Do tropical savanna skink assemblages show a short-term response to low-intensity fire? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The composition of skink assemblages at a tropical savanna site in northern Australia was documented immediately before and after low-intensity, experimental fires in the early dry season (June), and compared with the composition in neighbouring unburnt plots. The composition of the assemblage of captured skinks was not significantly affected by fire, and no change in total abundance of skinks was recorded. Arthropods constitute the principal food of the skinks and the composition of the captured arthropod samples on the treatment plots was significantly affected by the fires, with spiders, beetles and hemipterans increasing in numbers during the immediate post-fire period. Seasonal changes in captured skink assemblage composition, unrelated to the fire event, occurred between the wet–dry season transition and the early dry season. These changes were associated with variation in four weather variables and were possibly also related to seasonal reproductive activity. Our study demonstrates a high degree of resilience of savanna skinks to individual fire events; however, the longer-term effect of different fire regimes requires further investigation.

publication date

  • 2006

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