Focusing on the rate and magnitude of species declines can miss important aspects about why species are declining, but this information could be crucial for effective management.
Fire is a complex, important and pervasive ingredient in the ecology of Australia. It destroys life but brings renewal. It can operate within or beyond our control. Individual fires, and the historic patterning of fires, can have severe impacts on many threatened species and ecological communities. And fire can compound the impacts of many other threats. Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University discusses the catastrophic losses of the 2019–20 fires, and how we can move on from mourning to action that can limit such future devastation.
The Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner and Chair of the Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel Dr Sally Box talks about the support for long-term recovery of species and ecological communities devastated by the 2019–20 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.
New research has examined how small native mammals are distributed across the Top End and the factors driving this pattern. It has revealed that while feral cats and dingoes may limit small mammal populations, managing threats to vegetation, principally fire and feral buffaloes, is the best approach to protect and recover small mammals. Dr Alyson Stobo-Wilson of Charles Darwin University explains the new findings.
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.
Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University discusses the importance of averting extinctions of less charismatic animals.
Professor Stephen Garnett of Charles Darwin University walks us through how listing works to afford legal protection to species newly at risk of extinction.
Professor David Lindenmayer and Chris MacGregor from The Australian National University tell us about their long-term monitoring collaboration with Booderee National Park managers, which is revealing detailed insights into how best to manage fires and other threats to biodiversity in the park.
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.
The 2019–20 bushfires burnt some of Australia’s most threatened woodland communities. Researchers from The University of Melbourne have been building a State and Transition Model based on expert knowledge to help inform recovery planning for Australia’s threatened woodland communities. Here, Dr Megan Good and Dr Libby Rumpff demonstrate how their framework could inform post-fire monitoring and management to avoid negative outcomes for threatened woodland ecosystems.
Fire is a feature of just about every habitat across Australia, but it operates in myriad ways within landscapes – from frequent low-intensity fires in tropical savannas to once-in-50-years crowning fires in Victorian eucalypt woodlands. There are broad trends and theories that hold in fire ecology in Australia, yet when it comes to understanding fire for conservation management, local management is absolutely essential. Dr Hugh McGregor of the University of Tasmania/Arid Recovery explains why.
Many Acacias, including Western Australia’s Critically Endangered spiral-fruited wattle, need fire to promote recruitment. Leonie Monks and Dr David Coates of the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions explain how prescribed burning has proved critical to the recovery of this threatened wattle.
Fire is a natural and frequent disturbance in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. But without active fire management, extensive fires that recur every two to three years have come to dominate the savannas. The Bardi Jawi rangers, Nyul Nyul rangers, Yawuru country managers and Sarah Legge explain how ranger groups are managing fire to protect and recover monsoon vine thickets in the Kimberley.
The Karajarri Rangers and Professor Sarah Legge of The Australian National University talk about the Pirra Jungku (desert fire) project, which is investigating how fire management approaches are influencing the health of Karajarri’s desert Country.
Studies of previous major forest wildfires in Victoria in 1983 and 2009 have provided valuable insights into how forest ecosystems will respond to the 2019–20 bushfires. Forest ecologist Professor David Lindenmayer of The Australian National University talks about how pre-fire forest condition and age influence recovery.
My name is Oliver Costello, and I’m a Bundjalung man. I was born in Byron Bay and grew up around the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales.
Threatened Species Recovery Hub Deputy Director Professor Stephen Garnett from Charles Darwin University reflects on the importance of the community in threatened species conservation.
Queensland has several species of antechinus, tiny insect-eating mammals. A few species need cool, moist, habitat found at high elevation. But as climate change advances, these rare and often threatened species are forced into ever smaller and higher areas on mountain-tops.
A team of fish experts took a close look at which freshwater fish species were likely to go extinct in the next 20 years or so. Associate Professor Mark Lintermans of the University of Canberra and Hayley Geyle of Charles Darwin University take up this tale of fishes in hot water.
Bradley Moggridge, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, brought his authoritative Indigenous voice to the creation of a set of protocols for hub researchers seeking to collaborate with Indigenous partners.
Many Australian reptile species are in trouble. Without a stepping up of conservation action Australia’s extinction rate is set to increase in coming decades. Experts from across the country are keen to identify the species at greatest risk of extinction in order to provide time to act before it is too late.
I describe myself as an environmental social scientist and knowledge broker, but my story is more complex. I’ve had the kind of varied career that allows me to bridge different ways of thinking about and using knowledge. I have a background in government and private industry, many years in the research sector, and a lot of experience working with community organisations. This helps me understand the needs and processes of different sectors, and gives me insights into diverse community perspectives on environmental challenges.
As we reach the final months of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s research program we’re starting to reflect on our legacy. Looking back, our six-year program was incredibly ambitious, delivering 147 research projects, but the need was great; Australia has over 1800 species and communities listed as threatened by a large, complex and interacting set of threats.
What price persistence? Dr Ram Pandit of the University of Western Australia (UWA), Dr Kerstin Zander of Charles Darwin University (CDU), and several researchers from both UWA and CDU are taking a close look at how people value threatened species, with some surprising – and heartening – results.
Professor Martine Maron and Dr Jeremy Simmonds of The University of Queensland explain how target-based ecological compensation overcomes some of the challenges associated with biodiversity offsetting, such as the difficulty of achieving genuine “No Net Loss”.
You’ve done some cutting edge research, but will it make a difference? Dr Rachel Morgain of The Australian National University and Professor Martine Maron of The University of Queensland talk about what researchers need to know about engaging with policy-makers.
A new study led by Professor Sarah Legge at The Australian National University and Dr Patrick Taggart from The University of Adelaide has quantified the national impact of cat-borne diseases on human health and agriculture in Australia for the first time.
Dr Georgia Garrard of The University of Melbourne explains how a new framework for biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD) can support local governments, urban planners and architects to reduce development impacts on biodiversity and increase the benefits that nature in cities can deliver to residents.
Dr Justine Shaw and PhD candidate Jeremy Bird from The University of Queensland talk about how they tested new eDNA methods to see if they could shed light on some aspects of Macquarie island’s burrowing petrels. They collaborated with molecular ecologist Dr Julie McInnes from The University of Tasmania to undertake this work.
The Threatened Species Index now includes monitoring data for threatened plants. Dr Ayesha Tulloch of The University of Sydney and Dr Micha Jackson of The University of Queensland discuss what the index has revealed about Australia’s threatened plants.
What impact did the rabbit eradication on Macquarie Island have on brown skuas (a top-native predator that preyed on the rabbits)? We asked PhD candidate Toby Travers from the University of Tasmania who has been investigating the skua response.
The deadly chytrid amphibian fungal disease and predation by non-native fish have driven large declines in the endangered spotted tree frog. In north-east Victoria bushfires and flooding have added to this already perilous state. In response 19 frogs have been collected for a captive breeding recovery program.
Booderee National Park will be celebrating Threatened Species Day (7 September) by welcoming the return of locally extinct mammals. Long-nosed potoroos and southern brown bandicoots have already been reintroduced to Booderee after being locally extinct for up to a century, and now preparations are underway to welcome a third threatened species, the eastern quoll, back to the park.