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David B. Lindenmayer, Lachlan McBurney, Wade Blanchard
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Fire Effects

NRFSN number: 25290
FRAMES RCS number: 66987
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Large quantities of dead wood can be generated by disturbances such as wildfires. Dead trees created by disturbances play many critical ecological roles in forest ecosystems globally. The ability of deadwood to serve its ecological roles is contingent, in part, on the length of time trees remain standing following disturbance. Here, we briefly outline the results of a 10-year study that aimed to quantify the rate of collapse of trees killed in a major wildfire in the wet ash forests of mainland south-eastern Australia. We also quantified the factors associated with dead tree collapse. Our analyses revealed that 23% of 417 measured trees collapsed between 2011 and 2021. The most parsimonious model of the factors influencing tree collapse revealed a strong effect of diameter; smaller diameter trees were more likely to collapse over the 10 years of our study than larger diameter trees. In addition, trees in small and large patches were more likely to collapse than trees in contiguous forest (where there had been no logging in the surrounding area). If current rates of tree fall are maintained, then many of trees initially measured will have collapsed by 2030. Such losses of dead trees will have major negative effects on key values of ash-type forests such as biodiversity conservation.


Lindenmayer, David B.; McBurney, Lachlan; Blanchard, Wade. 2023. Drivers of collapse of fire-killed trees. Austral Ecology 48(1):134-142.

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