The impacts of fire on birds in Australia's tropical savannas

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    60 Citations (Scopus)


    The ecology of Australia's tropical savannas is shaped by the near-pervasive influence of fire. Constituting ∼20% of Australia's land area, tropical savannas contribute >75% of the area burnt in Australia each year. Across most of Australia's tropical savannas, components of biodiversity are declining, including many species of birds. This review seeks to assess whether that decline is linked to current fire regimes. However, relevant studies are few, short-term and opportunistic, and indicate rather than demonstrate the effects of fire. There is no set of agreed paradigms for contextualising the relationship between birds and fire regimes in this region or for any management consequences. We conclude that the current fire regime is suboptimal for many species of birds, particularly for granivores, frugivores, hollow-dependent species and those that nest on or near the ground. For conservation reserves, we recommend that fire management protocols include the explicit targets that: (1) at least 25% of the savanna landscape is at least 3 years unburnt; (2) at least 5% is at least 10 years unburnt; (3) fire-sensitive non-savanna vegetation types are increasing or stable and (4) populations of selected hollow-nesting, ground-nesting, frugivorous and granivorous birds are increasing or stable. We also identify key knowledge gaps that currently inhibit conservation management.Journal compilation 

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)319-352
    Number of pages34
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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