Human and natural disturbances in Australia
Speaker: Simon Watson (La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)
First, I will discuss the effects of the spatial and temporal properties of fire (fire mosaics) on biodiversity in a large ‘natural’ ecosystem. Our work shows that fires have effects on biotic communities that can last for centuries. In addition, our results challenge the notion that spatial heterogeneity of habitats (e.g. post-fire environments) drives diversity of faunal communities. Second, I describe our work in agricultural land, which shows how the spatial context of natural land-covers and the shifting nature of human land-covers (e.g. changes in crop-types) can affect the occurrence of a key endangered species. From this we propose a framework for considering how land-use changes can affect ecosystems, specifically recognising that the regime of recurrent land-cover changes (frequency, sequence, time-span and magnitude of changes) will influence ecological communities over and above individual one-time changes.