More than 8000 islands surround Australia’s coast - from tropical to temperate to sub-Antarctic climates; from large populated islands to tiny uninhabited
“Many people aren’t aware of how many islands we have and how diverse they are,” reflects Associate Professor Salit Kark, project leader for Project 4.2: Saving species on Australian islands.
While the ecology of each island is different, native threatened island species often face similar conservation challenges resulting from the impacts of invasive species, habitat loss and other factors.
“Australia’s islands play a very important role in threatened species recovery. Not only do endemic island species need protection, but islands can also be used as refuges for species that are threatened on the mainland,” says Associate Professor Kark.
“Many of Australia’s islands are already undergoing conservation activities to protect native species, and we want to assist in developing more sharing of data, knowledge and experience.”
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s Project 4.2 aims to maximise conservation benefits by facilitating a more coordinated approach to island conservation at a national scale.
Work has started with a collaborative project underway at Stradbroke and Moreton Island off the southeast Queensland coastline.
Researchers and students are working with partners and stakeholders, such as the Quandamooka aboriginal people and environment groups, who are actively engaged in on-ground threatened species recovery – namely feral animal eradication.
Macquarie Island, home to thousands of threatened seabirds, is another example where Project 4.2 can maximize conservation benefits says fellow project leader Dr. Justine Shaw.
“The island recently underwent successful eradication of three vertebrate pests. We’re investigating how best to monitor and quantify threatened species and ecosystem recovery on the island in the wake of this eradication.
“This research will assist in decision making around island eradications globally.”
The research team will work closely with a wide range of stakeholders to fill knowledge gaps, facilitate sharing and learning from other island experiences, improve prioritisation and demonstrate strategies on how, where and when to invest in on-ground island management activities.
Salit and Justine recently ran a workshop as part of the Island Arks Symposium IV on Norfolk Island.
Image: Elephant seals on Green Gorge beach, Macquarie Island. Photo by Dr Justine Shaw.
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.
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…
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.
Threatened Species Recovery Hub researcher profile.
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.