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Postcards from the past: charting the landscape-scale conversion of tropical Australian savanna to closed forest during the 20th century

Brook, Barry William and Bowman, David (2006). Postcards from the past: charting the landscape-scale conversion of tropical Australian savanna to closed forest during the 20th century. Landscape Ecology,21(8):1253-1266.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID A00004xPUB93
Title Postcards from the past: charting the landscape-scale conversion of tropical Australian savanna to closed forest during the 20th century
Author Brook, Barry William
Bowman, David
Journal Name Landscape Ecology
Publication Date 2006
Volume Number 21
Issue Number 8
ISSN 0921-2973   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 1253
End Page 1266
Total Pages 14
Place of Publication Netherlands
Publisher Springer Publishing Company
Field of Research 0501 - Ecological Applications
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Repeated sequences of digitised and geo-referenced historical aerial photography provide a powerful means of understanding landscape change. We use this method to demonstrate a landscape wide expansion of closed forest (42% increase in total coverage) in the Australian monsoon tropics over the past five decades. Retrospective habitat suitability models (HSI) of closed forest derived using four landscape measures (drainage distance, slope angle, aspect and elevation) for imagery taken in 1947 correctly forecast the subsequent spatial distribution of the expansion, with topographic fire protection primarily determining the closed-forest distribution. The dynamics of the closed forest-savanna boundary were predicted accurately by generalised linear models, with closed-forest expansion in fire-protected sites along forest edges and regression in the more fire-prone areas. Two factors may plausibly explain the expansion of closed forests. First, eco-ethnographic records stress the skilful use of fire by Aboriginal people in protecting isolated and locally resource-rich closed-forest patches. Second, the recent global increase in atmospheric CO2 may be changing the competitive balance between savanna and forest by enabling C-3 trees to grow fast enough to escape the fire trap presented by flammable C-4 grasses.
Keywords aerial photography
historical ecology
indigenous fire-use
generalised linear modelling
geographic information systems
landscape ecology
vegetation dynamics
monsoon rain-forest
assessing vegetation change
northern australia
habitat fragmentation
logistic-regression
aerial-photography
strong inference
fire regimes
human impact
dynamics
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10980-006-0018-7   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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Created: Fri, 12 Sep 2008, 08:35:25 CST by Administrator