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Frequency and season of fires varies with distance from settlement and grass composition in Eucalyptus miniata savannas of the Darwin region of northern Australia

Citation

Elliot, LP and Franklin, DC and Bowman, DMJS, Frequency and season of fires varies with distance from settlement and grass composition in Eucalyptus miniata savannas of the Darwin region of northern Australia, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 18, (1) pp. 61-70. ISSN 1049-8001 (2009) [Refereed Article]


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CSIRO 2009

DOI: doi:10.1071/WF06158

Abstract

In savanna environments, fire and grass are inextricably linked by feedback loops. In the Darwin area of northern Australia, flammable tall annual grasses of the genus Sarga (previously Sorghum1) have been implicated in a savanna fire-cycle.We examined the relationship between fire history, the grass layer and distance from settlement using LANDSAT images and plot-based surveys. Areas more than 500m from settlement were burnt almost twice as often, the additional fires being concentrated late in the dry season and in areas dominated by annual Sarga and even more so where dominated by short annual grasses. Grass cover was a stronger correlate of fire frequency than grass biomass, the two showing a non-linear relationship. Sites dominated by short annual grasses had similar cover to, but markedly lower biomass than those dominated by annual Sarga or perennial grasses. Our results reflect the success of fire suppression in the vicinity of settlements, but little effective management of late dry-season wildfires in remoter areas. We evaluate several hypotheses for the association of frequent fire with annual grasses regardless of their growth form and conclude that fuel connectivity and possibly other fuel characteristics are key issues worthy of further investigation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:annual grasses, annual Sarga, fire cycle, fire regime, fuel loads, grass biomass, NorthernTerritory, perennial grasses, tropical savanna.
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological Applications
Research Field:Landscape Ecology
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Ecosystem Assessment and Management
Objective Field:Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales
Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:61804
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2010-03-05
Last Modified:2014-12-17
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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