Population dynamics of native grasses in response to fire regimes in northern Australia

Bushfires are a common sight in the Top End of the Northern Territory.

The deluge of the wet season stimulates grasses to grow up to 2-3 m tall, but the annual drought of the dry season makes them highly flammable and perfect for carrying fires. A research project funded by the Bushfire CRC is looking at how burning at different yearly intervals affects the populations of native grasses and other plants that grow near the ground.

The actual means by which certain populations increase or decrease (or stay the same), such as a change to the number of seeds they produce, is being examined. This provides much more confidence to land managers, because they have solid information to guide decisions like how often they should burn.

The study of grasses in the Top End is a significant avenue of research given they provide most of the fuel for fires, and so changes to grass populations could change the occurrence and intensity of fires.

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