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.
“The Orange-bellied Parrot tops the list, closely followed by two subspecies from King Island – the King Island Scrubtit and the Brown Thornbill,” says project leader Professor Stephen Garnett.
The research team is finalising the list of Australia’s most threatened birds and mammals through a combination of scientific modelling and the distillation of expert opinion – adopting a process proven to be more accurate than deferring to the judgement of a lone researcher.
“For each group we first analyse a suite of characteristics such as population size and trends, the intensity of the threatening processes and the size of the areas they occupy using three models – each of which emphasises different aspects of a species’ biology when predicting extinction,” Professor Garnett says.
“We can then confirm whether or not these models agree. If they don’t agree, we need to determine why.”
This is where expert opinion enters the equation. Threatened species experts are asked to estimate the likely risk of a particular species’ extinction and provide an indication of the confidence they hold in their estimate.
Where experts uncover discrepancies in their analysis, they are encouraged to debate those differences whilst collaborating on a final prediction.
“Modelling alone cannot always provide the answer, nor can expert opinion, but when combined we can reach the best answer attainable,” Professor Garnett says.
Preliminary results obtained through this process clearly indicate the high risk of extinction to several Tasmanian bird species.
Protecting the Orange-bellied Parrot is already a key focus of another TSR Hub research project (Project 2.2), which aims to mitigate the threats faced by Tasmania’s hollow-nesting birds.
In addition to the species from Tasmania, one surprise inclusion on the list was a subspecies of Painted Buttonquail, which now inhabits only two small islands of the Houtman Abrolhos off the coast of Western Australia.
The Buttonquail population declined following the introduction of wallabies to one of the three islands that once formed the Buttonquails’ historical range, as the wallabies dramatically reduced the available vegetation.
“We were alerted to the plight of the Buttonquail by the Chair of the Western Australian Threatened Species Committee, Andrew Burbidge, and we shall do what we can to help him garner support for rapid action,” says Professor Garnett.
The research conducted forms part of the TSR Hub’s Project 2.1, which aims to provide direction to government agencies and non-government by alerting them to cases of imminent extinction.
Image: Orange-bellied Parrot by DPIPWE
In 2008, the Australian Government banned the importation of savannah cats to Australia, and that was a very good thing, according to a new scientific study by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.
Properties in the Margaret River region have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to conserving the Critically Endangered Western Ringtail Possum. People don’t often think of possums as needing our help, but there are actually less western ringtail possums in the world than Bengal tigers.
It is Threatened Species Day on 7 September. If you are a threatened species in Australia, chances are you are on Indigenous-managed land, as it is the last stronghold for many species which have been lost from the wider landscape .
New research has found that habitat loss is a major concern for hundreds of Australian bird species, and south-eastern Australia has been the worst affected. The Threatened Species Recovery Hub study found that half of all native bird species have each lost almost two-thirds of their natural habitat across Victoria, parts of South Australia and New South Wales.
Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) Rangers in the Martu Determination have collaborated with Threatened Species Recovery Hub scientists to design a monitoring program for mankarr (the greater bilby). Martu people identified priorities for the bilby monitoring program, then worked with Dr Anja Skroblin from The University of Melbourne to co-develop a monitoring method which brings together Martu knowledge and practice with Western conservation science.