Aboriginal burning promotes fine-scale pyrodiversity and native predators in Australia's Western Desert

Rebecca Bliege Bird, Douglas W. Bird, Luis E. Fernandez, Nyalanka Taylor, Wakka Taylor, Dale Nimmo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Both invasive mesopredators and altered fire regimes impact populations of vulnerable native species. Understanding how these forces interact is critical for designing better conservation measures for endangered species. This study draws on Indigenous ecological knowledge and practice to explore heterogeneity in faunal responses to Indigenously managed landscapes in the Western Desert of Australia. Using track plot surveys and satellite image analysis of fire histories, we find evidence that pyrodiversity increases activity measures of dingoes and monitor lizards. Dingoes were more active in recently burnt patches, while foxes were more active in slightly older burnt patches. These results add to previous work showing significant effects of pyrodiversity on kangaroo populations in the region. Together, the findings suggest that Aboriginal burning not only creates diverse niches for native animals, it helps to facilitate the ecological role of species that are themselves functionally vital. This work adds to a growing body of research suggesting that the loss of Aboriginal burning can cascade through ecosystems by transforming and simplifying ecological networks, thus contributing to the decline and extinction of vulnerable species.

LanguageEnglish
Pages110-118
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018

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dingoes
Western Australia
deserts
desert
predator
predators
fire history
fire regime
Macropodidae
foxes
endangered species
lizard
image analysis
native species
lizards
niche
niches
indigenous species
extinction
history

Cite this

Bliege Bird, Rebecca ; Bird, Douglas W. ; Fernandez, Luis E. ; Taylor, Nyalanka ; Taylor, Wakka ; Nimmo, Dale. / Aboriginal burning promotes fine-scale pyrodiversity and native predators in Australia's Western Desert. In: Biological Conservation. 2018 ; Vol. 219. pp. 110-118.
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Aboriginal burning promotes fine-scale pyrodiversity and native predators in Australia's Western Desert. / Bliege Bird, Rebecca; Bird, Douglas W.; Fernandez, Luis E.; Taylor, Nyalanka; Taylor, Wakka; Nimmo, Dale.

In: Biological Conservation, Vol. 219, 01.03.2018, p. 110-118.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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