An exciting new tool called the Threatened Species Index offers a window into how threatened species are faring and if our collective conservation efforts are stacking up for imperilled wildlife. The index has been made possible through unprecedented collaboration and data-sharing by over 40 research partners led by The University of Queensland, working closely with BirdLife Australia.
Endangered forty-spotted pardalote nestlings are falling prey to the larvae of a blood-feeding fly parasite. Researcher Fernanda Alves, reports on experiments that encourage forty-spotted pardalotes to ‘self-fumigate’ their nests by incorporating chicken feathers treated with a bird-safe insecticide.
Fish need to move to find food, escape predators and reach suitable habitat for reproduction. Dams, weirs and culverts can create barriers that fragment habitats, isolating fish populations. An Australian innovation, however, promises to help dwindling fish populations in Australia and worldwide.
What influences where birds choose to nest? About 15% of Australian birds, or 114 species, need tree hollows for breeding or shelter. The number of hollow-bearing trees is declining due to timber harvesting and development.
Paruku Indigenous Rangers and elders recently hosted a workshop on night parrots for other rangers and conservation groups from the southern Kimberley and northern Western Deserts. The TSR Hub’s Nick Leseberg from The University of Queensland went along to learn from the rangers about the night parrot population in the Great Sandy Desert, the Paruku Rangers’ work with the bird, and to share findings from his research on the bird in western Queensland.
Once upon a time, not that long ago, Australia hosted an abundance of digging mammals like boodies, bilbies and potoroos. With the loss of these species from many parts of the landscape comes the loss of the work they did as ecosystem engineers.
The world is changing. Some of this change is planned and desirable. But much else is an unwanted consequence of the expansion of the human species. Those unwanted impacts will affect our lives and those of our descendants.
After undergraduate majors in Geography, Environmental Science and Botany, I did my PhD on native grasslands. I was struck by how these Critically Endangered ecosystems existing right on the edge of my city were being lost without most people even knowing about them – or understanding what amazing, super diverse ecosystems they are.
The noisy miner is a threat to many other bird species, but culling them is no solution, according to new research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environmental Science Program.
‘Havens’ free of feral cats and foxes have already prevented 13 mammal extinctions in Australia, and supported improved conservation for many other species. Havens are cat and fox free islands and fenced areas.
New research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has shown that invasive or pest species are a problem for 1,257 threatened species in Australia, or about four out of five species.
New research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has identified the top 100 Australian plant species at risk of extinction. Dr Jennifer Silcock from the University of Queensland said three quarters of Australia’s threatened species are plants.
Citizen scientist residents are working with researchers to survey urban gardens in Albany and Bunbury for mammals in January and February. They hope to find critically endangered western ringtail possums.
Reports by The Courier-Mail that the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is an anti-coal activist group involved in a review of Adani coal mine environmental plans are totally incorrect.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is hosting a biodiversity horizon summit on 1 March in Melbourne. The summit will bring individuals together from across sectors with a stake in biodiversity matters, to develop horizon thinking that transcends individual sectoral perspectives and positions.
New research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has identified invasive species as the no. 1 threat to Australian biodiversity with habitat loss a close second.
Your small local patch of bushland could be playing a much bigger role in conserving biodiversity than you think. A global study just published in PNAS looked at the conservation values of vegetation patches in 27 countries on four continents including Australia, and considered their size and distance to other habitat.
The exceptionally long-beaked far eastern curlew is the world’s largest migratory shorebird. It is also one of the most well-travelled. This globe-trotting bird was listed as Critically Endangered in Australia in 2016, with its numbers in rapid decline since it was first listed as Least Concern in 2004.
A new video summarises the findings of a University of Queensland PhD project on northern quolls in the Pilbara. Once found all the way from Brisbane to the Pilbara, quolls are now listed nationally and internationally as Endangered, and are restricted to just a few isolated populations, mostly on rocky habitats.
On average, populations of Australia’s threatened birds have decreased by half since 1985, according to Australia’s new Threatened Bird Index.
Many researchers in, and stakeholders of, our Hub have long expressed concern about the loss of biodiversity in Australia. Recently, this concern has been recognised by politicians as a national problem, with the Australian Senate currently holding an Inquiry into ‘Australia’s faunal extinction crisis’.
New research led by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has revealed which mammals are most vulnerable to cats and foxes, and many much-loved potoroos, bandicoots and bettongs, as well as native rodents, are at the top of the list.
The University of Melbourne and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub are offering opportunities for Indigenous students to do PhDs on research in conservation and management of biodiversity, and threatened species.
Since my early childhood I have had a keen interest in wildlife. A fascination from my school years with aquatic life and maintaining aquariums is a passion held to the current day. As a child, I read numerous books on nature and wildlife and was fascinated by wildlife biologists and their conservation work.
People are often quite surprised to hear that relatively common plant species can be threatened and in trouble. But many species were once so widespread and abundant, that although they are still relatively easy to find, their numbers are only a tiny fraction of what they once were. So it is with many eucalypts. Although many of these icons of the bush have hugely declined, very few are listed as threatened and this prevents them getting the protection and conservation attention they need. Rod Fensham from the University of Queensland and the Queensland Herbarium is leading a new project to tackle this challenge.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is a world leader in endangered native orchid conservation, growing and reintroductions, and is giving new hope to species that seemed doomed to extinction. However, the outlook for our many threatened leek orchids (Prasophyllum) has not improved in recent years. With dozens of leek orchid species dwindling rapidly toward extinction, time is running out for PhD candidate Marc Freestone from the Australian National University and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria to work out how to grow them. He takes up the story.
Translocation is a very important tool in the fight against plant extinctions. Knowing when to do translocations, how to do them and how to measure their success can be a complicated business, especially considering the huge range of threatened plants in Australia. So where do you find the answers? Luckily, they are now all in one place, in new guidelines that will be a game changer for plant translocation. Dr Lucy Commander lets us know what is on offer.
It was once possible to walk from Melbourne to Sydney through almost continuous grassy woodland. Today most of these temperate woodlands have gone. A team at The Australian National University have been studying woodland restoration and management for the past 20 years and have recently embarked on a series of new experiments to investigate bird breeding success, noisy miner control, hollow supplementation and wildflower translocation. Dr Damian Michael provides an update on their latest research findings and activities.
In Biblical times, Noah made a plan to secure the Earth’s creatures during the almighty flood. He loaded seven pairs of the most valued land animals and birds, and one pair of everything else, onto his Ark. In Australia today, mammal conservationists also need to plan for floods – but not of water, rather of introduced predators. With a bit of systematic planning, havens could serve as modern-day arks for threatened species. Sarah Legge has a story to tell.
Threatened plants tend to receive less attention than threatened animals, even though they make up 72% of all threatened species listed under national law. To draw attention to our species in trouble, a TSR Hub project has identified the top 100 Australian plant species at greatest risk of extinction. We’ve also identified the 21 types or groups of plants under greatest threat. Jen Silcock from The University of Queensland talks about the findings.
We are offering an honours project looking at feral cats in two national parks. The student will analyse spatial data to quantify and compare home range, habitat use, and activity times of feral cats at both sites, and interpret these data in terms of risks to threatened species at the sites (bridled nailtail wallabies, bilbies, and others), and ecology and control of invasive predators.
The gnawing question ‘what if we had known earlier...?’ is a recurring theme of frustration and failure in much conservation biology – as it is in human experience generally. When recognition of the imminence of a serious and irretrievable loss is belated, opportunities for better outcomes are fatally lost.
Threatened Species Recovery Hub researcher profile.
Fifteen tiny quoll pouch-young have been born to three female eastern quolls from a pioneer group of 20 animals released into Booderee National Park. In a big win for the reintroduction project, these are the first eastern quolls known to be born in the wild on the Australian mainland for more than 50 years.
Fifteen years of comprehensive biodiversity monitoring in Booderee National Park has revealed a major ecological surprise: localised collapses of populations of many of the park’s mammal species over the period. At many long-term sites across the park, the number of native mammals almost halved between 2003 and 2016.
The spotted tree frog is facing twin threats from chytridiomycosis and predation on tadpoles by non-native fish. While the research team is seeking sites that are refuges from these threats for translocations, they are also celebrating partnering with the recreational fishing community for the protection of the spotted tree frog. Matt West from the University of Melbourne describes some of the challenges and achievements in conserving this threatened frog.
Monitoring the nests of endangered species of cockatoos has not always been practical using traditional methods. However, new bioacoustic methods are now being applied to the monitoring of two endangered sub-species of cockatoo in southern Australia, the south-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoo and the Kangaroo Island glossy black-cockatoo. Daniella Teixeira, PhD candidate at The University of Queensland, takes up the story.
Mouse-sized carnivorous marsupial the Endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart has only rarely been seen in the past 20 years. TSR Hub researcher Rosemary Hohnen is on the job working with local partners to develop better monitoring methods for the elusive species, and to evaluate the impact of feral cats on its persistence. Here she gives us a taste of the action, and despite the tiny size of the mammal there is a lot of heavy lifting…
The Tiwi Islands are one of the last regions in Australia with an intact mammal community, but they may be showing the first indications of decline. This is a major concern for Tiwi Islands Traditional Owners. Hub researcher Hugh Davies talks about the findings of recent surveys and new collaborative research.
Protected areas alone are not enough to save Australia’s threatened species, according to research from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. The research team, led by UQ PhD candidate Stephen Kearney, investigated major threats facing threatened species and considered how protected areas could alleviate such threats.
A research team from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has made a breakthrough that could help dwindling numbers of Australian freshwater fish species. Dr Jabin Watson from the University of Queensland says the innovation will allow small and young fish to get past barriers like culverts.
Scientists from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria are in a race against time to save some of Australia’s most endangered native orchids.
A collaborative research project between the Northern Territory Government and Parks Australia has found that feral cat exclosures have a positive impact on local reptile populations.
Most people know that cats kill many birds and mammals, but they also have impacts on less charismatic species. Australian cats are killing about 650 million reptiles per year, according to new research published in the journal Wildlife Research.
Australia is losing large old hollow-bearing trees in our mountain ash forests due to logging, fires and climate change. A team at the Australian National University have been investigating the importance of these trees, the implications of their loss and things we can do to ensure we have enough mountain giants for the future.
The Hub’s far eastern curlew project team has tagged a bird travelling as far as North Korea this year. Along with other recent discoveries, the Darwin-based project is succeeding in its aim of closing significant knowledge gaps in the breeding habits and migratory movement of the bird. Amanda Lilleyman provides an update on their latest research findings and activities.
You have to be pretty lucky to make a living by combining your passion and interests, and that’s exactly how Dr Daniel White feels about his current state of affairs. Dan began his career studying genes, and has since applied his science to saving species. Here he describes how.
The development frontier is where decisions on new land developments are made. It’s a space where conflicts between biodiversity and multi-tenure land-use needs are constantly encountered. However, it’s also where ecological knowledge has some of its greatest potential to reduce biodiversity losses by guiding development to locations and practices with the least negative impact.
A new contagious fungal plant disease has entered Australia, myrtle rust. It’s highly mobile, can reproduce rapidly and is infecting many species across a broad geographic range. Containment and eradication responses have so far been unsuccessful.
As Australia recovers from another sizzling summer, have you ever wondered how our native animals get by when the going gets really tough? TSR Hub researchers from our refuges project are putting a lot of thought into that very question, they also organised a refuges symposium at the last Ecological Society of Australia conference. Here they talk about some exciting new findings in this space.
Glossy black-cockatoos on Kangaroo Island eat just one thing – seeds of the drooping she-oak. To provide enough food for their nestlings, breeding adults spend the entire day picking one cone after another until their crop is full with about 10,000 of the protein rich kernels.
The TSR Hub recognises that outcomes for threatened species will be improved by increasing Indigenous involvement in their management. In response to this, the Hub is guided by an Indigenous Reference Group and has a number of projects across Australia that are collaborating with Indigenous groups on threatened species research on their country.
While media reports often focus on the doom and gloom of species sliding to extinction, it is important to also take note of where we are succeeding. Hub Deputy Director Professor Stephen Garnett talks about the importance of learning from conservation successes and celebrating how far we have come.
Given the vital importance of monitoring in the fight against extinctions, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has released a national assessment of Australia's monitoring. The assessment has found that overall, over a third of Australia's threatened animals received no monitoring at all, and where monitoring does exist, it is often inadequate, putting many species at risk.
The TSR Hub has gathered monitoring experts, and managers who need and use monitoring information, from all over Australia to discuss the value of, and many challenges involved in, monitoring threatened biodiversity. This had led to a national assessment of the adequacy of threatened species monitoring in Australia, a framework to guide and assess monitoring programs and a new authoritative book.
Ten Australian birds and seven mammals are likely to become extinct over the next twenty years, if we continue with current management, according to new research. The new research has also identified the top 20 Australian mammals and 20 Australian birds at greatest risk of extinction over the next 20 years.
No species is too small, too ugly or too remote to be beyond saving, according to a national compilation and review of almost 50 successful examples of threatened species recovery in Australia. The review has just been published...
We are offering an opportunity to undertake a PhD that will improve conservation outcomes for the northern bettong by investigating the ecological impacts of cat predation and fire. Based at the University of Queensland and jointly supervised by Qld State Government staff. Come and join the TSR Hub team.
In recent months you may have noticed some energetic public debate about what is the biggest threat to threatened species in Australia. Is it feral cats and foxes or is it the clearing and degradation of native vegetation?
Dr Natalie Briscoe’s childhood fascination with wildlife led to a career in analysing what it takes for a species to persist in a changing climate, and how this understanding helps identify what they need as refuge.
The vast brigalow forest that extended from northern New South Wales to southern Queensland has been cleared in the space of 60 years and it seems that many species have become threatened as a result. Rod Fensham and co-workers have identified the plant species that are likely to have become threatened and many of these species were not previously recognised as imperilled.
What happens when your efforts to save one threatened species creates a new problem involving another species of conservation concern. Suddenly you’re faced with some difficult choices. Helena Bowler at the University of Western Australia explains here the unexpected complication that arose when fencing was put up to save endangered turtles from foxes.
Conservation managers considering the implementation of nest boxes programs need to give careful consideration to design, colour, placement and shade profile of nest boxes.
Rachel Robbins from the Australian National University continues her series on our successes and failures with nest boxes.
Rachel Robbins from the Australian National University continues her series on our successes and failures with nest boxes.
Many of our threatened birds and arboreal mammals rely on tree hollows for nesting, but because we've cleared most of our big, old trees, these hollows are in short supply. Nest boxes are commonly proposed as an alternative, but do they actually provide an appropriate housing solution for our threatened species? Rachel Robbins from the Australian National University our successes and failures with nest boxes.
Foxes and feral cats pose a serious threat to over 100 native Australian mammals, birds and reptiles. Controlling fox and feral-cat populations is therefore crucial to the survival of many native species. Usually, it’s the government who undertakes this management which means it’s the general public who pays. But has anyone ever bothered to ask the general public what they think about fox and cat control? Actually, Vandana Subroy and colleagues at the University of Western Australia have just investigated this very question. Here Vandana discusses what they found.
Rocky habitats are critical to many small mammals and reptiles in farming landscapes but they don’t get the same attention as native vegetation. Dr Damian Michael from The Australian National University hopes to set that right. Here he explains why protecting rocky outcrops and bushrock is important, how this critical resource is being destroyed, and what measures need to be taken to improve habitat for threatened reptiles in agricultural landscapes.
One of Northern Australia’s rarest animals will be helped by a new monitoring technique developed by a Charles Darwin University research student. Butler’s Dunnart, discovered by famous adventurer Harry Butler in 1965, is so rare it was only seen 8 times in the next 37 years.
There are many strong and conflicting views about native forest logging in the Victorian Central Highlands, so where do policy makers begin? Two new videos look at an environmental economic accounting analysis for the region, including the value of different industries.
A new video looks at TSR Hub research in the Pilbara, which is looking at how Northern Quolls are responding to a large scale feral cat baiting program by WA Parks and Wildlife and RioTinto.
New Hub research has quantified the extent of predation by cats on Australia’s birds and identified the species and types of birds most vulnerable to cats. The team found that cats kill over 1 million birds per day in Australia. The total is made up of an estimated 316 million birds killed by feral cats and 61 million killed by pet cats each year.
Sound recorders have been installed across farm land in south-western Victoria and on Kangaroo Island in research to help threatened glossy black-cockatoos and south-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoos, by learning more about their breeding.
The TSR Hub is one of six National Environmental Science Programme hubs and each is making its own important contribution to the national effort to recover our threatened species. Hub Director Brendan Wintle takes a look beyond the TSR Hub to highlight the good work being done on threatened species by our sister hubs.
As cats and foxes have spread across Australia, islands have prevented the extinctions of several mammals like the boodie. Associate Professor Sarah Legge discusses the importance of safe havens and also summarizes the highlights of a recent 'safe-haven' symposium held at the International Mammalogy Congress in Perth.
Endangered Buloke Woodlands were cleared over much of their original range, the largest remaining remnants now lie inside national parks. Park managers hoped that by removing livestock the Woodlands would regenerate naturally but, so far, this has failed to happen. Dr David Duncan's team have taken on the problem.
On sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island a multi-million dollar eradication program removed cats in 2000 and rabbits, rats and mice in 2013. In the aftermath of this effort, beautiful things are emerging. Dr Justine Shaw is leading a TSR Hub project to learn from this experience and monitor how ecosystems respond.
Critically endangered Swift Parrots are headed for a massacre by Sugar Gliders in Tasmania, but ANU scientists have developed new technology that can stop it. They are racing against the clock to raise funds to roll out the new technology to nest boxes in the breeding area.
Feral cats kill 316 million birds and pet cats kill 61 million birds in Australia every year. This equates to cats killing more than 1 million Australian birds every day. More than 99% of these casualties are native birds.
A love for Australia’s wildlife lies at the core of our nation’s identity. It sustains our wellbeing. That is something that Dr Leonie Valentine can personally attest to as her passion for wildlife has helped her through good times and bad. Here she explains how.
Dr Mike Smith joined the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) as a Regional Ecologist just as the organisation was kicking off a major conservation program to re-establish 10 regionally extinct mammal species in the south west of WA, an exciting time to come on board. The area they were being released into is an exclosure site set up by the AWC at Mt Gibson. Here he shares a few of the trials and tribulations of working with threatened species – and the exhilaration of seeing some of Australia’s most imperilled animals bounce back.
People have transported, cultivated, tended, used, celebrated and worshipped plants for tens of thousands of years. Sometimes our efforts led to a few species doing very well. Most of the time, however, our interactions have caused the diversity of plant life to shrink – through habitat loss and fragmentation, disease, weeds and overgrazing. Now we’ve started moving plants around to safeguard their survival. Indeed, we’ve been doing this for decades but so far we haven’t reviewed what we know about this process. But that’s about to change. Dr Jen Silcock from the University of Queensland provides an overview on the effort to build a new translocation database.
Whilst the bulk of the research undertaken by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub deals with individual species, the Hub’s work also encompasses Threatened Ecological Communities.
Ecological communities – you might like to think of them as ecosystems – are assemblages of species that occur and interact together, and will have co-evolved together, in a particular area typically defined by soil, rainfall and geomorphology.
There is no other species of Australian bird that quickens the pulse of professional ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers alike, as the night parrot. In the 170 years since its discovery, the night parrot has attained legendary status as a ghost of the vast arid inland. Several sightings (and findings) in recent years have revealed the parrot is far from being a ghost, but a dearth of information on the bird makes it hard to plan for its persistence into the future. Nick Leseberg from the University of Queensland brings us up to date on what is known about the night parrot, and what is planned for its conservation.
Low numbers of Eastern Barred Bandicoots in Victoria have resulted in low genetic diversity which is a threat to plans to rebuild numbers in breeding programs. A new partnership is addressing the issue with an innovative breeding program which is introducing Tasmanian genes to the Victorian population.
Booderee National Park is welcoming the return of locally extinct mammals. Long-nosed potoroos and southern brown bandicoots have already been reintroduced to Booderee after being locally extinct for up to a century, and now preparations are underway to welcome a third threatened species, the eastern quoll, back to the park.
Tiny sound recorders will be set up near the nests of South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, as part of ground-breaking research to monitor the nesting habits of the endangered species.
In only 60 years Australia has lost over 90% of a type of forest that once covered 130,000 square kilometres, and could be losing plants with important medicinal uses.
We are offering a terrific opportunity for a student interested in environmental and economic accounting to undertake a PhD program at the Australian National University.
We are offering an exciting opportunity to undertake a PhD program at the University of Queensland on strategic decision-making approaches for the conservation of the Christmas Island flying fox
We are offering two exciting opportunities to undertake PhD programs at The Australian National University. The scope of potential research is broad, but must have a clear focus on the ecology and conversation of threatened species in south-eastern Australia.
Experts from across the country recently met to review the national guidelines for plant translocation. The important conservation technique is much more than just planting trees, a point well illustrated by work to save the Mellblom's Spider-orchid which has hinged on wasps.
Two of the most successful captive breeding programs in Australia’s history have brought the Lister’s gecko and blue-tailed skink back from the brink of extinction. The TSR Hub is now working with Parks Australia to investigate options for the reptiles beyond captive breeding.
A unique business-research summit was staged in the heart of Melbourne earlier this year to identify and explore emerging business opportunities that also have benefits for threatened-species conservation.
Around 5% or 1150 of Australia's plants are endangered or critically endangered. Dr Jen Silcock is developing a Red Hot List to identify the Australian plants at greatest risk of extinction and what we can do about it.
Finding opportunities in business that are good for biodiversity and where biodiversity can be good for business, could be the key to creating positive outcomes for threatened species and businesses alike.
At a minimum, citizen science can get people thinking about nature, but it can achieve much more as well. Dr Rochelle Steven talks about what we can gain from citizen science programs and the development of a framework that maximises positive impacts for nationally-listed threatened species.
A feral cat eradication program on Kangaroo Island, commencing in August 2017, will endeavour to provide an insight into the status of the endangered KI dunnart. It is hoped the program will secure a future for the dunnart along with other threatened species on the island.
Does the loss of protective understory after prescribed forest fires, make it easier for foxes and feral cats to hunt native mammals?
Dr Damian Michael has worked with over 500 landholders to help conserve threatened species and ecological communities. He talks about his upbringing, career and the satisfaction he gets from working with farming communities and volunteer groups.
Focusing on the rate and magnitude of species declines can miss important aspects about why species are declining, but this information could be crucial for effective management.
While a $213,000 nest box program failed the threatened species it was designed to attract, there is much we can learn from it to improve future offset policy and projects.
New research, just published in Journal of Mammalogy, has observed a dramatic increase in feral predators after a prescribed burn in Victoria’s Otway Ranges.
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; 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. 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.
Two PhD top-up scholarships are being offered through The University of Queensland to protect threatened species on Christmas Island.
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.