Impacts of fire on Semi-Arid Shrubland Birds

  • Floyd from ECU giving a presentation at the 2014 Charles Darwin Reserve Open Day in the Gunduwa Tent

    Floyd from ECU presenting at the 2014 Charles Darwin Reserve Open Day in the Gunduwa Tent

Project Description


The study seeks to understand the role of fire on bird communities and how fire should be managed across the landscape. Specifically:

  1. Do shrublands of different fire ages support different bird communities?
  2. Does bird species richness increase with time since fire?
  3. Do longer unburnt habitats contain more bird species that nest in and/or inhabit the ground or understorey vegetation, than more recently burnt habitats?
  4. How can fire be managed across the landscape to conserve and promote biodiversity within the region?


A combination of bird surveys with vegetation assessments will be conducted to answer the objectives of this project.


Comprehensive bird surveys conducted at Charles Darwin Reserve, recording 845 birds from 40 species. It was found that bird communities differed as a result of fire ages with long unburnt sites being the only major habitat for species like the Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Rufous Whistler and Southern Scrub-robin. These sites also had more species than the recently burnt areas. In conclusion landscape-scale fires may have negative effects by removing the vegetation which may take over 40 years to recover the desired characteristics.

Project Details

  • OrganisationEdith Cowan University (ECU)
  • Year2014
  • Funding$20,000