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Collapse rates of hollow-bearing trees following low intensity prescription burns in the Pilliga forests, New South Wales

Parnaby, H., Lunney, D., Silannon, I.A.N. and Fleming, M. (2010) Collapse rates of hollow-bearing trees following low intensity prescription burns in the Pilliga forests, New South Wales. Pacific Conservation Biology, 16 (3). pp. 209-220.

Abstract

Hollows in trees are recognized as a critical and threatened resource for a wide range of fauna in Australian forests and woodlands, yet little data are available on the impact of fire on hollow-bearing trees. We report an opportunistic, post-fire assessment of the proportion of burnt, hollow-bearing trees that collapsed in stands near roads following low intensity prescription burns in three areas of mixed eucalypt forest in the Pilliga forests. Mean collapse rates on 29 plots (40 by 50m), separated by bum Area, ranged from 14-26% for a total of 329 burnt hollow-bearing trees. Collapse rates on individual plots ranged from 0-50%. Collapsed, hollow-bearing trees were predominantly older, with 40% of senescent trees and 44% of live stags collapsing. The best predictor in models of tree collapse was the presence of a basal fire entry point. We cannot determine the extent to which collapse rates on our plots are representative of burnt areas away from containment roads due to sampling limitations, but they appear to be higher than those reported from wildfire and more intense prescription burns in southern Australia. Our results point to an urgent need for comprehensively designed studies to address the impacts of prescribed burns on hollow-bearing trees.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Surey Beatty & Sons
Copyright: (c) Surey Beatty & Sons
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/3567
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