Survival and Recolonisation of Australian Mistletoes after High Severity Fire: Implications for the Warrumbungle National Park
Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours)
School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences
Kirk, Cameron William, Survival and Recolonisation of Australian Mistletoes after High Severity Fire: Implications for the Warrumbungle National Park, Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours), School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, 2022.
Fire events in south-eastern Australia are increasing in frequency and severity resulting from climate change. The existing fire adaptation research for Australian flora has focussed on fire adapted lineages. However, it important to understand the dynamics of fire vulnerable species and the mechanisms by which they persist fire prone environments. Mistletoes are an example of a fire vulnerable species that lacks the ability to resprout or reseed, relying on recolonisation following fire. This thesis furthers fire ecology by establishing a relationship between fire severity and the survival of mistletoes through the 2013 Wambelong fire in the Warrumbungle National Park. It was expected that high severity fire would eliminate mistletoe populations. This thesis also sought to identify the effect of mistletoe height, size, host fire health, host species, and ecological community mistletoe survival. It assessed this relationship through 81 transects across a diverse array of fire severities. The thesis identified a baseline survival rate of 69.4% for unburnt regions. High severity exhibited a corrected survival of 0.351%, showing a dramatic decline in mistletoe survival. Mistletoe size, host fire health, host species and host community all exhibited significant effects on mistletoe survival. Contrary to assumptions, mistletoe height did not exhibit an effect on mistletoe survival. The thesis showed that high severity fire played an important role in determining mistletoe distribution. The findings suggest that mistletoes use edge recruitment to recolonise after high severity fire and may require a multi-decadal fire free period or risk to recover at a landscape level.
FoR codes (2020)
410205 Fire 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.