What determines resilience to fire in Tasmanian montane rainforest? — Dr. Michael-Shawn Fletcher

Lecture Theatre 1 -- Rm 106
Life Sciences Building
College Road, Sandy Bay Campus
University of Tasmania
9 May 2019

The Fire Centre is excited to hos Dr. Michael-Shawn Fletcher from the University of Melbourne. He will be talking about the resilience of the Tasmanian rainforests to the 2016 wildfires.

Here’s a recording of the seminar for those of you who missed it:


Recent catastrophic wildfires in the Tasmanian highlands herald a significant threat to the future endangered fire-sensitive ecosystems. One such ecosystem is montane rainforest, an endemic and hyper fire sensitive rainforest community that occupies upper-montane areas of this mountainous island. Post-colonial wildfires have reduced the distribution of montane rainforest by more than a third, and there is little evidence for post-fire recovery of these systems. Here, I use palaeoecology
and species distribution modelling to unpack the various factors governing the resilience of this community. I draw on the concept of “relaxation time” to argue that climate change over
millennia has acted as a press disturbance that has reduced the resilience of this ecosystem to pulse disturbance events. I contend that: (1) climate change may act to force temperate forest systems in to a disequilibrium with climate, potentially reducing their resilience to disturbance events; and (2) this climate disequilibrium might be difficult to detect until after a disturbance event drives a catastrophic regime shift


interested in the long-term interactions between humans, climate, disturbance and vegetation at local, regional and global scales. My current work involves developing and integrating high-resolution palaeoenvironmental records from across the Southern Hemisphere using multiple proxies, including microfossil, charcoal, geochemical and isotopic analyses to provide comprehensive reconstructions of environmental change.