Response of Australia’s woodland bird community to fire: A review and meta-analysis

Date: 19, Aug, 2021
Author(s):   Michelle Gibson, Martine Maron, Natasha Robinson, Jessica Walsh

Australian woodland birds have lost an estimated 70% of their historic habitat; and the Australian mega-fires of 2019-2020 burnt 12.6 million hectares of primarily forest and woodland. We screened primary literature, conducted a meta-analysis to synthesize changes in woodland bird species richness and abundance with time since fire, and compared differences in these metrics between burnt and unburnt sites. We found that bird species richness and abundance increased significantly with time since fire. Species response to fire was significantly influenced by fire type. Wildfire had consistently negative effects on bird species richness and abundance, whereas prescribed fire had no effect on species richness and mixed effects on bird abundance. Our synthesis revealed clear patterns of post-fire response for forest and woodland bird richness and abundance and underscores the need to incorporate long post-fire recovery periods into fire mosaic planning.