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Adding Fuel to the Fire: The Impacts of Non-Native Grass Invasion on Fire Management at a Regional Scale

Setterfield, Samantha A., Rossiter-Rachor, Natalie, Douglas, Michael M., Wainger, Lisa, Petty, Aaron M., Barrow, Piers, Shepherd, Ian J. and Ferdinands, Keith B. (2013). Adding Fuel to the Fire: The Impacts of Non-Native Grass Invasion on Fire Management at a Regional Scale. PLoS One,8(5):e59144-1-e59144-10.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 82057923xPUB466
Title Adding Fuel to the Fire: The Impacts of Non-Native Grass Invasion on Fire Management at a Regional Scale
Author Setterfield, Samantha A.
Rossiter-Rachor, Natalie
Douglas, Michael M.
Wainger, Lisa
Petty, Aaron M.
Barrow, Piers
Shepherd, Ian J.
Ferdinands, Keith B.
Journal Name PLoS One
Publication Date 2013
Volume Number 8
Issue Number 5
ISSN 1932-6203   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84877740991
Start Page e59144-1
End Page e59144-10
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher Public Library of Science
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Background
Widespread invasion by non-native plants has resulted in substantial change in fire-fuel characteristics and fire-behaviour in many of the world's ecosystems, with a subsequent increase in the risk of fire damage to human life, property and the environment. Models used by fire management agencies to assess fire risk are dependent on accurate assessments of fuel characteristics but there is little evidence that they have been modified to reflect landscape-scale invasions. There is also a paucity of information documenting other changes in fire management activities that have occurred to mitigate changed fire regimes. This represents an important limitation in information for both fire and weed risk management.

Methodology/Principal Findings
We undertook an aerial survey to estimate changes to landscape fuel loads in northern Australia resulting from invasion by Andropogon gayanus (gamba grass). Fuel load within the most densely invaded area had increased from 6 to 10 t ha−1 in the past two decades. Assessment of the effect of calculating the Grassland Fire Danger Index (GFDI) for the 2008 and 2009 fire seasons demonstrated that an increase from 6 to 10 t ha−1 resulted in an increase from five to 38 days with fire risk in the ‘severe’ category in 2008 and from 11 to 67 days in 2009. The season of severe fire weather increased by six weeks. Our assessment of the effect of increased fuel load on fire management practices showed that fire management costs in the region have increased markedly (~9 times) in the past decade due primarily to A. gayanus invasion.

Conclusions/Significance
This study demonstrated the high economic cost of mitigating fire impacts of an invasive grass. This study demonstrates the need to quantify direct and indirect invasion costs to assess the risk of further invasion and to appropriately fund fire and weed management strategies.

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0059144   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
Open access True
Additional Notes This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Description for Link Link to CC Attribution 4.0 License
URL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/au/legalcode


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