Around 1 billion animals may now have perished in Australia’s devastating wildfire season, ecologists estimated this week.
Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, initially calculated last week that 480 million animals had died in the fires, a number he and his colleagues arrived at by using calculations from previous studies of mammal density and the acres of vegetation burned.
Now, Dickman says that his initial estimate was too low, as it only calculated loss in the state of New South Wales and did not include bats, frogs and insects.
“We know that Australian biodiversity has been going down over the last several decades, and it’s probably fairly well known that Australia’s got the world’s highest rate of extinction for mammals,” Dickman told CBS. “It’s events like this that may well hasten the extinction process for a range of other species. So, it’s a very sad time.”