Hexbyte Glen Cove Wildfire bees on the brink thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Wildfire bees on the brink

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Graphical summary of the study. Credit: Flinders University

The number of threatened Australian native bee species is expected to increase by nearly  five times after the devastating Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20, new research led by Flinders University has found.

With 24 million hectares of Australia’s burnt, researchers say the casualties are clear among bee fauna and other insects and invertebrates after studying 553 species (about one-third of Australia’s known ) to assess the long-term environmental damage from the natural disaster.

“Our research is a call for action, from governments and policymakers, to immediately help these and other most in danger,” says lead author Flinders University Ph.D. candidate James Dorey, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Yale University Center for Biodiversity and Global Change.  

Of the bees studied, nine species were assessed as Vulnerable and two more Endangered as a result of the multiple fire fronts in the 2019-20 bushfires that also destroyed approximately 3000 homes and killed or displaced an estimated 3 billion animals.

The new study published in Global Change Biology warns widespread wildfire and forest fire damage is being repeated all around the world, from North America and Europe to the Congo and Asia, causing catastrophic impacts on biodiversity and sudden and marked reduction in population sizes of many species.

A colourful display of some of Australia’s native bees. Credit: James Dorey, Flinders University – Yale

“In these circumstances, there is a need for government and land managers to respond more rapidly to implement priority conservation management actions for the most-affected species in order to help prevent extinctions,” says Mr Dorey.

“Conserving insects and other less visible taxa should also be a factor in restoring and preserving some of the hundreds of bees that may not yet have been studied or recorded.”

He says the study forms a foundation for assessment of other taxa in Australia or on other continents where species are understudied and not registered on datasets or by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN Red List).

“Climate change is increasing the frequency of like wildfire, which impacts our wildlife,” says fellow author Dr. Stefan Caddy-Retalic, from The University of Adelaide and University of Sydney.

The golden-green carpenter bee (Xylocopa (Lestis) aerate Female) Xylocopa sp. Credit: James Dorey, Flinders University – Yale University

“Our study shows that we can assess the likely impact of natural disasters on poorly studied species, even when we can’t physically visit the field to do surveys.”

“Listing severely-impacted species on the IUCN red list and under Australian law represents our best approach to lobby governments to act,” he says, adding native bees are very important providers of ecosystem services including pollination, but most are poorly known.

“Most people aren’t aware of just how vulnerable our native bees are because they are not widely studied,” adds Flinders University researcher Olivia Davies, another of the 13 authors on the major paper. “The fact that no Australian bees are listed by the IUCN shows just how neglected these important species are.”

The study, which recommends 11 Australian bee species (just 2% of those analysed) as priority taxa for listing as IUCN Threatened species, also demonstrates a new model for “using the data we already have to understand how natural disasters are likely to impact key species and their ecosystems”.

L gracilipes, one of the species assessed as vulnerable in the new report. Credit: Ken Walker (iNaturalist Australia)

“Being able to collect targeted data will always be the gold standard but we shouldn’t let data gaps stop us from acting to protect species we know are vulnerable,” Dr. Dorey concludes.

The collaborative study includes researchers from Flinders University’s Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Sociality, the South Australian Museum, University of Adelaide, Curtin University, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Murdoch University and Charles Darwin University.



More information:
James B. Dorey et al, Continental risk assessment for understudied taxa post‐catastrophic wildfire indicates severe impacts on the Australian bee fauna, Global Change Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15879

Citation:
Wildfire bees on the brink (2021, October 1)
retrieved 1 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-wildfire-bees-brink.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Wildfire in west Australia burns more homes in dry wind

Hexbyte Glen Cove

In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a firefighter attends a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)

More than 70 homes have been lost in a wildfire outside Australia’s western city of Perth that is expected to continue burning for days.

The had razed more than 9,000 hectares (22,200 acres) of farm and woodland in hills east of Perth by early Wednesday, authorities said.

Western Australia state’s Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the number of houses destroyed had jumped to 71 overnight, and conditions would remain difficult for firefighters with no rain forecast until Sunday. The jump was from 59 houses late Tuesday.

“We’re into day three of this fire today and it’s going to continue to be a challenging fire for us for at least the next three or four or five days,” Klemm said.

Mayor Kevin Bailey of Swan, one of the threatened by the blaze, said many residents remained on high alert.

“We’ve got strong easterly breezes predicted. That’s of great concern for us, because there’s still a lot of active fire, even in those areas that have burned over the last couple of days. So it’s a great risk,” Bailey told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Perth and its surrounds had been in lockdown since Sunday as a pandemic precaution, but those threatened by the fire were exempted from the pandemic stay-at-home order so they could evacuate.

  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a firefighter attends to a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)
  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a firefighter attends to a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)
  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a helicopter drops fire retardant on a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)
  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a firefighter attends to a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)
  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a firefighter shelters under a truck and trailer as he works at a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)
  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a firefighter works at a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)
  • In this photo provided by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, firefighters attend to a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. An out-of-control wildfire burning northeast of the Australian west coast city of Perth has destroyed dozens of homes and was threatening more. (Evan Collis/DFES via AP)

“A lot of people were at home—they weren’t at school or work—so they were very fortunate to able to react quickly,” Bailey said.

Many people who had fled to evacuation centers were unsure whether their homes had survived, he said.

“We can’t get yet because the fire ground is unsafe for crews to assess what’s happened there,” Bailey said.



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Citation:
Wildfire in west Australia burns more homes in dry wind (2021, February 3)
retrieved 3 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-wildfire-west-australia-homes.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.