The 2019–20 bushfires have been extensive and – in some areas – of very high severity. Many threatened species have had most of their distributions burnt,
and fire is likely to have imperilled many species not previously considered threatened. One of the post-fire challenges to population recovery that
many native species will face is increased risk of predation, including by introduced foxes and cats. Some hub researchers have worked in detail on
the interactions between fire and predation by cats and foxes: John Woinarski, Sarah Legge, Hugh McGregor, Bronwyn Hradsky, Chris Dickman and Tida Nou describe
these interactions and discuss options for their management in these complex and challenging circumstances.
Along with other concerned conservation biologists, researchers from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub have developed a “blueprint” for management responses to the 2019–20 fires. It is hoped that the blueprint will provide valuable evidence-based guidance to a wide range of individual agencies, conservation NGOs and other groups.
Chris Dickman, Don Driscoll, Stephen Garnett, David Keith, Sarah Legge, David Lindenmayer, Martine Maron, April Reside, Euan Ritchie, James Watson, Brendan Wintle, John Woinarski (2020) After the catastrophe: A blueprint for a conservation response to large-scale ecological disaster , Threatened Species Recovery Hub, January 2020.
Top image: Bushfire affected area in a Queensland state forest. Jaana Dielenberg
Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University discusses the importance of averting extinctions of less charismatic animals.
The 2019–20 wildfires have severely impacted animals of all major species groups. Here, national experts on mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and freshwater fish and crayfish present some of the key challenges for each group and how these will influence management and research priorities in the aftermath of the fires.
Cultural fire management is the way that Indigenous people have used fire to care for Country for thousands of years, and it continues today. The devastation wreaked by the 2019–20 bushfires across millions of hectares was a wake-up call for Australia and the world. Oliver Costello from the Firesticks Alliance explains how the fires demonstrated the need to listen to and care for Country.
Australia has one of the highest rates of plant endemism of any country globally. After the catastrophic fire season of 2019–20, Dr Rachael Gallagher and Professor David Keith are leading two teams to find out which species and ecological communities are most in need of immediate recovery.
The 2019–20 bushfires burnt over 12 million hectares of south-eastern and south-western Australia, causing abrupt losses of biodiversity at a scale never seen before. Over a billion animals were estimated to have died, but the figure is likely much higher. The Australian Government’s Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel is guiding the work of prioritising species and ecological communities for emergency interventions and determining what those actions should be. Hub Deputy Director and Expert Panel member Professor Sarah Legge takes us though the hows and whys of this prioritisation, and some of its challenges.