Responses of lizards to three experimental fires in the savanna forests of Kakadu National Park

C. R. Trainor, J. C.Z. Woinarski

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    A species-rich lizard community responded variably to a range of experimental fire regimes in a tropical savanna. Heteronotia binoei was the only lizard species that showed a short-term response to fire, decreasing in abundance directly after the early- and late-burns. H. binoei and Diporiphora bilineata were significantly more abundant in early-burn treatments. Carlia amax was more abundant in unburnt and early-burn treatments. C. munda was more abundant in unburnt and early-burn sites. Differences in the relative abundance of species between treatments is attributed to site differences in vegetation structure, and fire-induced changes to the structure of habitat. Early-burn sites were significantly richer in lizard species (P<0·05); however, overall lizard abundance, Shannon-Wiener diversity and Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) 1 and DCA 2 scores were not significantly different, suggesting that habitat partitioning has a stronger influence than the direct effects of fire. Many lizards were associated with a direct gradient of moisture availability, including a seepage assemblage, with Carlia gracilis and Sphenomorphus darwiniensis correlated with increased moisture, a well-developed canopy and abundant leaf litter. An assemblage associated with the drier end of the gradient included Carlia triacantha, Ctenotus kurnbudj, Diporiphora magna and D. bilineata. The lizard composition of most quadrats was intermediate along the moisture gradient and was associated with typical eucalypt savanna communities. Lizard species that largely are restricted to the moist seepage zones may be particularly sensitive to late dry-season fires which alter this habitat type.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)771-776
    Number of pages6
    JournalWildlife Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


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