact region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)369-379
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
    Volume12
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

    Fingerprint

    Western Australia
    fire history
    vegetation
    fire regime
    imagery
    Callitris
    fire weather
    history
    basalt
    sandstone
    Landsat
    dry season
    biota
    shrub
    shrubs
    regeneration
    land use
    rain
    substrate
    rainfall

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The paper reports on the development of a decadal fire history, 1990-1999, derived from Landsat imagery, and associated assessment of landscape-scale patterns, in a remote, sparsely human-populated region of the high rainfall zone of monsoonal north-western Australia. The assembled fire history confirms observations, derived from coarser-scale imagery, that substantial areas of the North Kimberley are burnt each year. The annual mean extent of burning was 31{\%} (albeit involving marked inter-annual variability), with most burning occurring in the latter part of the dry season under relatively severe fire weather conditions. Extent of burning was found to be associated with intensity of landuse; most burning occurred on pastoral lands, particularly in association with more fertile basalt soils. Based on previous modelling studies, predicted effects of contemporary fire regimes include increased development of woody regeneration size-classes, especially on non-basalt substrates. In contrast, on sandstone-derived substrata, fire interval data indicate that longer-lived obligate-seeder shrub species are likely to be suppressed and ultimately displaced by contemporary fire regimes. Such observations are supported by recent evidence of regional collapse of the long-lived obligate seeder tree species, Callitris intratropica. Collectively, assembled data point to the need to undertake a thorough appraisal of the status of regional biota in this remote, ostensibly ecologically intact region.",
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    Patterns of landscape fire and predicted vegetation response in the North Kimberley region of Western Australia. / Fisher, Rohan; Vigilante, T; Yates, C; Russell-Smith, Jeremy.

    In: International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 12, No. 3-4, 2003, p. 369-379.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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