A project undertaken at University of Canberra, and supervised by Ben Kefford
Fires are an important disturbance in Australian and other landscapes that potentially impact stream organisms and ecosystems via multiple mechanisms. Then following fires, populations of stream organisms can recover also via multiple mechanisms e.g. the local reproduction of surviving individuals, drifting downstream from upstream (refuges) and insects dispersing aerially from nearby (unburnt) catchments.
The potential for organisms to exploit these recovery mechanisms varies widely depending on the taxa involved and the nature of the sites locally and within the landscape. Previous studies of the effects of fires on stream organisms have reported highly variable outcomes in terms of impacts and recovery of stream organisms. We suggest that this variability is due to a lack of accounting for the multiple mechanisms by which fires affect stream organisms and their recovery. This project tests the relative importance of mechanisms by which fires impact stream macroinvertebrates and their recovery.