The roles that medium- and micro-predators play in ecosystems were first noted by Darwin. He observed that field mice prey upon “humble” bee nests, and that the abundance of cats in a district, through suppression of mice, may increase the flowering success of certain plants, such as clover. Aaron Greenville, Katherine Tuft, Rob Brandle and Chris Dickman discuss how the Australian arid zone is an ideal place to examine Darwin’s observation and its implications as they undertake research to help secure the future of the kowari.
The noisy miner is possibly Australia’s most successful native bird species. It is also one of the most hated, as its success has been at the expense of many other species of woodland birds, including several threatened species. For these reasons many people call for the bird to be culled – but does it work?
Know thy enemy is a famous quote from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It is also a brilliant strategy when trying to saving an endangered species from a relentless threat. We talked to Dr Steve Murphy from The University of Queensland about new research which will GPS-track feral cats at Pullen Pullen Reserve.
The white-bellied frog in south-western Western Australia is experiencing population extinctions throughout its small range. The driver of recent declines is a mystery, but Emily Hoffmann of the University of Western Australia is on the case. She presents some of the pieces of the puzzle here and asks some of the questions that may produce the clues we need to solve it.
About the Possum and Glider module of the CAUL Urban Wildlife App. The app is a collaboration between the Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub of the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Program.
The hub is undertaking a nation-wide assessment of the conservation status of every Australian eucalypt species. To commemorate this achievement we are holding a photo competition to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Australia's eucalypts. Entries close 22 July 2019.
Do you have data on threatened or near-threatened Australian birds, plants or mammals? Please send it in by 15 June 2019 and it will be used to update Australia's first ever threatened birds index and to create indexes for plants and mammals by the end of the year.
Many of Australia’s possums and gliders are under threat. Good information about where different species are greatly assists conservation programs. Members of the public can play a valuable role in helping to collect this information in their own backyards, and surrounding parks and natural areas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.