Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 1529–1542 | Cite as

Restoration rocks: integrating abiotic and biotic habitat restoration to conserve threatened species and reduce fire fuel load

  • Alice McDougall
  • Richard N. C. Milner
  • Don A. Driscoll
  • Annabel L. Smith
Original Paper


With rapid urban expansion, biodiversity conservation and human asset protection often require different regimes for managing wildfire risk. We conducted a controlled, replicated experiment to optimise habitat restoration for the threatened Australian pink-tailed worm-lizard, Aprasia parapulchella while reducing fire fuel load in a rapidly developing urban area. We used dense addition of natural rock (30 % cover) and native grass revegetation (Themeda triandra and Poa sieberiana) to restore critical habitat elements. Combinations of fire and herbicide (Glyphosate) were used to reduce fuel load and invasive exotic species. Rock restoration combined with herbicide application met the widest range of restoration goals: it reduced fire fuel load, increased ant occurrence (the primary prey of A. parapulchella) in the short-term and increased the growth and survival of native grasses. Lizards colonised the restored habitat within a year of treatment. Our study documents an innovative way by which conflicts between biodiversity conservation and human asset protection can be overcome.


Ecological restoration Fire management Habitat loss Invasive species Urban ecology Wildland-urban interface 



This project was supported by funds from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government. We thank Dylan Kendall, Ros Ransome, Will Osborne, David Wong, ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Greening Australia for support with project planning and implementation. Meredith Cosgrove, Russell Barrett and Keith McDougall assisted with vegetation surveys. Andrew Higgins assisted with soil chemistry analysis.

Supplementary material

10531_2016_1136_MOESM1_ESM.docx (807 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 807 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice McDougall
    • 1
  • Richard N. C. Milner
    • 2
  • Don A. Driscoll
    • 1
    • 3
  • Annabel L. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and Society, Frank Fenner Building 141Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Parks and Conservation ServiceAustralian Capital Territory GovernmentCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin University GeelongBurwoodAustralia

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