French Island McLeod West (block 3): Ecological burn

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report (public)


    An ecological burn within French Island National Park was conducted on 3 April 2021. The area burnt was approximately 267.4 Ha on the eastern boundary of McLeod West (Block 3). The two objectives of the burn were:
    1. Primary Land Management Objective: to promote ecological resilience in the heathland (sands) by manipulating the growth stage distribution.
    2. Secondary Land Management Objective: to modify the vegetation abundance across the burn area to assist the control of Pinus pinaster.
    A monitoring effort was undertaken to investigate the response of wildlife to the burn. We monitored shortterm changes and presence of species utilising the burn scar for approximately 7 weeks post-burn using camera traps, acoustic monitors, and cage trapping (feral cats).
    Results from the camera traps suggest that the periphery of the burn scar had a higher species richness in comparison to the drain area (interior camera traps). This activity declined over the period suggesting a higher abundance of food in the burn scar closer to the time of fire. Acoustic activity (recorded at five sites
    within the burn scar) was also higher on the periphery than in the centre of the
    burn scar. Acoustic activity on the periphery demonstrated more diversity reflective of the unburnt habitat within the recording limit of the acoustic monitors. Acoustic activity declined over time at all five sites. This decline could indicate several factors including the shortening of daylight hours due to seasonal change, temperature driven changes in life cycle vocalisation behaviour and a decline in food availability after the burn.
    We recommend further monitoring to the burn scar over the coming 5 years with at least yearly assessments of mammals, birds, and reptile diversity using the same monitoring tools. The collection of 7 weeks of data does not provide a scale of significant duration to make assumptions relevant to species 4
    responses to fire over the long-term. However, it does provide a baseline for future monitoring. In future work, the generation of long-duration false-colour spectrograms and summary statistical analysis using specific acoustic indices could further quantify changes in the burn scar.
    Management of invasive predators is expected to become a lesser issue as the feral cat eradication project proceeds. However, impacts of other invasive species such as Sambar, feral goats and rabbits will influence recovery of vegetation communities following fire management operations. Collection of fine scale feral cat activity data was not possible in this study, however, analysis of an older dataset suggested no observable response from feral cats in response to a fire event.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationNew South Wales
    Commissioning bodyDepartment of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria
    Number of pages33
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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