ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Estimating wildlife mortality during the 2019-20 bushfire season (2020-2021)

Funding

Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE), $67,650.

Investigators/ Researchers

Associate Professor Dale Nimmo

Research Theme

Biodiversity Conservation

Description

It has been estimated that more than one billion animals were affected by the 2019-20 bushfires in eastern Australia. However this prediction was based on research from the mid-2000s that used animal density estimates to predict the mortality of birds, reptiles and mammals due to land clearing and are not directly applicable to fire-induced mortality.

This is because animals can survive fires, depending on their traits, the environment, availability of refuge habitat and fire intensity.

For this project researchers will review data on fire-induced mortality and capitalise on a newly available animal density database to develop more robust estimates of the number of terrestrial vertebrates killed during fires, beginning with the 2019/20 bushfire season.

The project will enumerate the scale of fire-induced mortality and help reveal the species that suffered the largest population declines due to fire.  It will refine understanding of which species are most in urgent need of on-ground conservation actions, help provide more resolution for assessments of changes in conservation status,  and provide a framework for obtaining rapid mortality estimates during future fires in Australia and around the world.

Outcome

The project will benefit conservation of wildlife affected by the 2019-20 wildfires, and future fires, by providing a much more robust assessment of the extent of fire-induced population losses.This will help target recovery management, inform assessments of conservation status, help prioritise the protection of biodiversity assets during future fires, and contribute to assessments of the costs and benefits of fire management options.

Contact
Associate Professor Dale Nimmo
Albury- Wodonga Campus

Email

November 2020