Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences


Fire regimes are complex, with multiple components, drivers, and interactions, yet many studies of fire focus on the behaviour or impact of a single fire event or one component of the fire regime, usually fire frequency. Fire severity has recently been gaining traction as an important component of the fire regime to study. Fire severity is the impact of a fire on the landscape, specifically the physical consumption and scorching of vegetation. This results in structural changes to the vegetation as differential recovery mechanisms occur. Fire behaviour is also affected by the structure of the vegetation, or fuel, that is being burned, so it is likely that the severity of a fire is affected by the characteristics of the fire preceding it. There have been studies done examining this concept in North America, but little has been done in Australia, so in this thesis I ask the question: How do the eucalypt forests of southeast Australia respond to different levels of fire severity, and how does the subsequent fuel structure affect the severity of the next fire? To answer this question, the key aims of this thesis were to: 1) investigate the potential for a positive fire severity feedback continuing through a sequence of three overlapping fires (Chapter 2), 2) determine the effect of fire severity and prior fire history on the structure of resprouting eucalypt forests (Chapter 3), 3) investigate the structural differences in dry sclerophyll forests at three different times since the last fire (Chapter 4), and 4) determine how the severity of the 2019-20 fires in NSW was affected by the severity and type of past fires (Chapter 5).

FoR codes (2008)

060208 Terrestrial Ecology



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.