Date Thesis Awarded

4-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Biology

Advisor

John Swaddle

Committee Member

Matthia Leu

Committee Member

Brent Kaup

Abstract

Fire, a pervasive influence on many landscapes worldwide, can have a range of impacts on flora and fauna. We studied the impact of fire in Northern Territory Australia with a focus on the red-backed fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus, hereafter RBFW). While previous studies have demonstrated that RBFWs are negatively impacted by fire, the exact mechanisms are generally unknown. We examined the relationships between fire, social connectivity, and home range utilization, factors which appear to be highly connected in the lives of RBFWs. We utilize a combination of visual tracking and radio telemetry data collected during the dry seasons of 2013 and 2014 to examine these relationships. Analyses conducted using home range maps constructed in ArcGIS revealed that fire alters habitat utilization primarily through changes to vegetative structure. While these changes appear to be short term, fire has the potential to alter RBFW distributions over time by shifting the habitat from a heterogeneous patchwork currently utilized by RBFWs to a system dominated by invasive gamba grass (Andropogen gyanus). In addition, fires alter the social structure of RBFWs through direct displacement after fires. These findings provide additional information on the impacts of fire on specific species, deepening our understanding of the impacts of fire in Northern Australian. Because fires are likely to become more prevalent in the coming future as a result of climate change, understanding species dynamics with fire will become increasingly important.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Included in

Ornithology Commons

Share

COinS