Fire in Australian savannas: from leaf to landscape

Beringer, Jason, Hutley, Lindsay B., Abramson, David, Arndt, Stefan K., Briggs, Peter, Bristow, Mila, Canadell, Josep G., Cernusak, Lucas A., Eamus, Derek, Edwards, Andrew C., Evans, Bradley J., Fest, Benedikt, Goergen, Klaus, Grover, Samantha P., Hacker, Jörg, Haverd, Vanessa, Kanniah, Kasturi, Livesley, Stephen J., Lynch, Amanda, Maier, Stefan, Moore, Caitlin, Raupach, Michael, Russell-Smith, Jeremy, Scheiter, Simon, Tapper, Nigel J., and Uotila, Petteri (2015) Fire in Australian savannas: from leaf to landscape. Global Change Biology, 21 (1). pp. 62-81.

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Abstract

Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km(2)) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have coevolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here, we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management.

Item ID: 37864
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: biomass burning, climate feedbacks, greenhouse gas exchange, net ecosystem carbon balance, savanna
Additional Information:

© 2014 The Authors. Global Change Biology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

ISSN: 1365-2486
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FF0348550, ARC DP0344744, ARC DP0772981, ARC DP130101566, ARC LP0774812, ARC LP100100073, ARC SR0566976, ARC FT1110602
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2015 17:01
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
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