Evaluation of intervention aimed at improving reproductive success in Orange‐bellied Parrots Neophema chrysogaster: Lessons, barriers and successes

Date: 09, Sep, 2020
Author(s):   Stojanovic, D., Young, C., Troy, S., Heinsohn, R.
Publisher: Ecological Management & Restoration

Assessing feasibility and identifying constraints that affect project implementation is a crucial step for planning long‐term species recovery actions for field‐based programs. We report on the outcomes of a conservation intervention on the most endangered parrot in the world, the Orange‐bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster). We aimed to trial new techniques to increase reproductive success of wild nests and address key knowledge gaps. We aimed to achieve higher reproductive success using (i) intervention – where fertile eggs or nestlings would be fostered from captivity to wild nests that suffered infertility or had small brood sizes and (ii) rescue – where wild‐born nestlings would be removed from nests if they were ailing and either fostered to another nest or hand reared to improve their survival. Our project provided proof of principle that it is possible to implement intensive, individual‐level monitoring and intervention (via fostering of nestlings to infertile nests) to address reproductive problems for the Orange‐bellied Parrot. However, we also found important factors that hindered our ability to achieve project aims (management of biosecurity), and identified unexpected factors that have important implications for future application of these techniques (nest abandonment from video camera deployment, rapid death of unhealthy nestlings hindering rescue attempts). Our project tested techniques and tools to provide new approaches for fighting extinction of the Orange‐bellied Parrot, and yielded important new information about the species ecology and management options.