PhD Exit Seminar: The post-fire benefits of coarse woody debris for small mammals and reptiles

Global fire patterns are shifting as the climate warms, resulting in more frequent and extensive fires in some parts of the world. A recent example of this in Australia was the Black Summer fires in 2019-2020 which burnt 19 million hectares. In addition to causing immediate wildlife deaths, fire can remove ground-level vegetation and shelter resources. In landscapes with introduced predators, such as foxes and feral cats, these conditions interact with increased predation to create challenging conditions for native wildlife. 

Heather’s PhD reviews the options we currently have for mitigating these threats and uses field-based experiments to test a novel solution. Specifically, she focuses on how small mammals and reptiles in fire-affected areas respond to the addition of coarse woody debris piles. With her work, Heather aims to support bushfire recovery efforts and increase the options available to land managers after future fires. 


About the Speaker

Heather is completing her PhD at the Fenner School of Environment and Society. She has spent three years working in Namadgi National Park (Ngunnawal Country), focusing on areas burnt by the Orroral Valley Fire in early 2020. Her work examines a range of management interventions aimed at small mammal and reptile conservation in post-fire landscapes. 

Heather has a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies specialising in biodiversity conservation from the Australian National University. She also received first-class honours for her work on the impacts and distribution of feral deer in the South Coast of New South Wales. As an ecologist, Heather is interested in the intersection between managing introduced species and protecting native flora and fauna.

Updated:  27 November 2023/Responsible Officer:  Director, Fenner School/Page Contact:  Webmaster, Fenner School