Australia’s semi-arid Eucalyptus-Spinifex (Mallee) woodlands are fire-prone. For many millennia, Aboriginal people have managed these landscapes using a variety of methods. One of these methods is patch-mosaic burning, which is embedded in culture and thus termed ‘cultural burning.’

Mallee ecosystems support a very rich lizard fauna. The resources required for lizard species in these landscapes include bare ground, spinifex hummocks (Triodia sp.), leaf litter and logs. Fires dramatically alter the availability of these resources, and hence changes in lizard species composition following fires has been explained by changes in the availability of these resources.

However, previous studies have not distinguished cultural burning from wildfires or fires that were deliberately lit for other purposes. The NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage is a partner organisation for this project: “Remote Sensing of Spatial Configuration of Resources used by Lizard Species.”


This project aims to use high-resolution aerial photography and ground measurements to characterise these resources in Mallee country, within the boundaries of the Rick Farley Reserve (Western NSW), where cultural burning took place in July 2018 following Aboriginal cultural practices.

The project will involve two weeks of fieldwork in late January aimed at ground measurements and observations of lizard activity.

Get involved

To learn more about this project, contact Professor Graciela Metternicht.

T: +61 2 9385 5761