The impact of Australia’s 2019-2020 bushfires on frogs: people power to the rescue?
Join us on Wednesday June 2nd, 2021 with Australian conservation biologist and herpetologist Jodi Rowley.
The bushfires in southeastern Australia during the summer of 2019/20 were unprecedented in their extent and intensity. From September 2019 to January 2020, more than 17 million hectares of forest burnt in Australia. By area, this was the largest fire season in southeastern Australia since European occupation and the impact of these fires on biodiversity is likely to be dramatic. However, there is little information available on the response of most biodiversity, particularly amphibians and reptiles, to fire. As a result, post-fire management decisions have been hindered by a lack of knowledge, with prioritisation efforts based on best guesses rather than empirical evidence. This presentation will focus on the data gathered rapidly and across a large scale in the wake of these fires via the continental-scale citizen science project, FrogID. This data provided the best available information on the response of Australia’s frogs to these fires, and provide great hope in the ability of many frog species to survive such events. Citizen science projects like FrogID, alongside targeted scientific surveys, will be vital to conservation in response to increasing anthropogenically-driven ecological events.
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Dr. Jodi Rowley is a conservation biologist focused on amphibians and their conservation. She is Curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology at the Australian Museum and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Her research seeks to uncover and document biodiversity and inform conservation decisions. She has led many expeditions in search of amphibians in Australia and Southeast Asia, and co-discovered more than 30 frog species new to science. Her recent work includes searching for the frog species that are missing, feared extinct. She is lead scientist of FrogID, a national citizen science project that has collected almost 400,000 records of frogs across Australia.