Ecosystem Interactions

Our work aims to understand how fire regimes affect plants, animals and ecosystem function and in-turn how ecological processes such as post-fire vegetation growth interact to influence fire behaviour and risk.

Understanding the relationship between fire and biota is essential for biodiversity conservation

Fire is an important ecological process across many parts of the world, shaping the distribution of biomes and biodiversity. Fire regimes are changing however, and wildfires are occurring in the context of evolutionarily novel conditions for many species in the Anthropocene. Furthermore, fires occur in heterogeneous landscapes and complex feedbacks between fire regimes and vegetation can alter the trajectory of ecological recovery and future fire risk. Understanding relationships between fire regimes and the biota is essential for biodiversity conservation in a changing world.

Partnering with land management agencies allows us to understand how fire impacts plants, animals and ecosystem functions

Our research focuses on understanding how aspects of fire regimes such as intensity, frequency, season and heterogeneity affect plants, animals and ecosystem function. We partner with land management agencies to solve applied problems across a variety of different ecosystems and contexts.

Ecosystem interaction research themes are wide ranging

Our research themes include:

  • How fire regimes influence plant diversity and ecosystem function
  • Interrelationships between fire regimes, habitat structure and animal populations
  • The utility of plant and animal traits for predicting fire responses
  • Feedback between plant species composition, vegetation structure and fire risk
  • The role of fire in driving species distributions
  • Interactions between fire and other factors such as climatic variation, topography, land use change and competition among species
  • Risks from changing fire regimes to vulnerable ecosystems such as obligate seeder forests
  • Management tools for quantifying ecosystem resilience

Projects we are currently working on in this field

Future fire regimes and their impact on mammal populations

Fire drives patterns in mammal biodiversity across the globe.  However, due to climate change fire regimes are shifting and this impacts species and their populations. It is important we gain a better understanding of how species are affected ...

Reducing landscape fire risk with green fire breaks

Currently in Australia the biodiversity crisis and wildfire risks are in direct opposition to one another. Increased wildfire risks under climate change place pressures on sectors and organisations attempting to revegetate the landscape and ...

Fire management approaches to mitigate the impacts of bushfires on ecological values

This project explores the ability of fuel management activities to mitigate bushfire impacts on ecological values. It does this through the integration of the landscape simulation modelling software ‘Fire Regimes and Operations Simulations ...

Effects of fire intensity and aridity on plant resprouting

Plant resprouting is when a plant regrows new shoots, stems and leaves from its existing root system or above-ground biomass after being cut, damaged, or burned. Resprouting is a remarkable survival strategy that allows plants to adapt to ...

Fire regime impacts on understory plant communities in temperate Australia

Fire has been central to the evolution of vegetation in temperate Australia but changing fire regimes are now emerging as a key threat to the persistence of many plant species and vegetation communities. Inappropriate fire regimes ...

Impact of prescribed burning scenarios on age class diversity

Prescribed burning is a common fire management strategy in Australia that is deployed to minimise wildfire risks through the reduction of fuel in fire-prone areas. The scale of prescribed burning has increased over the years to reduce the ...

Unpacking the importance of active fire management in restoring our heathlands

Irregular autumn burns and bushfires unintentionally promote woody-shrub encroachment, intensify fires, and hinder our ability to conduct low-intensity prescribed burning in Victoria. In the context of increasingly flammable climates and ...

The influence of fire severity on faunal persistence

Over half of all terrestrial systems require fire to maintain ecological integrity. In regions where fire is a frequent disturbance, there is ongoing pressure on the community to evolve and adapt to a specific fire regime. However, with the ...

Other Capabilities

Landscape Flammability

Environmental and human factors can strongly influence fire behaviour by changing the vegetation. Understanding the role of these influencing factors and the contribution of vegetation itself to fire behaviour is vital to better estimate landscape flammability.

Future Fire

Predicted hotter and drier climates will modify wildfire intensity, extent, frequency, and seasonality. The Future Fires program will use strategic foresight and cutting-edge models to anticipate and help prepare for the wildfires of the future.

Fire Risk Modelling

Fire risk modelling provides robust calculations of risk at local and landscape scales. This helps to guide decision-making and management for assets including people, property, economic, environmental, cultural and infrastructure.