A Huron–Manistee National Forests employee, on secondment to Australia, holds a kangaroo joey.
Original Published Date: 
Friday, February 21, 2020

Full article published in The Conversation.

ARC-supported researchers are part of the effort to help our native species recover from the devastation of bushfire, by increasing our understanding of the ways that animals survive an inferno and its immediate aftermath.

A study led by ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Associate Professor Dale Nimmo, and 27 colleagues, considered how modern threats make things much harder for animals in fire-prone landscapes.

The researchers say that some native species are not accustomed to dealing with red foxes and feral cats, and so might overlook cues that indicate their presence, and make the bad decision to move through a burned landscape when they should stay put. When fires burn habitat in agricultural or urban landscapes, animals might encounter not just predators but vehicles, livestock and harmful chemicals.

Writing in The Conversation, the researchers say that there is still a lot to learn about how Australia’s wildlife detect and respond to fire.

"As this bushfire season has made brutally clear, climate change is increasing the scale and intensity of bushfires. This reduces the number of small refuges such as fallen logs, increases the distance animals must cover to find new habitat and leaves fewer cues to direct them to safer places.

"Filling in the knowledge gaps might lead to new ways of helping wildlife adapt to our rapidly changing world."

Photo credit: 

Huron–Manistee National Forests employee, on secondment to Australia, holds a kangaroo joey. Credit: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).