Fire

Control burns are a tool that ecologists can use to revive senescent vegetation communities (systems that are dying of old age). Many native species rely on fire-cues in order to germinate (such as heat cracking open the fruit of a Banksia), without fire these natives simply cannot germinate in sustainable quantities. Likewise, older systems often become overrun by dominant species that niche in the later stages of succession (i.e. larger plants out-competing other species and taking all of the available resources). Fire can be used to enhance species diversity (the number of species) in these systems by not only allowing native species to germinate, but also by reducing competition, thus giving threatened species a chance to establish. Most of the pictures below are from control burns conducted at Yundi, in the Fleurieu Peninsula. Experiments and past research tells us that fire will stop the over abundant Coral Fern (Gleichenia microphylla) from smothering all other species, and that fire-related cues will enhance germination of threatened flora including the critically endangered Yundi Guinea-flower (Hibbertia tenuis). Preliminary results look promising as hundreds of threatened plants, including the Yundi Guinea-flower, have now germinated as a result of these fires.