The 2015 Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award has been awarded to a team of researchers from Deakin University’s CIE who have been investigating, since 2008, the effects of fire and climatic changes on native mammals in the Grampians National Park.
Team Members: John White, Raylene Cook, Dale Nimmo, Mike Stevens, Natasha Deboni, Matt Vinicombe, Trent Forge, Rachel Woods, Michael Castle, Susannah Hale, Kristen Campbell, Lorrisa Mendoza, Kate Senior, Thomas Yeatman
About the project: For the first time, the Grampians has been shown to be a rainfall driven ‘boom-bust’ system for native mammals. The research has shown the relative importance of factors such as annual rainfall as a major influence for these species to survive after drought, flood and fire. This is directly helping to guide when and where fire and pest predator management programs are run within the park to help protect the native mammals.
Small mammal refuges have been identified using the monitoring data and long-term satellite imagery. These include wet gullies and areas that maintain moisture even in dry seasons which the research has found are important for maintaining healthy mammal populations in the Grampians.
Evidence from the study indicates that small mammals recolonise from within fire affected areas. It was previously not understood how mammals re-colonise intensely bushfire affected landscapes, and whether this happens from adjoining non-affected sites or whether they survive within the burnt areas. It has been shown that different habitat elements are important for different mammal species to survive post fire, including the presence of rock-outcrops, large trees or small unburnt areas for refuge.
On August 27th 2015, Wild Melbourne released a post abut the research on their website, including a video on the research as part of their Science Shorts SciComm series about environmental research in Victoria. Read all about it on Wild Melbourne website.
You can also read more about the Nancy Millis award on Parks Victoria website.
The project even has its own Twitter feed (@) so feel free to follow and join the conversation!