Indicator: Fire (tables)

Back to a discussion of fire and its impact for the 2003 State of the Environment Report

Table 1


Table 1: Fauna survey results following January 2003 bushfires in the ACT
Species/species groups Survey report
Threatened species and species of conservation concern Northern Corroboree Frog Pseudophryne pengilleyi Habitat severely affected. Eggs collected from some of 22 nests found for captive husbandry program.
Smoky Mouse Pseudomys fumeus Habitat experienced high or very high severity burn. Survey focused on effects on habitat.
Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata Presumed extinct in ACT. Not surveyed.
Spotted-tailed Quoll Dasyuris maculatus Known habitat experienced high or very high severity burn. Quoll scats collected.
Broad-toothed Rat Mastacomys fuscus Majority of habitat experienced moderate to high severity burn. Evidence of species in unburnt areas.
Monotremes Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus and Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus No sightings. Platypus at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve died following the fire.
Arboreal mammals Possums, gliders and koala Spotlight sightings of Greater Glider Petaurus volan , Sugar Glider Petaurus breviceps , Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis. No sightings of Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis , Feathertail Glider Acrobates pygmaeus , Eastern Pygmy Possum Cercartetus nanus . Spotlight sightings of Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula , Mountain Brushtail Possum Trichosurus caninus , Common Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus . No sightings of Koala Phascolarctos cinereus .
Large mammals Kangaroos, wallabies, Wallaroo and Wombat. Widespread sightings, sightings in habitat areas or evidence of presence.
Small mammals Bush Rat and Antechinus Present. Caught in traps.
Bats Flying-foxes and insectivorous bats No sightings of Flying-foxes. Insectivorous bats caught in Harp Traps.
Reptiles and frogs Frogs Probably suffered high mortality in fires. Common Eastern froglet Crinia signifera and Southern Toadlet Pseudophryne dendyi recorded .
Reptiles Removal of ground cover over much of Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve will reduce habitat availability. Initial abundance of skinks postfire but numbers later declined (probably due to lack of food and susceptibility to predation).

Table 2


Table 2: Responses of the vegetation in ecological communities to the January 2003 bushfires in the ACT
Ecological community Survey report
Alpine Ash Eucalyptus delegatensis forest and other tall wet forest (eight survey sites) Brindabella Range (800–1300m). Alpine Ash regenerates from seed. Trees dead in some areas, epicormic shoots in others. Post-1983 fire regeneration in southern Namadgi National Park had set seed so trees should regrow. Other tall wet forest species show varying responses (lignotuber /epicormic shoots and seedlings).
Apple Box–Broadleaf Peppermint E. bridgesianaE. dives Woodland (one survey site) Dry slopes below 1400m. Tree regeneration through epicormic and lignotuberous growth. Ground cover regrowth from seed and rootstock.
Black Cypress Pine Callitris endlicheri Woodland (two survey sites) Lower elevation dry rocky hillsides, river gorges. Trees have shown no response and mostly appear dead. Regeneration of ground cover, mid-storey shrubs and other tree species. Seedlings of Black Cypress Pine are expected to appear from spring 2003 to autumn 2004.
Black Sallee E. stellulata Woodland (two survey sites) Mountain valleys and poorly drained flats (800–1700m). In Cotter Catchment species had been subject to extensive defoliation by stick insects (Spurlegged Phasmatid Didymuria violescens). These insects survived the fires. Trees showing basal and epicormic shoots.
Carex Carex gaudichaudia Fen (one survey site) Sheep Station Creek (not burnt), Upper Naas (some burnt), Nursery Swamp (burnt). Fens at Nursery Swamp and Upper Naas are recovering. Nursery Swamp was burnt in 1983 and recovered.
Dry Rocky Heath (commonly dominated by Burgan Kunzea ericoides (one survey site) Small patches on ridge tops, Brindabella Range Four months after fire little evidence of regeneration. Given fire-proneness of the community, recovery is expected but may take some years.
Grass Tree Xanthorrhoea australis Woodland/ Forest (two survey sites) Small number of sites with poor, rocky soils, for example, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Severely burnt. Grass trees have regenerated with new leaves on stumps. Expected to flower in spring 2003. Epicormic and basal regeneration of trees at sites as well as shrub and ground cover regrowth but still much bare ground.
Snow Gum E. pauciflora Woodlands (several sub-species related to altitude) (five survey sites) Occur over wide altitudinal range (580m to above 1900m) Community has well-documented history of fire and recovery. In high severity areas recovery is mostly lignotubers. In moderate to low severity areas recovery is mostly lignotubers with epicormic shoots as secondary mechanism. Regeneration of understorey species. Older trees not likely to regenerate.
Wet Fern Gully (in wet sclerophyll forest) (one survey site) Brindabella and Tidbinbilla Ranges. Ribbon Gum regenerating through epicormic shoots. Shrubs and mid-storey plants regenerating from rootstock. Tree ferns sprouting from crowns protected from fire by thick bases of fronds. Ground level seedling growth Given high level of response, similar community to previous is likely in relatively short period of time.
Yellow Box–Red Gum E. melliodoraE. blakelyi Grassy Woodland (one survey site) Lower elevations, gently undulating terrain (600–900m). Fires burnt most of woodland west of the urban area (Uriarra, Murrumbidgee, Naas, Paddy’s River, Rob Roy areas). Only Castle Hill mostly unburnt. Trees showing lignotuber growth and some epicormic shoots. Understorey regeneration and more expected in spring 2003. Expected that woodland will recover and there will be extensive regeneration. Effect on woodland fauna less clear.

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