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.
Participants at the recent ‘Threatened Species Management on Islands: failures, successes and lessons learned’ workshop identified several areas where research can be directed to improve success rates for island conservation.
As well as looking at where and how threatened species management has been successful and unsuccessful on islands, the group discussed new and emerging challenges for island conservation and also identified potential future collaborations.
The workshop, run by Dr Justine Shaw and Associate Professor Salit Kark from the TSR Hub, attracted approximately 40 researchers from Australian, US, Scottish and Swedish universities, as well as people living and working on Lord Howe, Norfolk, Christmas and Phillip Islands.
The multi-disciplinary group included academics, research scientists, park rangers, state and federal government scientists, consultants, museum staff, community leaders and scientists from NGOs.
Management lessons from across islands and organisations were shared and will enhance future collaborations and joint projects, and the workshop will inform the future direction of the TSR Hub’s Project 4.2 (Saving species on Australian islands).
The workshop was held in conjunction with the recent Island Arks IV symposium held on Norfolk Island, in the wake of the Churchill Cyclone passing north of the island that morning.
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.
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.
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.
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.