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High fire frequency and the impact of the 2019–2020 megafires on Australian plant diversity

posted on 2022-06-10, 02:44 authored by Rachael GallagherRachael Gallagher, Stuart Allen, Berin MacKenzie, Colin Yates, Gosper Carl, David Keith, Cory Merow, Matthew White, Elizabeth Wenk, Brian Maitner, Kang He, Vanessa Adams, Tony Auld, Rachael V. Gallagher, Berin D. E. Mackenzie, Colin J. Yates, Carl R. Gosper, David A. Keith, Matthew D. White, Brian S. Maitner, Vanessa M. Adams, Tony D. Auld
This dataset details the proportion of the geographic range of 26,062 Australian plant species burnt in the 2019-2020 megafire; threatened listing status on state and Commonwealth threatened species legislation; species endemic status in each state/territory according to the Australian Plant Census; and risk ranking for exposure to high fire frequency (short intervals between fires) and cumulative impacts of fire (populations dominated by immature individuals). Further details are provided in the users should consult and cite the associated paper:  Gallagher, R.V., Allen, S., MacKenzie, B.D.E., Yates, C.D., Gosper C.R, Keith, D.A., 29 Merow, C., White, M., Wenk, E., Maitner, B.S., He, K., Adams, V.M. & Auld, T.D. (2021) High fire frequency and the impact of the 2019-2020 megafires on Australian plant diversity. Diversity & Distributions.

Usage Notes

Species names were listed as accepted in the Australian Plant Census as of July 2020. Range data was sourced from three lines of evidence: (1) cleaned occurrence data (latitude-longitude point locations) associated with digitised herbarium specimens accessed from the Australasian Virtual Herbarium ( via the Atlas of Living Australia Application Programming Interface ( in July 2020; (2) range mapping built from Poisson Point Process models, range bagging and area of occurrence (AOO) calculations; and (3) maps for Species of National Environmental Significance (SNES) for species listed on the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) available from the SPRAT database ( Details of the building of range models are available in the paper associated with this dataset. The spatial extent of the 2019-2020 fires was quantified using the National Indicative Aggregated Fire Extent Dataset (NIAFED; Geographic ranges were intersected with the NIAFED dataset and proportion of burnt range is reported in the columns: "Proportion of range map burnt", "Proportion of SNES range map burnt (EPBC Act species only) ", and "Proportion of point locations burnt".  Exposure to high fire frequency and the cumulative fire risk rankings were created by intersecting ranges with fire history data for the last 5 years (non-woody species), 15 years (woody species) and 50 years (rainforest trees) and trait data on fire response. Species level data on growth form and fire response traits (resprouter, obligate seeder) were sourced from the AusTraits database ( The annual spatial extent of fires between September-March between 1969-2018 was quantified by combining data from remote sensing and state agency fire history databases. Remotely sensed data on fire extent in each season between 2003 and 2016 was accessed from the Global Fire Atlas and – using the same methods – fire extent data was created for the 2017 and 2018 seasons using imagery from the MODIS product (MCD64A1). Alternate data on annual fire history were accessed under license from environment agency databases in three Australian states – New South Wales (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Fire History – Wildfire and Prescribed Burns dataset, Western Australia (Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Fire History dataset (1969-2020)), and Victoria (Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Fire History dataset). Methods for assigning species ranks are provided in Gallagher (2020) All correspondence about the dataset should be directed to Additional data about fire impacts and threat interactions, as well as code for anlayses, are also available.


National Science Foundation : DBI 1565046

National Science Foundation : HDR 1934712


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  • Unassessed

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  • General



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