Australia’s species extinction crisis in numbers: 2019

Australia’s species extinction crisis in numbers: 2019

Hot Topics in Ecology

Australia’s species extinction crisis in numbers: 2019

A. Prof Dale Nimmo, Harry Moore, Mitch Cowan, Leanne Greenwood, Dr R. Keller Kopf, Charles Sturt University, Prof John Woinarski, Charles Darwin University
The northern pig-footed bandicoot or yirratji, Chaeropus yirratji, was extinct long before it was described in 2019.

Species are classified as Extinct (EX) when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died, and Extinct in the Wild (EX(W)) when individuals only survive in cultivation, captivity, or outside their native range. Exactly 100 Australian species are validly listed as EX or EX(W) under Australian federal, state or territory legislation, and/or under the IUCN; 38 plants, 34 mammals,10 invertebrates, 9 birds, 4 frogs, 3 reptiles,1 fish, and 1 protist. The true number of extinctions is likely far higher, due to poor survey effort (especially non-vertebrate animals, plants and fungi) and uncertain taxonomy (undescribed extinct species). There has been a steady rate of known extinctions since 1788, ~4 extinctions per decade. 

In Australia, 1892 species or subspecies at risk of extinction are listed as ‘threatened’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act: 156 birds, 134 mammals, 63 reptiles, 59 fishes, 41 amphibians, 66 ‘other animals’, and 1373 plants. Of these, 191 plants, 17 birds, 15 frogs, 10 mammals, 10 reptiles, 7 fishes and 30 other animals are Critically Endangered, meaning they have an extremely high risk of extinction—at least 10 birds and 7 mammals are predicted to be extinct within 20 years. The list of threatened species is incomplete and growing.

Major threats are invasive species (82% of species), ecosystem modification (74%), agriculture (57%), human disturbance (38%), and climate change (35%). Well-funded protected areas aid recovery, but 52% of species face threats outside protected areas, so coordination across tenures is vital. It is estimated that Australia needs to invest AUD$1.69 billion/year to recover threatened species. The current level of investment is ~AUD$122 million/year. Australia’s extinction crisis will deepen without further investment and unless the threats driving biodiversity loss are reduced.

Hot Topic Lead Author: 
Name: Dale Nimmo
Phone: 02 6051 9940

Date approved: 
Monday, December 23, 2019 - 13:57
ID Title Location Type
10401 Braby M. F. (2018) Threatened species conservation of invertebrates in Australia: an overview. Austral Entomol. 57, 173-181. Review
10402 Davies H. F., Mccarthy M. A., Firth R. S. C. et al. (2018) Declining populations in one of the last refuges for threatened mammal species in northern Australia. Austral Ecol. 43, 602-612. Natural experiment
10403 Garnett S. T., Butchart S. H. M., Baker G. B. et al. (2019) Metrics of progress in the understanding and management of threats to Australian birds. Conserv. Biol. 33, 456-468. Research paper (develop and test the utility of standardised metrics by applying them to threatened Australian bird taxa).
10404 Geyle H. M., Woinarski J. C. Z., Baker G. B. et al. (2018) Quantifying extinction risk and forecasting the number of impending Australian bird and mammal extinctions. Pac. Conserv. Biol. 24. Research paper (modelled IUCN 'extinction imminent' category and NatureServe assessments using expert elicitation)
10405 Ives C. D., Lentini P. E., Threlfall C. G. et al. (2016) Cities are hotspots for threatened species. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 25, 117-126. Research paper (mapped species distribution from online sources and databases).
10406 Kearney S. G., Adams V. M., Fuller R. A. et al. (2018) Estimating the benefit of well-managed protected areas for threatened species conservation. Oryx 1-9. Research paper
10407 Kearney S. G., Carwardine J., Reside A. E. et al. (2019) The threats to Australia’s imperilled species and implications for a national conservation response. Pac. Conserv. Biol. 25. Review
10408 Lintermans M. (2013) A review of on-ground recovery actions for threatened freshwater fish in Australia. Mar. Freshwater Res. 64, 775-791. Review
10409 Melville J., Chaplin K., Hutchinson M. et al. (2019) Taxonomy and conservation of grassland earless dragons: new species and an assessment of the first possible extinction of a reptile on mainland Australia. R. Soc. Open. Sci. 6, 190233. Research paper
10410 Renwick A. R., Robinson C. J., Garnett S. T. et al. (2017) Mapping Indigenous land management for threatened species conservation: An Australian case-study. PLoS One. 12, e0173876. Research paper (mapped species distribution from online sources and databases).
10411 Scheele B. C., Legge S., Armstrong D. P. et al. (2018) How to improve threatened species management: An Australian perspective. J. Environ. Manage. 223, 668-675 Review
10412 Scheele B. C., Legge S., Blanchard W. et al. (2019) Continental-scale assessment reveals inadequate monitoring for threatened vertebrates in a megadiverse country. Biol. Conserv. 235, 273-278. Review
10413 Tingley R., Macdonald S. L., Mitchell N. J. et al. (2019) Geographic and taxonomic patterns of extinction risk in Australian squamates. Biol. Conserv. 238. Review
10414 Ward M. S., Simmonds J. S., Reside A. E. et al. (2019) Lots of loss with little scrutiny: The attrition of habitat critical for threatened species in Australia. Conserv. Scien. Prac. 1. Research paper
10415 Wintle B. A., Cadenhead N. C. R., Morgain R. A. et al. (2019) Spending to save: What will it cost to halt Australia's extinction crisis? Conserv. Lett. Review
10416 Woinarski J. C. Z., Braby M. F., Burbidge A. A. et al. (2019) Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia. Biol. Conserv. 239. Review and research paper
10417 Woinarski J. C. Z., Garnett S. T., Legge S. M. et al. (2017) The contribution of policy, law, management, research, and advocacy failings to the recent extinctions of three Australian vertebrate species. Conserv. Biol. 31, 13-23. Review
10418 Woinarski J. C., Burbidge A. A. & Harrison P. L. (2015) Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement. PNAS. 112, 4531-40. Review