Artwork paired with a symposium at the Ecological Society of Australia conference 2015
Artist: Elia Pirtle
Symposium 4: Fire in Australia: how was the biota prepared for human occupation?
Medium: Gouache paints on paper
The Great Desert Skink is a threatened species of burrowing skink, shown here amongst its preferred spinifex grass habitat, which occupies arid and fire-prone regions. This illustration was completed during the artist’s time volunteering at Newhaven Sanctuary with Danae Moore. Danae’s research focuses on the effect of fire on the Great Desert Skink. She has discovered that, while fires do not directly affect the burrowing skink, the loss of cover associated with complete burns can cause substantial declines in both breeding success and burrow occupancy four months after the burn. These results highlight the importance of considering the indirect and long term effects of fire management policies, and demonstrate how understanding the ecological mechanisms of species declines can improve conservation through targeted fire management policies.