Presented by Professor Shawn Laffan

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales; Australian Museum, collaborator.

Invertebrate taxa such as bugs, beetles and snails, are an important but often overlooked part of the ecosystem, despite the fact that they make up 75% of terrestrial species. The bushfires of 2019/2020 resulted in 10 million burnt hectares, mostly in the forests of the Great Dividing Range of NSW - hundreds of invertebrate species were impacted. Fortunately, much of this area has been previously surveyed for invertebrates by UNSW and the Australian Museum, including a seminal survey of the North East Forests in 1993.

UNSW and the Australian Museum are now embarking on a project to develop a spatial, taxonomic and ecological information system to re-assess invertebrates in these areas, using the 1993 baseline data to determine the effect of the 2019/2020 mega-fires on these rarely studied species. This is funded by the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery program.

Project outcomes will include nomination of threatened invertebrate species, as well as selection of sites for active restoration projects. We will also link with local and indigenous communities, and partner with a citizen science project to train local communities to help monitor these species.