Australia’s wildfires had a devastating toll

Flames spread in the Tambo Comples Fire near Victoria, Australia in January, 2020. Credit: BLMIdaho

A year after Australia’s devastating 2019-2020 wildlife season ended, biologists are getting a grim picture of the impact on wildlife. Scientists say more than 500 species of plants and animals may be endangered or extinct due to the fires, and many of their habitats have been severely altered. 

Up to 18% of Australia’s koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population may have been killed in the fire, but many other species may have been affected even more, particularly those already in decline. Forty-nine vertebrates not previously considered endangered qualify for being listed as threatened. The WWF Australia estimates as many as 3 billion individual mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs were killed or displaced, and biologists warn the impacts on invertebrates and plants may be even greater. 

Read more in Science News.