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Summer ‘mega-fires’ push more native animals towards extinction

The first national assessment of the damage wrought by the unprecedented summer bushfires on native animals finds there is likely to be a dramatic increase in the number of species facing extinction.

A comprehensive study of the effects of fires between July last year and February this year found 21 threatened species – including the long-footed potoroo and eastern bristlebird – are among 70 animal types that had more than 30 per cent of their habitat burnt.

This habitat loss puts them at a far greater risk of extinction, according to a peer-reviewed study from researchers at the University of Queensland and La Trobe University, and published in Nature, Ecology & Evolution on Tuesday.

An eastern bristlebird rescued from bushfire danger east of Mallacoota.

An eastern bristlebird rescued from bushfire danger east of Mallacoota.

“Many of the species impacted by these fires were already declining in numbers because of drought, disease, habitat destruction and invasive species,” said lead researcher Michelle Ward, a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

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