Hawthorne Beyer

Biodiversity risks from fossil fuel extraction

Butt, N., Beyer, H.L., Bennett, J.R., Biggs, D., Maggini, R., Mills, M., Renwick, A., Seabrook, L.M. & Possingham, H.P. 2013. Biodiversity risks from fossil fuel extraction. Science 342 (6157), 425-426.


Despite a global political commitment to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010 through the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity, declines are accelerating and threats are increasing (1). Major threats to biodiversity are habitat loss, invasion by exotic species and pathogens, and climate change, all principally driven by human activities. Although fossil fuel (FF) extraction has traditionally been seen as a temporary and spatially limited perturbation to ecosystems (2), even local or limited biodiversity loss can have large cascade effects on ecosystem function and productivity. We explore the overlap between regions of high marine and terrestrial biodiversity and FF reserves to identify regions at particular risk of ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss from exposure to FF extraction.

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Australian Research Council DECRA Research Fellow

Email: hawthorne -at- spatialecology.com or h.beyer -at- uq.edu.au


ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions &

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science &

Environmental Decisions Group,

School of Biological Sciences, Goddard Building

University of Queensland

Brisbane, Queensland 4072 Australia