Impact of 2019–2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat Academic Article uri icon


  • 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, AIT
  • Radford, James Q
  • Williams, BA
  • Reside, AE
  • Macdonald, SL
  • Mayfield, HJ
  • Maron, M
  • Possingham, HP
  • Vine, SJ
  • O’Connor, JL
  • Massingham, EJ
  • Greenville, AC
  • Woinarski, JCZ
  • Garnett, ST
  • Lintermans, M
  • Scheele, BC
  • Carwardine, J
  • Nimmo, DG
  • Lindenmayer, DB
  • Kooyman, RM
  • Simmonds, JS
  • Sonter, LJ
  • Watson, JEM

publication date

  • October 1, 2020