Malleefowl adaptive management experiment

Date: 16, Sep, 2021
Author(s): Darren Southwell   Joe Benshemesh   Tim Burnard   Erica Marshall   Daniella Teixeira  

Adaptive management (AM) is advocated in the natural resource management literature as a framework for managing ecological systems under uncertainty, yet it is rarely put into practice. Here, we report on a landscape-scale experiment to learn about the effectiveness of predator control on the breeding activity of the threatened malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata). Over the last 5 years, we established 22 control-treatment sites in 8 clusters across continental Australia and managed foxes and cats in and around treatment sites. We monitored malleefowl breeding activity annually through a network of citizen scientists and recorded fox and cat activity with more than 200 continuously operating motion-triggered cameras. Results from the malleefowl AM experiment so far provide little support for predator control as an effective conservation strategy for malleefowl. However, we recommend the experiment continue until all sites have been operational for at least 5 years. Our study represents a rare example of a landscape-scale predator control experiment within an adaptive management framework.