Granivorous finches have declined in abundance across north Australia. This is due, in part, to larger and more
frequent fires, which have potentially homogenized grass diversity over large areas. Sorghum grasses now
dominate the landscape, while coverage by perennial grasses is patchy. This project examines the hypothesis
that an increasingly nomadic lifestyle, associated with tracking grass seed availability over larger spatial scales
than before, has caused recent declines of granivorous finches. Using new technologies to assess movements of
small vertebrates, the project aims to evaluate how fire affects rangeland functioning, particularly grass diversity,
to improve fire management of tropical savannas in northern Australia.
This research provides new tools (nano-transmitters) and technologies (coded VHF signal detection by drone) to
monitor mobile small vertebrates. It offers new insights to how grass finches track, and fire regimes affect, annual
and perennial grass seed availability in tropical savannas. Outcomes will improve understanding of tropical
savanna functioning and fire management. The research aligns with ‘savanna burning’ methodologies and carbon
sequestration goals in north Australia.