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Frequency and season of fires varies with distance from settlement and grass composition in Eucalyptus miniata savannas of the Darwin region of northern Australia

Elliott, Louis, Franklin, Donald C. and Bowman, David (2009). Frequency and season of fires varies with distance from settlement and grass composition in Eucalyptus miniata savannas of the Darwin region of northern Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire,18(1):61-70.

Document type: Journal Article

IRMA ID 73283902xPUB48
Title Frequency and season of fires varies with distance from settlement and grass composition in Eucalyptus miniata savannas of the Darwin region of northern Australia
Author Elliott, Louis
Franklin, Donald C.
Bowman, David
Journal Name International Journal of Wildland Fire
Publication Date 2009
Volume Number 18
Issue Number 1
ISSN 1448-5516   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-60849134605
Start Page 61
End Page 70
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract In savanna environments, fire and grass are inextricably linked by feedback loops. In the Darwin area of northern Australia, flammable tall annual grasses of the genus Sarga (previously Sorghum) have been implicated in a savanna fire-cycle. We examined the relationship between fire history, the grass layer and distance from settlement using LANDSAT images and plot-based surveys. Areas more than 500m from settlement were burnt almost twice as often, the additional fires being concentrated late in the dry season and in areas dominated by annual Sarga and even more so where dominated by short annual grasses. Grass cover was a stronger correlate of fire frequency than grass biomass, the two showing a non-linear relationship. Sites dominated by short annual grasses had similar cover to, but markedly lower biomass than those dominated by annual Sarga or perennial grasses. Our results reflect the success of fire suppression in the vicinity of settlements, but little effective management of late dry-season wildfires in remoter areas. We evaluate several hypotheses for the association of frequent fire with annual grasses regardless of their growth form and conclude that fuel connectivity and possibly other fuel characteristics are key issues worthy of further investigation.
Keywords annual grasses
annual Sarga
fire cycle
fire regime
fuel loads
grass biomass
Northern Territory
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF06158   (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: Thu, 04 Mar 2010, 17:44:07 CST