The Mallee Emu-Wren fire ecology project

The Mallee emu-wren Stipiturus mallee is the epitome of the Aussie battler.

It weighs barely five grams, it considers ten metres a long flight, and it resides in very flammable vegetation. It is a poor disperser, yet its habitat is intrinsically fragmented.

Like many Australians, the Mallee emu-wren has a troubled relationship with fire - it requires fire to create new habitat, yet fire is wiping out entire populations, which the rare and endangered Mallee emu-wren can afford.

I’m interested in what I call “Patch Value”.

This incorporates the size, isolation and quality of habitat patches, together with the permeability of the surrounding matrix.

Incorporating dispersal limitation in species distribution models is necessary to realistically model how species persist in landscapes.

I am using long-term distribution data and ecological modelling to predict where in the landscape Mallee emu-wrens are likely to persist.

Project partners

  • Birdlife Australia
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Victoria)
  • Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (South Australia)
  • Parks Victoria
  • Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment