Staff profile

Professor Michael Clarke

Head of School of Life Sciences, Director - Securing Food, Water & the Environment Research Focus Area

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering
School of Life Sciences
Department of Zoology

Biological Sciences Building 1, Room 203, Melbourne (Bundoora)

Area of study

Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Brief profile

 

Prof Mike Clarke is the Head of the School of Life Sciences, Director, Securing Food, Water & the Environment Research Focus Area, and Professor of Zoology at La Trobe University. He has a long-standing interest in the impact of fire upon fauna. He has published internationally on the ecology and conservation biology of birds, reptiles, mammals, fish and plants. He leads research, along with his colleague Prof Andrew Bennett from Deakin University, into the impact of fire in the mallee, the Box-Ironbark forests, the Central Highlands, and Wilsons Promontory. He also maintains an ongoing research interest in threatened species and threatening processes. He was the Convener of the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act to the Victorian Minister for the Environment for five years. In 2007 he was awarded the DL Serventy Medal by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union for his outstanding contribution to the scientific literature in ornithology. In 2010 he appeared as an expert witness in fire ecology at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and continues to conduct ecological research that informs public policy.

Teaching units

WCB2IC – Issues in Conservation Biology

ZOO3EPA – Mallee Field Course

Recent publications

  1. Nugent DT, Leonard S, & Clarke MF (in press) Interactions between the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) and fire in south-eastern Australia. Wildlife Research 
  2. Kelly, L.T., Bennett, A.F., Clarke, M.F. & McCarthy, M.A. (in press) Optimal fire histories for biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology. 
  3. Farnsworth, L.M., Nimmo, D.G., Kelly, L.T., Bennett, A.F. & Clarke, M.F (2014) Does pyrodiversity beget alpha, beta or gamma diversity? A landscape perspective on fire mosaics and reptile communities. Diversity and Distributions 20, 663-673
  4. Robinson, N. M., Leonard, S. W. J., Bennett, A. F., & Clarke, M. F. (2014) Refuges for birds in fire-prone landscapes: The influence of fire severity and fire history on the distribution of forest birds. Forest Ecology and Management, 318, 110-121.
  5. Leonard, S., Bennett, A.F. & Clarke, M.F. (2014)  Determinants of the occurrence of unburnt patches: potential biotic refuges in a large intense wildfire in south-eastern Australia.  Forest Ecology and Management 314: 85-93.
  6. Robinson, N.M., Leonard, S.W.J., Ritchie, E.G., Bassett, M., Chia, E.K., Buckingham, S., Gibb, H., Bennett, A.F. and Clarke, M.F. (2013).  Refuges for fauna in fire-prone landscapes: their ecological functions and importance. Journal of Applied Ecology 50: 1321-1329.
  7. Maron M., Grey M.J., Catterall C.P., Major R.E., Oliver D.L., Clarke M.F., Loyn R.H., Mac Nally R., Davidson I., Thomson J.R. (2013) Avifaunal disarray due to a single despotic species. Diversity and Distributions 19, 1468-1479
  8. Kelly, L.T., Damon, R., Nimmo, D.G., Clarke, M.F. & Bennett, A. F. (2013) Spatial and temporal drivers of small mammal distributions in a semi-arid environment: The role of rainfall, vegetation and life history. Austral Ecology 38, 786-797
  9. Avitabile, S. C., Callister, K. E., Kelly, L. T., Haslem, A., Fraser,L.,  Nimmo,D. G., Watson, S. J., Kenny, S. A., Taylor, R.S., Spence-Bailey, L. M., Bennett, A. F. & Clarke, M. F. (2013) Systematic fire mapping is critical for fire ecology, planning and management: A case study in the semi-arid Murray Mallee, south-eastern Australia. Landscape and Urban Planning, 117, 81-91.
  10. Kelly LK , Dayman R, Nimmo DG, Clarke MF, Bennett AF (2013) Spatial and temporal drivers of small mammal distributions in a semi-arid environment: the role of rainfall, vegetation and life-history. Austral Ecology 38, 786-797
  11. Taylor, R.S., Watson, S.W., Bennett, A.F. & Clarke, M.F. (2013). Which fire management strategies benefit biodiversity? A landscape-perspective case study using birds in mallee ecosystems of south-eastern Australia. Biological Conservation, 159, 248-256.
  12. Haslem, A.,  Avitabile, S. C., Taylor, R. S., Kelly, L. T., Watson, S. J., Nimmo, D. G., Kenny, S. A., Callister, K. E., Spence-Bailey, L. M., Bennett, A. F. & Clarke, M. F. (2012) Time-since-fire and inter-fire interval influence hollow availability for fauna in a fire-prone system. Biological Conservation 152, 212-221
  13. Nimmo D. G., Kelly L. T., Spence-Bailey L. M., Watson, S.J, Taylor R.S., Clarke M. F., Bennett A. F. (2013) Fire mosaics and reptile conservation in a fire-prone region. Conservation Biology 159, 248-256
  14. Nimmo, D.G., Kelly, L.T., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Watson, S.J., Haslem, A., White, J.G., Clarke, M.F. & Bennett, A.F. (2012) Predicting the century-long post-fire responses of reptiles. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21, 1062-1073
  15. Watson, S.J,  Taylor, R. S. Nimmo, D. G., Kelly, L. T., Clarke M.F. and Bennett A.F. (2012) The influence of unburnt patches and distance from refuges on post-fire bird communities. Animal Conservation 15, 499-507
  16. Taylor, R.S., Watson, S.J., Nimmo, D.G., Kelly, L.T., Bennett, A.F. & Clarke, M.F. (2012) Landscape-scale effects of fire on bird assemblages: does pyrodiversity beget biodiversity? Diversity and Distributions, 18, 519-529. 
  17. Watson, S.J., Taylor, R.S., Nimmo, D.G., Kelly, L.T., Haslem, A., Clarke, M.F. & Bennett, A.F. (2012) Effects of time-since-fire on bird species: how informative are generalized fire-response curves for conservation management? Ecological Applications, 22, 685-696.
  18. Kelly, L.T., Nimmo, D.G., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Taylor, R.S, Watson, S.J. Clarke, M.F. & Bennett, A.F. (2012) Managing fire mosaics for small mammal conservation: a landscape perspective. Journal of Applied Ecology 49, 412-421
  19. Watson, S.J., Taylor, R.S., Spence-Bailey, L., Nimmo, D.G., Kenny, S., Kelly, L.T., Haslem, A., Griffioen, P., Callister, K., Brown, L., Avitabile, S., Bennett, A.F. and Clarke, M.F. (2012) The Mallee Fire and Biodiversity Project Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 124, 38-46
  20. Kelly, L.T., Nimmo, D.G., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Haslem, A., Watson, S.J., Clarke, M.F., & Bennett, A.F. (2011) Influence of fire history on small mammal distribution: insights from a 100-year post-fire chronosequence.  Diversity and Distributions 17: 462-473 
  21. Burbidge, A.H., Maron M., Clarke, M.F., Baker, J., Oliver, & Ford, G. (2011) Linking science and practice in ecological research: how can we do it better? Ecological Management and Restoration 12:54-60 
  22. Haslem, A., Kelly, L.T., Nimmo, D.G., Watson, S.J., Kenny, S.A., Taylor, R.S., Avitabile, S.C., Callister, K.E., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Bennett, A.F., & Clarke, M.F. (2011) Habitat or fuel? Implications of long-term, post-fire dynamics for the development of key resources for fauna and fire.  Journal of Applied Ecology 48:247-256 
  23. Clarke, M.F., Avitabile, S.C., Brown, L., Callister, K.E., Haslem, A., Holland, G.J., Kelly, L.T., Kenny, S.A., Nimmo, D.G., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Taylor, R.S., Watson, S.J., & Bennett, A.F. (2010) Ageing mallee eucalypt vegetation after fire: insights for successional trajectories in semiarid mallee ecosystems. Australian Journal of Botany 58: 363-372. 
  24. Driscoll, D.A., Lindenmayer, D.B., Bennett, A.F., Bode, M., Bradstock, R.A., Cary, G.J., Clarke, M.F., Dexter, N., Fensham, R.J., Friend, G.R., Gill, A.M., James, S., Kay, G., Keith, D.A., MacGregor, C., Possingham, H.P., Russell-Smith, J., Salt, D., Watson, J.E.M., Williams, R.J., & York, A. (2010) Resolving conflicts in fire management using decision theory: asset-protection versus biodiversity conservation. Conservation Letters 3: 215-223. 
  25. Driscoll, D.A., Lindenmayer, D.B., Bennett, A.F., Bode, M., Bradstock, R.A., Cary, G.J., Clarke, M.F., Dexter, N., Fensham, R.J., Friend, G.R., Gill, A.M., James, S., Kay, G., Keith, D.A., MacGregor, C., Russell-Smith, J., Salt, D., Watson, J.E.M., Williams, R.J., & York, A. (2010) Fire management for biodiversity conservation: key research questions and our capacity to answer them. Biological Conservation 143: 1928-1939.
  26. Haslem, A., Callister, K.E., Avitabile, S.C., Griffioen, P.A., Kelly, L.T., Nimmo, D.G., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Taylor, R.S., Watson, S.J., Brown, L., Bennett, A.F., & Clarke, M.F. (2010) A framework for mapping vegetation over broad spatial extents: a technique to aid land management across jurisdictional boundaries. Landscape and Urban Planning 97: 296-305. 
  27. Kelly, L.T., Nimmo, D.G., Spence-Bailey, L.M., Clarke, M.F. and Bennett, A.F. (2010) The short-term responses of small mammals to wildfire in semiarid mallee shrubland, Australia Wildlife Research 37: 293-300. 
  28. Bennett, A.F., Haslem, A., Cheal, D., Clarke, M.F., Jones, R., Koehn, J., Lake, P.S., Lumsden, L.F., Lunt, I.R., Mackey, B., Menkhorst, P.W., New, T., Newell, G., O’Hara, T., Quinn, G.P., Radford, J.Q., Robinson, D., Watson, J. and Yen, A.L. 2009. Ecological processes: a key element in strategies for nature conservation. Ecological Management and Restoration 10: 192-199.
  29. Brown, S., Clarke M.F., and Clarke R. (2009) Fire is a key element in the landscape-scale habitat requirements and global population status of a threatened bird: The Mallee Emu-wren (Stipiturus mallee) Biological Conservation 142:432-445.
  30. Clarke MF, (2008) Catering for the needs of fauna in fire management: science or just wishful thinking? Wildlife Research 35:385-394. 

Research projects

1. Mallee Fire and Biodiversity Project

2. Fire Refuge Project (Kilmore-Murrindindi Fire)

3. Long-term study of bird community recovery after fire at Wilsons Promontory

4. Mallee Hawkeye Project

5. Foothill Forest Fire Project

6. Behavioural ecology of Australian birds