Context and challenges• Australia harbours a disproportionate share of global squamate diversity (lizards andsnakes). The areas impacted by the 2019–20 wildfires comprise diverse squamatecommunities that include many threatened and narrowly distributed species.• The impact of fire on most Australian squamates is not well understood. Reptilepopulations are monitored less than any other vertebrate group, and manyspecies have unresolved taxonomy.Main findings• Very few studies have considered the effects of fire on squamate mortality orhow attributes of fire regimes affect squamates in areas impacted by the2019–20 wildfires.• The habitat of 445 squamate species from 11 families was within the footprintof the 2019–20 wildfires, representing nearly 40% of Australia’s describedspecies. This included 29 species listed as threatened nationally or globally.• One species, Kate’s leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius kateae), had its entire known(highly restricted) range burnt, but post-fire sampling indicated that thespecies persists and is breeding in the firegrounds.• Species in most need of monitoring and conservation following the 2019–20wildfires are narrowly distributed species with moderate-to-high fire overlapand traits that make them vulnerable to fire and post-fire conditions.• Assessments of within-species diversity across 14 priority species identified 19evolutionarily significant units and more than 18 management units.• Assessment of the on-ground effects of the 2019–20 wildfires is hampered by alack of long-term monitoring and investment. There is an urgent need to break acycle of chronic under-funding of reptile monitoring and conservation in Australia,particularly given the increasing prevalence of large, high severity wildfires.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Australia's Megafires
Subtitle of host publicationBiodiversity impacts and lessons from 2019-2020
EditorsLibby Rumpff, Sarah Legge, Stephen van Leeuwen, Brendan Wintle, John Woinarski
Place of PublicationClayton South VIC
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781486316663
ISBN (Print)9781486316656
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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