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Fire management for biodiversity conservation: Key research questions and our capacity to answer them

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Knowing how species respond to fire regimes is essential for ecologically sustainable management. This

    axiom raises two important questions: (1) what knowledge is the most important to develop and (2) to

    what extent can current research methods deliver that knowledge? We identify three areas of required

    knowledge: (i) a mechanistic understanding of species’ responses to fire regimes; (ii) knowledge of how

    the spatial and temporal arrangement of fires influences the biota; and (iii) an understanding of interactions

    of fire regimes with other processes. We review the capacity of empirical research to address these

    knowledge gaps, and reveal many limitations. Manipulative experiments are limited by the number and

    scope of treatments that can be applied, natural experiments are limited by treatment availability and

    confounding factors, and longitudinal studies are difficult to maintain, particularly due to unplanned disturbance

    events. Simulation modelling is limited by the quality of the underlying empirical data and by

    uncertainty in how well model structure represents reality. Due to the constraints on large-scale, longterm

    research, the potential for management experiments to inform adaptive management is limited.

    Rather than simply recommending adaptive management, we define a research agenda to maximise

    the rate of learning in this difficult field. This includes measuring responses at a species level, building

    capacity to implement natural experiments, undertaking simulation modelling, and judicious application

    of experimental approaches. Developing ecologically sustainable fire management practices will require

    sustained research effort and a sophisticated research agenda based on carefully targeting appropriate

    methods to address critical management questions.

Authors


  •   Driscoll, Don A. (external author)
  •   Lindenmayer, David B. (external author)
  •   Bennett, Andrew F. (external author)
  •   Bode, Michael (external author)
  •   Bradstock, Ross A.
  •   Cary, Geoff J. (external author)
  •   Clarke, Michael (external author)
  •   Dexter, Nick (external author)
  •   Fensham, Rod (external author)
  •   Friend, Gordon (external author)
  •   Gill, Malcolm (external author)
  •   James, Stewart (external author)
  •   Kay, Geoff (external author)
  •   Keith, David A. (external author)
  •   MacGregor, Christopher (external author)
  •   Russell-Smith, Jeremy (external author)
  •   Salt, David (external author)
  •   Watson, James (external author)
  •   Williams, Richard J. (external author)
  •   York, Alan (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2010

Citation


  • Driscoll, D., Lindenmayer, D. B., Bennett, A. F., Bode, M., Bradstock, R. A., Cary, G., Clarke, M., Dexter, N., Fensham, R., Friend, G., Gill, M., James, S., Kay, G., Keith, D., MacGregor, C., Russell-Smith, J., Salt, D., Watson, J., Williams, R. J.. & York, A. (2010). Fire management for biodiversity conservation: Key research questions and our capacity to answer them. Biological Conservation, 143 (9), 1928-1939.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-77955097169

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/scipapers/5191

Has Global Citation Frequency


Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 1928

End Page


  • 1939

Volume


  • 143

Issue


  • 9

Abstract


  • Knowing how species respond to fire regimes is essential for ecologically sustainable management. This

    axiom raises two important questions: (1) what knowledge is the most important to develop and (2) to

    what extent can current research methods deliver that knowledge? We identify three areas of required

    knowledge: (i) a mechanistic understanding of species’ responses to fire regimes; (ii) knowledge of how

    the spatial and temporal arrangement of fires influences the biota; and (iii) an understanding of interactions

    of fire regimes with other processes. We review the capacity of empirical research to address these

    knowledge gaps, and reveal many limitations. Manipulative experiments are limited by the number and

    scope of treatments that can be applied, natural experiments are limited by treatment availability and

    confounding factors, and longitudinal studies are difficult to maintain, particularly due to unplanned disturbance

    events. Simulation modelling is limited by the quality of the underlying empirical data and by

    uncertainty in how well model structure represents reality. Due to the constraints on large-scale, longterm

    research, the potential for management experiments to inform adaptive management is limited.

    Rather than simply recommending adaptive management, we define a research agenda to maximise

    the rate of learning in this difficult field. This includes measuring responses at a species level, building

    capacity to implement natural experiments, undertaking simulation modelling, and judicious application

    of experimental approaches. Developing ecologically sustainable fire management practices will require

    sustained research effort and a sophisticated research agenda based on carefully targeting appropriate

    methods to address critical management questions.

Authors


  •   Driscoll, Don A. (external author)
  •   Lindenmayer, David B. (external author)
  •   Bennett, Andrew F. (external author)
  •   Bode, Michael (external author)
  •   Bradstock, Ross A.
  •   Cary, Geoff J. (external author)
  •   Clarke, Michael (external author)
  •   Dexter, Nick (external author)
  •   Fensham, Rod (external author)
  •   Friend, Gordon (external author)
  •   Gill, Malcolm (external author)
  •   James, Stewart (external author)
  •   Kay, Geoff (external author)
  •   Keith, David A. (external author)
  •   MacGregor, Christopher (external author)
  •   Russell-Smith, Jeremy (external author)
  •   Salt, David (external author)
  •   Watson, James (external author)
  •   Williams, Richard J. (external author)
  •   York, Alan (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2010

Citation


  • Driscoll, D., Lindenmayer, D. B., Bennett, A. F., Bode, M., Bradstock, R. A., Cary, G., Clarke, M., Dexter, N., Fensham, R., Friend, G., Gill, M., James, S., Kay, G., Keith, D., MacGregor, C., Russell-Smith, J., Salt, D., Watson, J., Williams, R. J.. & York, A. (2010). Fire management for biodiversity conservation: Key research questions and our capacity to answer them. Biological Conservation, 143 (9), 1928-1939.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-77955097169

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/scipapers/5191

Has Global Citation Frequency


Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 1928

End Page


  • 1939

Volume


  • 143

Issue


  • 9