ABSTRACT

Fires are a common occurrence in Australian terrestrial ecosystems. A large fire occurred in January 2013 within and adjacent to the Warrumbungle National Park, near Coonabarabran in NSW, burning over 560 km2 of the park and surrounding region (the Wambelong fire). The Wambelong fire affected Dunphy Lake, the only lake in the park. In this study, we assessed the post-fire aquatic animal community of the lake in March and September 2014. At the times of sampling the lake was largely dry and had only small isolated pools. We found 53 invertebrate taxa including the larvae of the dragonfly Austrogynacantha heterogena and one vertebrate species (larvae of the frog Litoria rubella) in the pool-water samples. Artificial inundation of the lake sediment samples under laboratory conditions led to the emergence of 31 taxa, totalling 62 taxa in the lake overall. Most taxa found in the lake are opportunistic and characteristic of those in still-water bodies. Dunphy Lake seems to be highly resilient in sustaining diverse aquatic animals. We highlight the importance of complementary pre- and post-fire data for improved assessments and interpretations of fire impacts to guide monitoring of post-fire recovery.

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