I talk a lot (a LOT) about the fact that threatened species can be found in our cities and towns. The most common response I get is “Which ones and where?”
Now you can explore for yourself, with our “Threatened Species in Urban Areas” online database. The interactive map includes the locations of 376 federally-listed threatened plants and animals across 98 Australian cities and towns.
The webpage, which you can find here http://www.nespurban.edu.au/data/threatened-species/, is based on work by researchers at the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environmental Science Programme.
What can I learn?
You can use the search bar to look up your home town, or just explore by clicking on the markers for each city. For every location, it will bring up a list of all the threatened species that:
- have been recorded recently (e.g. since the year 2000)
- have been recorded within 2-km of the town boundary
- were historically present but haven’t been seen in a long time.
Clicking on the species name will take you to the Atlas of Living Australia, to see more information about the species.
Which cities and towns are included?
We looked at cities and towns that had a population of more than 10,000. The list includes 98 places across Australia, from Melbourne to Broome, Perth to Tamworth, and Darwin to Dalby. That’s not to say that threatened species don’t occur in other towns, but this list is a good representation of some of our urban areas.
What type of species are included?
We focused on federally-listed threatened plants and animals – those covered by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC, for short). The idea behind focusing on EPBC-listed species was partly an exercise in myth-busting. Most people tend to think that only common species can survive in urban areas, and our research shows that this just isn’t true. Of course, there are many other wonderful species that live in urban areas that might be listed at the state level, or not listed at all. But by focusing on threatened species, we hope to highlight that cities and towns are important places for conservation.
What does it mean if a species has been recorded in my town?
Plants and animals use urban areas in a lot of different ways. Some might be permanent residents, living alongside us in our backyards, parklands or waterways. Others might just pop in for a rest and a feed during their yearly migration. The bottom line is that all of these species use the cities as a resource in one way or another. By knowing which threatened species occur where, we’re better placed to take actions in cities that will help conserve them.
How to learn more?
- Read the paper by Ives and Lentini et al (2015) in Global Ecology and Biogeography
- Check out the kids version by Earth Science Journal for Kids
- This article in The Guardian
- Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org)