Animals of Arid Australia: Out on their own?
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Since European settlement there have been profound changes to the fauna of semi-arid and arid Australia. Some species have gone extinct, others have become rare or restricted in range and some have increased their range and abundance. Many, but not all, of these changes in species range and abundance have been linked to the direct and indirect impacts of pastoralism. Grazing by livestock is the main “direct” impact of pastoral activity and has resulted in widespread changes in habitat structure and a decrease in primary productivity. The loss in primary productivity may have reduced the capacity of the landscape to support some fauna species. Pastoral activities have also had indirect impacts on fauna through the establishment of pastoral infrastructure such as artificial waters and barrier fences, and pest control activities. These indirect activities have caused some species to increase in abundance and others to decrease. The widespread extinction of dingoes is likely to have exacerbated the impacts of foxes and overgrazing. Successful restoration of the arid zone fauna will require the restoration of ecological functions and species interactions, particularly nutrient cycling and predation.