International Journal of Wildland Fire
School of Science
WA Department of Environment and Conservation (now Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Atttractions) Department of Water
Prescribed fire is a widespread management practice in fire-prone ecosystems that can have significant effects on fauna. To inform the development of appropriate prescribed burning regimes, we explored bird responses to time since fire in threatened Banksia woodlands in south-western Australia. We used area searches to estimate bird densities on 20 plots ranging from 1 to 26 years post fire. Fire had no significant effect on the overall bird community or any foraging guilds and there was no clear post-fire succession. Of the 26 frequently occurring species analysed, only two showed responses to fire, with yellow-rumped thornbills more abundant in early and late post-fire sites and scarlet robins more abundant in either early, or early and late post-fire habitats. Our study suggested that bird communities in Banksia woodlands are quite adaptable to a range of prescribed burning regimes. However, owing to late-successional reptiles, Carnaby's black cockatoo and mammals in Banksia woodlands, we recommend prescribed burning regimes that reduce early and increase late successional habitat. Phytophthora dieback, urbanisation and associated habitat fragmentation and a drying climate may have important synergistic effects and the role of these in structuring bird communities needs to be further considered in developing appropriate fire regimes.