Aboriginal hunting buffers climate-driven fire-size variability in Australia’s spinifex grasslands


rbird.jpgAcross diverse ecosystems, greater climatic variability tends to increase wildfire size. Aboriginal Australian hunting fires have been hypothesized to buffer such variability. In a new paper published by Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, Rebecca Bird, Doug Bird, and Brian Codding show that Aboriginal fires are smaller, more tightly clustered, and remain small even when climate variation causes huge fires in the lightning region. As these effects likely benefit threatened small-mammal species, Aboriginal hunters should be considered trophic facilitators, and policies aimed at reducing the risk of large fires should promote land-management strategies consistent with Aboriginal burning regimes. Read Article.