Native animals are declining on Australia’s second largest island with brush-tailed rabbit-rats, black-footed tree-rats and northern brown bandicoots the worst hit.
Will Batson explains why a bettong in the bush is worth two in the hand. He also talks about the successful reintroduction of bettongs within two predator-free fenced nature reserves in the ACT and a new project to establish bettongs outside fenced reserves.
376 EPBC-listed threatened species have some part of their distribution in at least one Australian city or town, and for at least 30 of those species, that’s the only place they are found. If we are to have any success at securing their futures, we need to come up with effective strategies for their conservation in our urban spaces.
The far eastern curlew, one of the world’s largest migratory shorebirds, has declined dramatically in the last 20 years. The bird is in trouble on multiple fronts and central to addressing these challenges is a better understanding of its habitat needs and international cooperation.
Natasha Robinson believes that for research to have meaning it needs to be applied and have impact. Natasha is a TSR Hub Research Fellow at ANU, working on monitoring and adaptively managing threatened species.
Threatened species are often found in landscapes where there are competing interests and views on how things should be managed. Who are you going to call to deal with these tensions? Ecologists? Engineers? Economists? In the Victorian Central Highlands TSR Hub researchers have called in the accountants.
Last year provided us with much to be proud of and I would like to acknowledge the NESP TSR Hub’s significant contribution to the national effort. So much of this work is directly relevant to the Threatened Species Strategy and helps me make the best decisions and investments possible.
Three vertebrate species became extinct in Australia during the last decade, but these losses had no perceptible impact on our nation’s economy and weren't noticed by most people. Given this, what are the arguments for seeking to prevent the loss of species? TSR Hub Deputy Director John Woinarski responds to this question with ten justifications.
Native animals are declining on Australia’s second largest island with brush-tailed rabbit-rats, black-footed tree-rats and northern brown bandicoots the worst hit. This is one of the findings of a recent Health Check of native animals on Melville Island, 80km north of Darwin, which undertook surveys at almost 100 sites and compared them to survey results from 15 years ago.
Victoria’s faunal emblem the Leadbeater’s Possum and other species will become extinct within about 30 years unless clear-fell logging stops in Victoria’s Mountain Ash forests, new research based on 30 years of monitoring the forests has found.
Feral cats cover over 99.8% of Australia’s land area, including almost 80% of the area of our islands. These are just some of the findings of new research which looks at the number and spread of feral cats in Australia. The research was undertaken by over 40 of Australia’s top environmental scientists and brings together evidence from nearly 100 separate studies across the country.
The rare and mysterious night parrot, a plump green and gold bird, is adapted to life in the harsh arid zone, but when does it need a drink? This is a question puzzling conservation managers and the answer will be important to how they manage the small populations of the endangered parrot that have been discovered in heart of outback Queensland, near Longreach.
Strong collaborations with conservation policy makers, planners and on-ground practitioners ensure that research is addressing on-ground needs. Our research program also includes fascinating work on social and economic opportunities to conserve threatened species, including how best to engage people and communities and how traditional Indigenous and western knowledge systems can work together to better inform conservation actions.
The Martu people of the Western Desert are working to protect one of the last strongholds of the iconic bilby. TSR scientists are hoping they can help in this work by designing a monitoring program that Martu rangers can use to better understand bilby population trends over time. Anja Skroblin from the University of Melbourne describes what’s being done.
At the end of the day, species are saved by people. Saving a threatened species is a big task often requiring the effort of many people over a sustained period. The way these people organise themselves - like the rules they follow, the networks they form, the way they make decisions - is critical to the success of any species recovery program. The way people organise themselves is known as governance and Angela Guerrero is working with the TSR Hub to understand what forms of governance help a recovery effort (and what forms may hinder it.)
Conservation management works best when it is based on robust evidence. If we’re trying to manage a threatening factor, such as a pest or a weed species, we really should know how many there are, how they’re distributed, and how many we should control to make a difference. Feral cats are constantly cited as a major threat to Australia’s native wildlife, so TSR researchers look at how many are out there.
Monitoring the status and trends of threatened species is vital to informing management and policy decisions. And yet, monitoring of threatened species rarely occurs, and when it does - it is usually not carried out effectively. Why is this, and how can we remedy the situation? This was the central issue underpinning a two-day workshop that brought together 30 conservation managers, policy makers and scientists from all over Australia.
For most people, threatened species recovery is about doing something to save a threatened species – planting habitat trees, translocating individual animals and managing threats like foxes and cats. The ‘doing’ is important but what is often not seen is the organisation behind the doing. How are decisions made? Which bits of the ‘doing’ is given the priority? And how do we make sure we ‘learn’ as we ‘do’? The TSR Hub is working with the Australian Government on drawing together what we know about best practice for recovery teams.
The western swamp tortoise has all the ingredients of a fairy tale. It’s the Goldilocks of tortoises needing water that isn’t too hot but isn’t too cold to survive. It’s the Rip Van Winkle of reptiles in that it seemed to vanish from sight for over 100 years during which time it was thought extinct – but then it was rediscovered. And it’s the Houdini of endangered wildlife in that it came close to oblivion in the 1980s with numbers fewer than 50 but, thanks to concerted efforts at recovery, it escaped extinction and there are over ten times that number now.
Just a snapshot of the breadth of research taking place within out Hub was presented to a packed house of Departmental and other stakeholders in Canberra last month.
October was a busy month for TSR Hub researchers in the media, with several researchers appearing in the news – both online and on the airwaves.
Until a few years ago hardly anyone had heard of the Yellow Chats on the Kakadu floodplains. National Park staff had so many other species to worry about and none of the local birdwatchers took a special interest in it. At least this is what Gill Ainsworth found during her PhD on the social value of Australia’s threatened birds.
Three TSR Hub researchers will present their work to the 11th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference (APCC) at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne this week.
Scientists suspect that hundreds of thousands of Australian species remain undiscovered or poorly known and that many of these species are at as great a risk of extinction as those formally listed as threatened. Poorly-known but imperilled species present a formidable challenge to researchers and conservation managers for many reasons.
Fourteen feral cats captured in the wild have been re-released to measure their predation on native animals.
When the calici virus culled rabbits in 1997, the rabbits’ predators (foxes and cats) are suspected to have wiped out a population of rock-wallabies in their attempt to fill their bellies. Hugh McGregor from UTAS is researching predation pressure in an attempt to understand the native species most vulnerable to prey switching.
Researchers from Project 3.2 are currently undertaking a survey of Australian managers, professional practitioners and academics involved with threatened species monitoring to better understand the value, monitoring framework and decisions, challenges and key elements of effective threatened species monitoring in Australia.
As Australian cities and suburbs continue to expand, new developments exert pressure on the species and habitats that exist on their margins. But do smaller species stand a chance against big developers? Researchers are looking for ways to level the playing field.
“If there was an Ark for Australia's most endangered species, what animals and plants would get a berth?”
That was the question interviewer Gregg Borschmann put to the Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s Associate Professor Brendan Wintle and Professor David Keith when they took part in a panel discussion at the Australian Museum as part of National Science Week.
Dejan Stojanovic is in the field, checking on the 300+ nesting boxes he and his team spent a large part of their winter installing in known swift parrot territory.
Experienced practitioners from diverse organisations came together to discuss threatened species monitoring at the workshop entitled ‘Enhancing Monitoring for Threatened Species to Improve Conservation Outcomes.’
And perhaps the most distinctive thing about Edge Pledge is its “challenge generator” – a website that asks each user to answer a few questions to determine their personality type, then uses this information to suggest a selection of appropriate challenges. Friends and colleagues “vote” on which challenge they favour; the challenge that gains the most in donations “wins” and can shortly begin.
Rachel Morgain has recently started as Knowledge Broker with the NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub. She comes to the Hub with experience working at the interface of research and policy, through roles with the Australian Government and most recently at the Australian Academy of Science.
TSR Hub researchers Professor Hugh Possingham and Dr Elisa Bayraktarov are collaborating with James O’Connor, Glenn Ehmke and Joris Driessen from Birdlife Australia to create the “Dow Jones” for threatened species. They are creating an index that reports on annual changes in Australia’s threatened species populations.
RMIT is seeking applications for a PhD program of research to understand the ways in which communities buy-in to the idea of conservation, and the use of targeted conservation messages designed to increase community support and engagement.
Cutting-edge science that can help shape policy and management decisions and protect Australia’s threatened species will be on show at the National Portrait Gallery on Monday 17 October.
Australasian bitterns are the subject of many great mysteries – where do they go during the colder months? How do they make that famous booming call? Could they really be the source of inspiration behind Australia’s mythical Bunyip tales?
Little is known about the impact of the diseases carried by invasive species that spread throughout the food chains of our native animals. TSR Hub researcher Dr Nelika Hughes from The University of Melbourne is looking closely at one such disease – toxoplasmosis – a parasitic disease that was introduced to Australia in cats.
Australia is home to thousands of unique plant species, yet faces many challenges in protecting them.
University of Queensland post-doctoral research fellow Jennifer Silcock is interviewing threatened-plant experts nationwide to determine which plants should be placed on the Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s national Red Hot List.
Twenty-four western swamp tortoises hit the headlines last month as they settled in to new homes in swamps south of Perth.
The tortoises were moved to a new range in an attempt to protect the species from the effects of climate change and their story featured in several news outlets including the ABC, Science magazine, the Guardian and Australian Geographic
A new national plant translocation database could be on the horizon, after researchers gathered to map out the sources of existing translocation data at a recent workshop.
Increasing collaboration across the Hub was a feature of the annual project leaders’ meeting held in Brisbane last month. Each of the project leaders presented a short synopsis on the progress of their research, and the ideas and conversations each sparked were significant.
Western swamp tortoises have been translocated to a reserve south of their historic range in an attempt to negate the likely impact of climate change. It is the first time in Australia that a vertebrate species has been translocated in anticipation of climate change..
Hundreds of thousands of Australian species are so poorly known that their risk of extinction cannot be determined.
These species cannot be categorised as threatened or not under Australia’s EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act, and are therefore afforded no conservation protection under the legislation.
The Australian National University is seeking applications from candidates for a PhD program of research on the spatial genetic structure and population dynamics of the eastern bristlebird at Booderee National Park in NSW.
The Australian National University is seeking applications for a PhD program of research on the ecological requirements of frogs in human modified landscapes in New South Wales and Victoria.
Researchers from the TSR Hub’s Project 3.3 will establish as many as 41 malleefowl monitoring sites across southern Australia, in one of the largest adaptive management experiments ever attempted in Australia.
PhD student Billy Ross is using motion-sensing camera traps to establish baseline data on the number of northern quolls and feral cats in the Pilbara to determine whether cat-baiting can prevent the threatened mammals’ extinction.
Anticipating the threats posed by cane toads to the islands of Western Australia’s Kimberley region, improving outcomes for threatened sea turtles and seabirds on the Whitsunday islands, and the challenges and opportunities of rewilding Dirk Hartog Island were just a few of the critical discussions held at a recent TSR Hub workshop.
A survey of Australia’s feral cat managers will ensure that all efforts to control Australia’s feral cat population are being captured.
Genetic translocations may hold the key to protecting Australia’s frogs from the effects of climate change, according to TSR Hub researcher and The University of Western Australia PhD student Tabitha Rudin.
Three Tasmanian birds perch atop the list of Australia’s most threatened birds, as revealed by a TSR Hub team comprising researchers from Charles Darwin University and The University of Melbourne.
One of the things that struck Dr Anja Skroblin at the inaugural Ninu (Bilby) Festival was the connection between communities from opposite ends of the country, through ancient stories and songlines about bilbies.
Using the knowledge accumulated through a recent workshop, TSR Hub experts will help environmental managers to better understand the refuges Australian threatened species need to survive the threats posed by climate change, drought, fires, predators and other threats.
Hopes are high for eleven southern brown bandicoots being reintroduced to Booderee National Park – the endangered marsupials haven’t been seen in the area since World War One.
Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have found the current management practices in the Mountain Ash forests of Victoria’s Central Highlands don’t stack up economically.
Representatives from a broad range of environmental organisations used a recent workshop to define what end-users and partners want from a threatened species index, and to determine how such an index could be created.
Professor John Woinarski delivered the keynote speech to attendees of The Western Port Biosphere’s second annual Biodiversity Forum at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne.
Australia will soon have it first ever genetic guidelines to support the relocation of threatened animals, after a recent TSR Hub workshop in Perth.
Innovative tracking technology will help environmental managers to develop a whole new understanding of how far critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possums travel each night and how their habitats can best be managed.
A changing climate means that by 2070 koalas may no longer call large parts of inland Australia home, researchers have found.
Peter Vesk’s team is protecting more than individual species – they’re working to conserve habitats that house entire communities of threatened species.
While local communities can play an important role in threatened species recovery, and scientists make significant efforts to involve locals in recovery efforts, there isn’t yet a lot of science around the best way to engage them.
Hungry herbivores, fungal diseases and long hot summers are just a few of the challenges land managers face when attempting to re-introduce a threatened plant species.
Threatened plants tend to receive less attention than threatened animals and, while work to recover them is ongoing, there’s a serious risk that further declines could go unnoticed until it’s too late.
Places such as islands, river channel regions of the desert and small-scale rock outcrops can offer critical protection for threatened species populations when times get tough.
Sugar gliders in Tasmania are having a devastating impact on the swift parrot population, and they could be detrimental to other threatened bird species as well.
Researcher profile: Diana Fisher
Dr Fisher has dedicated two decades to the study of mammals, including threatened species of carnivorous marsupials, wallabies and bats that most people know little about.
Australia’s Malleefowl population has declined and more conclusive data will soon be available to explain why, following recent workshops in Perth and Mildura.
The TSR Hub will conduct the first landscape-scale experiment investigating the effect of predator-baiting programs on Malleefowl populations.
A series of elegant watermarks have been created by science communicator and illustrator Michelle Baker, to reflect the major themes of the TSR Hub and will be integrated into future publications.
The six watermarks, inspired by science and nature, provide a thematic or conceptual link between each image and its corresponding Hub theme.
Australian islands have a vital role to play in protecting threatened species. By providing predator-free, relatively low-pressure environments, islands can act as sanctuaries for species at risk on the mainland.
They also present novel conservation challenges and opportunities, and better information is needed on how to most effectively protect Australia’s island biodiversity.
Australian environmental authorities will adopt a unified approach to combat myrtle rust, in the hope of preventing the devastating disease from spreading to Western Australia.
The need for a more coordinated response was raised in a recent national workshop coordinated by the TSR Hub in April, amid concerns that previous efforts have been sporadic and ineffective.
What do the endangered western swamp tortoise (WA), pigmy bluetongue lizard (SA) and eastern bristlebird (NSW) have in common?
They might all be extinct were it not for the efforts of dedicated threatened-species recovery teams.
When species are threatened by development such as urban growth or mining, environmental offsets are often used to help counterbalance the impact.
Whether it’s reducing hospital queues, improving social equity or recovering threatened species, taxpayers need to know their investment is producing results.
Sometimes the hardest part of protecting threatened species is knowing where to look, how to look, or how to listen, or when to launch a drone.
The NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub is offering top-up funding for a current PhD student to research the role of communications in building community buy-in and support for ‘non-charismatic species,’ as part of Project 6.3.
Seeking applications from highly qualified and motivated candidates for a PhD program of research on the ecological impacts of cat eradication on Christmas Island.
Indigenous communities play a crucial role in Australian conservation for a number of reasons – the first being that numerous threatened species live on lands they own and manage.
More than 8000 islands surround Australia’s coast - from tropical to temperate to sub-Antarctic climates; from large populated islands to tiny uninhabited offshore rocks.
Australia has had remarkable success with saving species otherwise doomed to extinction – including the Kangaroo Island Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Norfolk Island Green Parrot and Gilbert’s Potoroo.
As part of the National Environmental Science Programme, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s first full research plan has been ratified after the approval of Research Plan (Version 2).
Threatened Species Recovery Hub researchers presented at the recent Species on the Move International Conference in Hobart, including Hub Director Hugh Possingham.
Australia will soon have a framework to design a national network of ‘safe havens’ for threatened mammals, following a recent workshop with 24 leading conservation specialists from federal and state governments, NGOs and academia.
The involvement of deputy directors Sarah Legge and John Woinarski in the Threatened Species Commissioner’s Feral Cat Taskforce is another example of the Hub contributing significantly to threatened species policy and management.
Research outputs from Project 2.1 formed an important part of the Minister for the Environment’s Threatened Species Strategy, and supported the listing of 20 threatened birds and 20 threatened mammals as targets for priority conservation actions.
This project will assess how this seabird community has responded to the eradication of feral vertebrates and their role in the broader ecosystem recovery after decades of feral animal impacts.
An exciting opportunity to join the Threatened Species Recovery Hub and work towards improving the outcomes of Australia's threatened species and ecological communities.
The Christmas Island Flying Fox population has declined by approximately 35% over the last six years and we need to know why.
An opportunity is available for a PhD student to examine how the endangered bridled nailtail wallaby and other mammals respond to new methods of cat control at Taunton National Park and other sites.
The University of Queensland (UQ) is offering Two PhD Top-Up Scholarships.
Applications are open for two PhD top-up scholarships, offered through the University of Western Australia.
Unfortunately Christmas Island’s extremely unique ecosystem has experienced recent extinctions, with more species under threat.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s Project 2.1 will work to ensure that policy makers and project managers have more reliable and up to date information about species closest to extinction.
Australia is one of the most fire prone continents on earth and our influence on fire regimes plays an important role in the ecology of our flora and fauna.
Feral predators such as cats and foxes have caused the extinction of many native mammals and remain the most serious threat to the remaining mammal species - especially when combined with mismanaged fire and introduced herbivores.
Social research under the National Environmental Science Programme’s Threatened Species Recovery Hub was under discussion at a workshop of key researchers held in Darwin last month.