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Melbourne, Australia

Maguire G.S.,BirdLife Australia | Rimmer J.M.,Barwon Coast | Weston M.A.,Deakin University
Animals | Year: 2013

We surveyed 579 recreationists regarding management of the threatened, beach-dwelling Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricollis. We postulated that: (1) lower awareness of the species and higher 'inconvenience' of management would engender less favourable perceptions of conservation and management; and (2) that frequency of beach use and dog ownership may mediate perceptions and levels of awareness and inconvenience. Overall, inconvenience was low while awareness and support for plover conservation were high. Education and awareness strategies were considered less effective than regulations; exclusion and regulations were considered less desirable than on-ground protective measures. Awareness, frequency of beach use and dog walking did not influence the perceived effectiveness of different managements. More frequent beach users had greater awareness of the species and their plight but reported greater inconvenience associated with management. Respondents with high awareness rated the severity of human-related threats higher; low awareness was associated with more inconvenience associated with on-ground protection, and exclusion and regulations. Dog walkers reported more inconvenience associated with exclusions and regulations than non-dog walkers. Dog walkers who used the beach infrequently rated threats significantly higher than frequent beach users. Conservation and education strategies could usefully be tailored to beach users' level of use and pet ownership. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Lees D.,Deakin University | Sherman C.D.H.,Deakin University | Maguire G.S.,BirdLife Australia | Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | And 2 more authors.
Animals | Year: 2013

Masked Lapwings, Vanellus miles, often come into 'conflict' with humans, because they often breed in close proximity to humans and actively defend their ground nests through aggressive behaviour, which typically involves swooping. This study examined whether defensive responses differed when nesting birds were confronted with different human stimuli ('pedestrian alone' vs. 'person pushing a lawn mower' approaches to nests) and tested the effectiveness of a commonly used deterrent (mock eyes positioned on the top or back of a person's head) on the defensive response. Masked Lapwings did not swoop closer to a person with a lawn mower compared with a pedestrian, but flushed closer and remained closer to the nest in the presence of a lawn mower. The presence of eye stickers decreased (pedestrians) and increased (lawn mowers) swooping behaviour. Masked Lapwings can discriminate between different human activities and adjust their defensive behaviour accordingly. We also conclude that the use of eye stickers is an effective method to mitigate the human-lapwing 'conflict' in some, but not all, circumstances. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Rimmer J.M.,Barwon Coast | Maguire G.S.,BirdLife Australia | Weston M.A.,Deakin University
Victorian Naturalist | Year: 2013

Threatened species signage is frequently used to help protect species by limiting human occurrence or altering damaging human behaviour, yet is rarely developed using a scientific approach that involves collecting data from the key target audience in regard to their preferences for signs and placement of signs. We surveyed members of the beach-going public (n = 684) to document their preferences for desirable features and positioning of signage to protect threatened beach-nesting birds. The results suggest a preference for information relating to education and persuasion over details of regulation. However, preferences differed between recreational user groups, suggesting that target audiences should be identified specifically and prioritised. We also describe clear preferences between four candidate signs, which will facilitate a more informed choice of signage for beachnesting bird management. (The Victorian Naturalist 130 (2) 2013, 75-80). Source

We document widespread use of rice fields by the globally endangered Australian Painted Snipe (Rostratula australis), highlighting the potential for ‘wildlife-friendly’ food production in Australia. A total of 44 Australian Painted Snipe from five of 93 surveyed rice field study sites, and an additional 43 Australian Painted Snipe from three other rice fields, were recorded during the 2012-2013 rice-growing season in the Riverina region of New South Wales. The overall total of 87 birds at these eight widely distributed sites was likely to be indicative of at least several hundred Australian Painted Snipe using the 113 500 ha of rice fields during that period particularly given the limited survey effort. This is remarkable given the most recent estimate of total population size for the species ranges only from 1 000 to 2 500 birds. The birds were primarily recorded using the shallow edges of rice fields, along banks and channels. Future research should focus on (1) determining if significant numbers of Australian Painted Snipe use rice fields regularly, (2) whether or not rice fields provide suboptimal habitat, (3) the extent to which Australian Painted Snipe breed in these habitats, and (4) optimal rice-growing practices that benefit Australian Painted Snipe without hindering conservation management of the Endangered Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), which also occurs in these habitats. There are clear environmental costs of extracting water from rivers for irrigation and rice fields are no substitute for natural wetlands. However, given the recognised need for food production and the large area where rice is still grown, targeted management of rice fields to benefit Australian Painted Snipe and other species may be important in complementing traditional conservation measures like protected areas and ecological restoration. © 2014, Stilt. All rights reserved. Source

Cooper R.,BirdLife Tasmania | Clemens R.,University of Queensland | Oliveira N.,SPEA | Chase A.,BirdLife Australia
Stilt | Year: 2012

Evidence of long-term declines in migratory shorebird populations is reported at two areas in north-east Tasmania. In north-east Tasmania, both George Town Reserve and Cape Portland have featured in National Wader Counts since 1981, although observations go back to the early 1970's. Compared with the extreme north-west of Tasmania and with many mainland study sites, wader numbers in north-east Tasmania are never large, which makes for relatively easier counting. At George Town, count data indicate long-term population declines from 1974 to 2011 in Eastern Curlew, (Numenius madagascariensis), Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), and Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica). George Town has also seen a decrease in the number of migratory shorebird species recorded each year, a drop on average from nine to seven, while Cape Portland has seen a larger drop in migratory shorebird species richness from eleven to six. Cape Portland has also experienced long-term declines from 1981 to 2011 in Ruddy Turnstone and Curlew Sandpiper. The reduction in species richness in both areas relates to historically uncommon species no longer being recorded such as Red Knot (Calidris canutus), Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultia), Grey-tailed Tattler (Tringa brevipes), Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) and Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola). Trends derived from these two north-east Tasmanian areas are similar to those being reported more widely in Australia, with growing numbers of migratory shorebirds showing evidence of long-term population declines. Threats to the foraging areas of both study sites, which have the potential to compromise their viability, are outlined. The volume of data available from these areas will allow for more detailed analyses in future. Source

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