The Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel released, on 23 April 2020, a priority list of 191 invertebrate species known or presumed to have been severely impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires. This list will help guide post-fire management and conservation responses.
A further 147 species are prioritised for further assessment because of concern about possible fire impact.
Forty-nine invertebrate species considered threatened before the fires are on the list. These include freshwater mussels, shrimps, burrowing crayfish, land snails, spiders, millipedes, bees, dragonflies, bugs and butterflies.
There are approximately 320,000 invertebrate species in Australia—a far greater number than vertebrate or plant species. Many invertebrate species have very localised ranges so it is likely the fires will have severely affected many more invertebrate than plant or vertebrate species.
Assessment of fire impact on invertebrate species was led by Professor John Woinarski in consultation with many invertebrate experts. It was largely based on spatial analysis comparing the areas within the extent of the 2019-20 bushfires with the distributions of individual invertebrate species.
Assessing the impacts of fires on invertebrates is challenging, because there is so little known about where they live and how they respond to fire. However, broad management actions that are likely to assist in their recovery include:
- rapid on-ground surveys to establish the extent of population loss and provide a baseline for ongoing monitoring; and
- protecting unburnt areas (within or adjacent to recently burnt ground, or in suitable habitat away from the burnt areas) that provide refuge.
This priority list should be seen as preliminary. It is highly likely that many fire-affected invertebrate species are not included in the below list and the list may be updated as more information becomes available.
Download Summary Report
Summary of the provisional list of invertebrates requiring urgent management intervention (PDF - 329.62 KB)
Summary of the provisional list of invertebrates requiring urgent management intervention (DOCX - 95.32 KB)