Estimating wildlife mortality during bushfire

Date: 02, Nov, 2020
Author(s):   Chris Jolly, Chris Dickman, Sarah Legge, John Woinarski and Dale Nimmo
Publisher: TSR Hub

The prediction by Professor Chris Dickman that more than 1 billion (and later 3 billion) animals were killed in the 2019–20 bushfires helped focus the world’s attention on the plight of Australia’s wildlife. Yet these predictions were admittedly “back of the envelope”, 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. However, such mortality estimates may not be directly applicable to fire-induced mortality because some animals can survive fires, depending on their traits, the environment, availability of refuge habitat and the fire’s intensity. This project will review the literature on wildlife mortality during fire and help provide a framework for obtaining rapid mortality estimates during future fires in Australia and around the world.