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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr John Kanowski manages the Australian Wildlife Conservancy's science program. We asked him about his life and he had a colourful tale to tell, which started in a big family in country Queensland, included jungle fever and deportation in Malaysian Borneo and a lot of hard work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.