How to prioritize species recovery after a megafire

Ward, Michelle, Carwardine, Josie, Watson, James E.M., Pintor, Anna, Stuart, Stephanie, Possingham, Hugh P., Rhodes, Jonathan R., Carey, Alexander R., Auerbach, Nancy, Reside, April, Yong, Chuan Ji, and Tulloch, Ayesha I.T. (2022) How to prioritize species recovery after a megafire. Conservation Biology, 36 (5). e13936.

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Abstract

Due to climate change, megafires are increasingly common and have sudden, extensive impacts on many species over vast areas, leaving decision makers uncertain about how best to prioritize recovery. We devised a decision-support framework to prioritize conservation actions to improve species outcomes immediately after a megafire. Complementary locations are selected to extend recovery actions across all fire-affected species' habitats. We applied our method to areas burned in the 2019-2020 Australian megafires and assessed its conservation advantages by comparing our results with outcomes of a site-richness approach (i.e., identifying areas that cost-effectively recover the most species in any one location). We found that 290 threatened species were likely severely affected and will require immediate conservation action to prevent population declines and possible extirpation. We identified 179 subregions, mostly in southeastern Australia, that are key locations to extend actions that benefit multiple species. Cost savings were over AU$300 million to reduce 95% of threats across all species. Our complementarity-based prioritization also spread postfire management actions across a wider proportion of the study area compared with the site-richness method (43% vs. 37% of the landscape managed, respectively) and put more of each species' range under management (average 90% vs. 79% of every species' habitat managed). In addition to wildfire response, our framework can be used to prioritize conservation actions that will best mitigate threats affecting species following other extreme environmental events (e.g., floods and drought).

Item ID: 75893
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1523-1739
Keywords: actions, Australia, bushfire impacts, climate change, conservation, fire
Copyright Information: This is an open access article under the terms of theCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivsLicense, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided theoriginal work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.© 2022 The Authors.Conservation Biologypublished by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DE170100599
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2022 08:02
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410405 Environmental rehabilitation and restoration @ 100%
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