Impact of 2019–2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat

Michelle Ward, Ayesha I.T. Tulloch, James Q. Radford, Brooke A. Williams, April E. Reside, Stewart L. Macdonald, Helen J. Mayfield, Martine Maron, Hugh P. Possingham, Samantha J. Vine, James L. O’Connor, Emily J. Massingham, Aaron C. Greenville, John C.Z. Woinarski, Stephen T. Garnett, Mark Lintermans, Ben C. Scheele, Josie Carwardine, Dale G. Nimmo, David B. LindenmayerRobert M. Kooyman, Jeremy S. Simmonds, Laura J. Sonter, James E.M. Watson

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

    94 Citations (SciVal)

    Abstract

    Australia’s 2019–2020 mega-fires were exacerbated by drought, anthropogenic climate change and existing land-use management. Here, using a combination of remotely sensed data and species distribution models, we found these fires burnt ~97,000 km2 of vegetation across southern and eastern Australia, which is considered habitat for 832 species of native vertebrate fauna. Seventy taxa had a substantial proportion (>30%) of habitat impacted; 21 of these were already listed as threatened with extinction. To avoid further species declines, Australia must urgently reassess the extinction vulnerability of fire-impacted species and assist the recovery of populations in both burnt and unburnt areas. Population recovery requires multipronged strategies aimed at ameliorating current and fire-induced threats, including proactively protecting unburnt habitats.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1321-1326
    Number of pages6
    JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
    Volume4
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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