The Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s six-year research program was completed in 2021. For more information see our about page.
Project Leaders: James Watson , Patrick Webster
Research in Brief
The buff-breasted button quail is arguably the most poorly known of all Australian birds. The species is currently listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act with a population estimate of as few as 500 birds.
The species has never been the subject of systematic field-based research, and almost nothing is known of its ecology, status, distribution or threats. This has been identified as the major gap in active management of the species by Queensland and federal government recovery teams.
This project will aim to fill these knowledge gaps and collect vital information for the development of conservation strategies to support the species.
Why is the research needed?
The buff-breasted button quail (Turnix olivii) has never been the focus of ecological or conservation research, and its (potential) extreme rarity means almost nothing is known of its basic biology, such as habitat use, breeding and diet, population trends or what is actually threatening the species.
Despite its status, there are no formal conservation actions underway to secure the species, due largely to these fundamental knowledge gaps. This project aims to solve this issue by addressing the deficiencies in ecological knowledge that impede effective, evidence-based conservation of the species.
How can the research help?
This project aims to improve our currently limited understanding of the buff-breasted button quail, by providing data on the species’ basic ecology, status and distribution and threatening processes.
A major impediment to studying this cryptic species has been locating and identifying populations. Determining a method for detecting and surveying the buttonquail will be the focus of initial research, and the basis of future work.
Once a method for locating the species is identified research will shift to answering questions on the species’ abundance, distribution, habitat use, seasonal movements, environmental influences and breeding biology. This will enable a more informed understanding of the species and ultimately a more accurate understanding of its status.
Throughout this project particular attention will be focused on identifying which threatening processes are impacting on this species. The threats that have apparently resulted in this species’ extreme rarity are not definitively known. Improving our understanding of any threatening processes will ultimately support evidence-based conservation decisions and management actions for the species.
What research activities are being undertaken?
This project will require some desktop research, but will largely focus on field-based research. The proposed research program consists of five components:
Who is involved?
This project is a collaboration between researchers at The University of Queensland, James Cook University, Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Bush Heritage Australia.
Where is the research happening?
This research will occur throughout northern Queensland. The focus will initially be on the known population of buff-breasted button quail in the Mareeba/Mt Mulligan region, but this will expand to include the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Brooklyn Sanctuary and Bush Heritage Australia’s Yourka Reserve as the search for further populations develops.
When is the research happening?
The project will run for three years from 2018 to 2021.
For more information please contact:
Patrick Webster - email@example.com
James Watson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Top image: Buff-breasted button quail habitat. Photo: Patrick Webster