Early results from a large-scale adaptive management experiment for malleefowl

Date: 19, Aug, 2018
Author(s):   Southwell, D., Benshemesh, J., Burnard, T., Kington, L., Wintle, B.

Presentation to the 6th National Malleefowl Forum, Mildura 2018

Adaptive management (AM) is a way to manage ecological systems under uncertainty, yet it is rarely put into practice. Here, we describe the establishment of a large-scale AM predator experiment designed to resolve uncertainty about the effect of predator management on malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata). We monitored predator activity and malleefowl breeding activity in 10 AM sites in South (SA) and Western Australia (WA). Foxes and cats were managed in and around treatment sites while control sites were left unmanaged. Fox activity was lower in WA (0.097 captures per 100 trap nights;
95% CI 0.058 – 0.147) compared with SA (0.901 captures per 100 trap nights; 95% CI 0.762 – 1.051). In contrast, cat activity was higher in WA (0.243 captures per 100 trap nights; 95% CI 0.178 – 0.319) compared with SA (0.153 captures per 100 trap nights; 95% CI 0.099 – 0.219). Regression modelling suggests a weak effect of predator control on malleefowl breeding activity, however, this effect was highly uncertain. Although the effectiveness of predator management is inconclusive at this stage, the
experiment is ongoing and even at this early stage already represents one of the largest attempts at adaptive management.