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How hot? How often? Getting the fire frequency and timing right for optimal management of woody cover and pasture composition in northern Australian grazed tropical savannas. Kidman Springs Fire Experiment 1993-2013

Cowley, Robyn A., Hearnden, Mark H., Joyce, Karen E., Tovar-Valencia, Miguel, Cowley, Trisha M., Pettit, Caroline L. and Dyer, Rodd M. (2014). How hot? How often? Getting the fire frequency and timing right for optimal management of woody cover and pasture composition in northern Australian grazed tropical savannas. Kidman Springs Fire Experiment 1993-2013. The Rangeland Journal,36(4):323-345.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 75039815xPUB555
Title How hot? How often? Getting the fire frequency and timing right for optimal management of woody cover and pasture composition in northern Australian grazed tropical savannas. Kidman Springs Fire Experiment 1993-2013
Author Cowley, Robyn A.
Hearnden, Mark H.
Joyce, Karen E.
Tovar-Valencia, Miguel
Cowley, Trisha M.
Pettit, Caroline L.
Dyer, Rodd M.
Journal Name The Rangeland Journal
Publication Date 2014
Volume Number 36
Issue Number 4
ISSN 1036-9872   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84907585137
Start Page 323
End Page 345
Total Pages 23
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher C S I R O Publishing
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract A long-term (1993–2013) experiment in grazed semiarid tropical savannas in northern Australia tested the impact of varying the frequency (every 2, 4 and 6 years) and season (June – EDS versus October – LDS) of fire compared with unburnt controls on woody cover and pasture composition, in grassland and open woodland. Over an 18-year period, woody cover increased by 4% (absolute) in the woodland even with the most severe (i.e. frequent, late dry season) fire treatments. With less severe or no fire, woody cover increased by 12–17%. In the grassland, woody cover remained static when subjected to LDS fires every 2 or 4 years, but increased by 3–6% under other fire treatments, and by 8% when unburnt. Major shifts in understorey species composition occurred at both sites regardless of fire regime. The effect of fire on herbage mass and composition was compounded by higher grazing after fires. The herbage mass of perennial grasses declined and that of annual grasses and forbs increased following early or frequent fires. Brachyachne convergens, Gomphrena canescens and Flemingia pauciflora increased in response to fire while Aristida latifolia and Heteropogon contortus decreased. Four-yearly LDS fire provided the most effective management of woody cover and pasture composition. Although EDS fire is recommended for biodiversity management and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in wet tropical savannas, on grazed pastoral land, it can promote woodland thickening and pasture degradation. Optimal fire management, therefore, depends on vegetation type, land use and the prevailing seasonal timing and frequency of fire.
Keywords Fire management
Fire season
Rangeland management
Time since fire
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ14030   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
Description for Link Link to publisher's version
URL http://www.publish.csiro.au/?paper=RJ14030
 
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