Sanctuary in the City

Burnt heath (foreground) and woodland (background) after a
large wildfire. The burnt stems in the foreground are Banksia ericifolia.
This usually dominant heath plant can become locally extinct if fire
intervals are too short. (Photo by Claire Foster)

Environmental context is critical for fire management

Guidelines need to look beyond species traits for good outcomes Key messages: Fire-management guidelines are often based on the traits of individual species We studied the association between the recent fire regime and the plant community in three common vegetation types of coastal SE Australia Guidelines considering different vegetation types as separate management units may […]

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We are really bad at predicting management outcomes for entire communities such as the endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodland pictured here. (Photo by Ayesha Tulloch)

Making big predictions using small data

Managing threats to communities of declining species with incomplete information Key messages: By combining models of responses to threats with network analyses of species co-occurrence, we developed an approach to predict how an ecological community restructures under threat management Information from a few species on co-occurrence and expected responses to alternative threat management actions can […]

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Movers and stayers in a changing environment

Richard Hobbs, Leonie Valentine and colleagues believe we should be paying increased attention to species movement in response to environmental change (Hobbs et al, 2017). In particular we need to consider changes in species distributions and altered biological assemblages. Such changes are well known from paleoecological studies, but have accelerated with ongoing pervasive human influence. […]

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A typical scene in the foothill forests of Victoria. In the morning
mist this patch of woodland doesn’t look particularly fire prone but the
blackened trunks, open canopy and epicormics buds (leaves sprouting
from the main tree stem) suggest a major fire has passed through here
recently. Indeed, this image was captured some 15 months after large
wildfires seared parts of central Victoria. The foothill forests cover a
wide range of environmental conditions. How do you manage for fire in
such situations? (Photo by Steve Leonard)

Fire in the foothills

Fire regimes and environmental gradients shape the distribution of forest wildlife KEY MESSAGES: Important insights can be gained by modeling how fire regimes, not just fire events, influence biota in forests Management of fire regimes needs to be complemented by an understanding of the underlying environmental gradients and key elements of habitat structure that influence […]

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Example of fine-scale vegetation fragmentation (individual trees
fragmented by urban development, NSW). (Image http://www.wagga.
nsw.gov.au/city-of-wagga-wagga/recreation/lake-albert)

How often, how far, how risky and how biased?

Movement behaviour mediates the impacts of habitat fragmentation at multiple scales KEY MESSAGES Different scales of fragmentation have lethal consequences for animals with certain movement traits For at-risk species, the impact of fine-scale fragmentation was accentuated when fragmentation also occurred at the coarse scale The land use to target with conservation actions to reduce fragmentation […]

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On target to save more species

Targets such as a species’ minimum viable population size or the optimum proportion of land that should be protected (Decision point #83) are important for translating the complexities of biodiversity conservation into clear, generalizable rules. However, setting the same high-aspirational target across different species and landscapes may not be very efficient. To begin with, it is unlikely that different species will respond in exactly the same way to the same conservation target. This could result in unequal levels of protection, and eventually lead to an overestimation in the amount of conservation actually achieved.

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