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Fire ecology in transitional shrublands

CEM researcher Dr Eddie van Etten has nurtured a long-running relationship with Bush Heritage Australia at their Charles Darwin Reserve, 400 km north-east of Perth in the northern wheatbelt. The reserve sits at the interface of the mesic south-west and the arid interior of WA and contains large areas of intact semi-arid shrublands and eucalypt woodlands. The focus of this project is in shrubland fire dynamics in this area, and the impact of shrubland fire history on fauna communities. Investigations to date have considered this impact on small mammal and reptile communities with preliminary results providing insight into fauna adaptation to fire regimes. However, research has recently expanded to the bird community, funded by the Gunduwa Regional Conservation Association. Shrubland birds have been poorly studied compared to their woodland species, likely due to the nature of the harsh shrublands in Australia and the subsequent challenges in undertaking field research.

Key publications to date:

  1. Doherty, T.S., Davis, R.A.van Etten, E.J.B., Collier, N. and Krawiec, J. (2015) Response of a shrubland mammal and reptile community to a history of landscape-scale wildfire. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 23:534-543.
  2. Doherty, T.S., Davis, R.A. and van Etten, E.J.B. (2015). A game of cat-and-mouse: microhabitat influences rodent foraging in recently burnt, but not long unburnt shrublands. Journal of Mammalogy, 96:324-331.

Funding agency

Gundawa Regional Conservation Association

Project duration



Dr Eddie van Etten
Dr Rob Davis
Mr Tim Doherty (PhD Candidate)

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