My toes knows it’s cold outside. Me nose knows too. And me ear. Our thin nylon tent holds little warmth.
Last night the mercury fell to –2°C in the mallee. Cold on the extremities, but not cold in the extreme. Cold in the extreme? Last seen, winter ’82.
Every winter, the small town of Ouyen – a grain silo, roadhouse, general store and little more – gets about 18 frosts. Most years, the coldest night is a chilly –1°C. Thirty two years ago, the mercury plummeted.
When you gaze to the heavens, do you see a flying fish, a winged horse, a sea monster, water carrier, or perhaps a heavenly air pump? Or, like me, do you see a beautiful scatter of unconnected, blinking lights?
Now lower your gaze and join the dots between your favourite ecology blogs. How many tiny constellations do you see? Would anybody else draw a star chart quite like yours? Continue reading
I didn’t intend to write this blog. I started to write another post on patch mosaic burning. But I got stumped by a simple question. I realized that the blog I intended to write would founder if everyone answered that question differently. So this week’s blog contains a quiz, a poll, to see how everybody interprets my puzzling question.
We all know the phrase ‘patch mosaic burning promotes diversity’. It’s a simple phrase but it leaves a lot unsaid. The comparison is hidden. If patch mosaic burning promotes diversity, then it must create more diversity than some other kind of fire regime.
My puzzling question is – what comparison do you have in mind when you say ‘patch mosaic burning promotes diversity’? What is it that you compare patch mosaic burning against?
Like patch mosaic burning? I bet you know someone who does. The concept – like corridors and connectivity – is popular with land managers and the public, and often adopted with ‘mucho gusto’.
The theory that underpins patch mosaic burning is simple. Continue reading
Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed writing blogs about exciting research by many ecologists and conservation biologists. It’s a wonderful opportunity to spread the word to a large and enthusiastic audience.
I’m keen to promote more work by early career researchers in the future. Recent blogs on fire in the mallee and estimating the cover of plants, for example, were based on fantastic papers by PhD students. Both posts were very popular with readers.
So this is a call to all the early career researchers who read this blog. If you’d like your work featured, please send me an email.
The Southern Legless Lizard, Delma australis. Original photo from the Mallee Fire & Biodiversity Team.
Southern Legless Lizards are stylish critters. Big round eyes, happy smile; who couldn’t love ‘em. What they lack in limbs, Delma make up for in energy, excitability, and a dash of fussiness. Southern legless lizards don’t live just anywhere. They like their mallee habitat to be just right.
Fire shapes the spinifex mallee of south-eastern Australia. Fire, and the time between fires; the period when plants grow, die, drop limbs and decompose. As the mallee grows older, legless lizards – like many animals – become more, or less, common. Some species thrive shortly after a burn, others prosper in old, unburnt stands. Continue reading
Coppicing Mallee trees and Spinifex grass in Mungo National Park. Original photo: Visit Mungo.
Trees grow short in the mallee. Little rain and poor soils stunt their growth. Over thousands of square kilometers, in semi-arid Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, many mallee eucalypts reach just 6 to 7 meters high. The short trees burn well, especially when growing above Spinifex Continue reading