Topics > Science > Science & research > Ecological processes

Disturbance ecology and fire

In Australia, fire is a factor - often a critical factor - in the natural disturbance regime that influences the distribution and abundance of populations and ecosystems.

Fire regimes - the type, extent, season, intensity and interval between fires - interact with and respond to other ecological processes, such as climate and interactions between organisms, to produce the range of ecosystems and ecological communities that we see in the landscape.

Particular ecosystems have evolved with a particular set of fire regimes and certain species will be present under these fire regimes.

Unlocking the ecological information behind changes in fire regimes presents a major research challenge for the department. The department's fire research program is exploring beneficial fire regimes and impacts of fire in the landscape, and how to manage fire-prone systems to maximise public safety, and ecosystem health and regeneration.

The department's fire research program has priority themes that include:

  • the effect of varying fire regimes on biota
  • fuel dynamics
  • fire behaviour.

FuSE research project

The department, in partnership with the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, CSIRO and the South Australian Country Fire Service, are working together on the FuSE research project in South Australia's Murraylands region. The project aims to gauge how heath and mallee vegetation burns under different weather conditions, and by knowing how individual components of fire behaviour work together, the size and spread of a fire can be predicted. This research has provided us with a better understanding of how to manage fire in these ecosystems.

Find out more about fire research.