Levin, N; Legge, S; Price, B; Bowen, M; Litvack, E; Maron, M; McAlpine, C (2012). MODIS time series as a tool for monitoring fires and their effects on savanna bird diversity. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF WILDLAND FIRE, 21(6), 680-694.
In this study, we aimed to explore the effect of fires on bird diversity in Australia's tropical savannas. Bird surveys were conducted at 69 sites between 2005 and 2007 to estimate bird species richness and abundance within the Mornington Sanctuary, the Kimberley, north-west Australia. We used MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer) and Landsat satellite imagery to map fire scars and to quantify vegetation cover parameters, and QuickBird imagery to map the percentage tree cover. Bird species richness and abundance were higher in areas exhibiting minimum seasonal and interannual changes, e. g. in riparian areas, near water and where tree cover was high. We found a significant negative effect of fire on bird diversity following the extensive late dry-season fires of 2006. These findings support the view that intense and large fires are threatening biodiversity and reinforce the importance of reducing the occurrence of late dry-season fires, which are the most severe and extensive. MODIS satellite imagery was found to provide a cost-effective approach to monitoring savanna landscapes, assessing the state of vegetation and monitoring fire dynamics.