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

Regrowth six months after the Erskine Creek Fire, Blue Mountains.

Journal: Nature Ecology & Evolution


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.



Ward M., Tulloch A. I. T., Radford J. Q., Williams B. A., Reside A. E., Macdonald S. L., Mayfield H. J., Maron M., Possingham H. P., Vine S. J., O’Connor J. L., Massingham E. J., Greenville A. C., Woinarski J. C. Z., Garnett S. T., Lintermans M., Scheele B. C., Carwardine J., Nimmo D. G., Lindenmayer D. B., Kooyman R. M., Simmonds J. S., Sonter L. J. & Watson J. E. M. (2020). Impact of 2019–2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat. Nature Ecology & Evolution.


Bushfire devastation leaves almost 50 Australian native species at risk of becoming threatened, The Guardian, Jul 2020.

Six million hectares of threatened species habitat up in smoke, The Conversation, Jan 2020.

Summer ‘mega-fires’ push more native animals towards extinction, SMH and Age, Jul 2020.

2019/20 bushfires could see 49 native species given threatened status, Bendigo Advertiser, Jul 2020.

Summer ‘mega-fires’ push more native animals towards extinction, The Age, Jul 2020.

The Terrible Consequences of Australia’s Uber-Bushfires, Wired, Jul 2020.

New report warns wildlife endangered after bushfires destroy habitat, Geelong Advertiser, Jul 2020.

Die Bilanz der Feuerkatastrophe, Spiegel, Jul 2020.

Threatened species on brink since fires, Mirage News, Jul 2020.

Fauna extinction listings may jump 14 percent after 2019-20 fires, USYD News, Jul 2020.

Bushfires could mean rise in threatened native species,, Jul 2020.

About Aaron Greenville

I'm an Ecologist investigating how ecosystems respond to climate change and the introduction of exotic species.
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