Aboriginal burning promotes fine-scale pyrodiversity and native predators in Australia's Western Desert

  • Published source details Bird R.B., Bird D.W., Fernandez L.E., Taylor N., Taylor W. & Nimmo D. (2018) Aboriginal burning promotes fine-scale pyrodiversity and native predators in Australia's Western Desert. Biological Conservation, 219, 110-118.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed burning: Grassland & shrubland

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Use prescribed burning: Grassland & shrubland

    A replicated, randomized, site comparison study in 2014–2016 in shrub and grass sandplain in Western Australia, Australia (Bird et al. 2018) found that small-scale patch burning was associated with increased sand goanna Varanus gouldii burrow abundance. Following several decades of annual small-scale burns, more sand goanna burrows were found in areas with a diverse burn history (results reported as statistical model outputs). Sand goanna burrows were particularly associated with no or early spinifex regrowth and mature, ready-to-be-burned spinifex habitats. The authors noted that sand goanna burrows found in plots with no or initial regrowth were likely to have been selected by over-wintering goannas prior to burning when the habitat was mature spinifex. Martu Aboriginal communities returned to the study area in 1984 and reinstated traditional winter patch burning since then. In July 2014–July 2016, seventy-six randomly-selected 1 ha plots (>1 km apart) in spinifex-dominated Troidia spp. desert were surveyed for sand goanna burrows. Plots were classified as: no regrowth present, early shoots present, mature plants with high plant diversity, mature spinifex able to carry a fire and deteriorating spinifex.

    (Summarised by: Katie Sainsbury)

Output references
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