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EHMKE G.,BirdLife Australia | FITZSIMONS J.A.,The Nature Conservancy | FITZSIMONS J.A.,Deakin University | GARNETT S.T.,Charles Darwin University
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2017

Over the last 25 years subspecies have become an important unit of bird conservation in Australia. Some have evocative common English names which have allowed the subspecies to be vested with meaning among conservation advocates, evoking feelings of concern, loyalty and affection. This suggests that providing subspecies with stable English names can allow development of a ‘brand’ among those in need of conservation action. Also, since scientific names often change with knowledge of taxonomic relationships among birds, a stable list of standardised English names for all species and subspecies can minimise confusion and ambiguity among the public and in legislation. Here we present the arguments for creating a standardised list of English names for Australian bird subspecies and set out principles for formulating subspecies names, along with a list of the names themselves, with the aim of building the general public’s attachment to subspecies, increasing interest in their conservation and as subjects of research. Copyright © BirdLife International 2017


PubMed | Monash University and BirdLife Australia
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

The loss of biodiversity following fragmentation and degradation of habitat is a major issue in conservation biology. As competition for resources increases following habitat loss and fragmentation, severe population declines may occur even in common, highly mobile species; such demographic decline may cause changes within the population structure of the species. The regent honeyeater, Anthochaera phrygia, is a highly nomadic woodland bird once common in its native southeast Australia. It has experienced a sharp decline in abundance since the late 1970s, following clearing of large areas of its preferred habitat, box-ironbark woodland, within the last 200 years. A captive breeding program has been established as part of efforts to restore this species. This study used genetic data to examine the range-wide population structure of regent honeyeaters, including spatial structure, its change through time, sex differences in philopatry and mobility, and genetic differences between the captive and wild populations. There was low genetic differentiation between birds captured in different geographic areas. Despite the recent demographic decline, low spatial structure appears to have some temporal consistency. Both sexes appear to be highly mobile, and there does not seem to be significant genetic differentiation between the captive and wild populations. We conclude that management efforts for survival of this species, including habitat protection, restoration, and release of captive-bred birds into the wild, can treat the species as effectively a single genetic population.


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).


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.


PubMed | Phillip Island Nature Parks, BirdLife Australia and Deakin University
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

Wildlife living in the suburbs faces the challenge of dealing with human presence and yard management (including the occurrence of pets) which vary at the scale of the house block. This study examined the influence of ecological factors (e.g. extent of grass and food availability) and anthropogenic factors (e.g. human activity and garden usage) on breeding site choice and reproductive success of the ground-nesting masked lapwing Vanellus miles on Phillip Island, Australia. Lapwings nested less frequently in residential properties (high levels of human usage) compared with vacant blocks and holiday houses. They were also more likely to breed on properties with high food availability and larger areas of grass. None of these variables influenced clutch size or the probability of eggs hatching, although larger clutches and higher hatching rates tended to be associated with more food. This study shows that, for an urban exploiting species, habitat quality is not homogenous at the scale of the house block, and that human activity is avoided by a species generally considered highly tolerant of people.


News Article | April 8, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

A bar-tailed Godwit is shown feeding on a sandbar in Merimbula in southern New South Wales in this photo from Birdlife Australia (AFP Photo/Chris Purnell) They are the international travellers who come to Australia each year to rest and feast, but migratory birds face a perilous journey, officials said Friday as they launched a plan to help protect them. Feathered tourists such as the grey plover, red knot and common sandpiper commonly spend several months each year Down Under after their breeding season in the northern hemisphere, travelling thousands of kilometres to get here. "Shorebirds such as the female bar-tailed godwit match the incredible long-haul range of an Airbus A380," Environment Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement. "But the perilous nature of migration, where birds cross multiple national boundaries, means shorebirds face a multitude of threats." Hunt said a new plan, designed to help protect some 35 species, recognised that some populations of these birds were in decline. "There is a growing need to reduce the threats to their habitat," he said, adding that this was critical for the birds' continued survival. Australia's coastal and freshwater wetlands are a resting and feeding zone for the migratory shorebirds -- with some travelling up to 11,500 kilometres (7,146 miles) non-stop to journey south. Many travel along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway which extends from breeding grounds in the Russian tundra, Mongolia and Alaska south through Asia to non-breeding areas in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. Hunt said cooperation between countries was required to protect the birds and the new Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds provided the foundation for this. "This plan is guiding our bilateral talks with Japan, China and the Republic of Korea on how threats to migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea region can be managed with the help of local communities," he said. The plan notes that habitat loss as a result of development is the most significant threat to migratory birds in Australia. Along the route it said coastal development in stop-over areas in the Yellow Sea region bordered by North Korea, China and South Korea was of particular concern and the plan aimed to protect remaining tidal flats in the Yellow Sea. Chris Purnell from BirdLife Australia welcomed the plan but said there was still work to be done studying wetlands in Australia given gaps in the existing knowledge.


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.


Fitzsimons J.A.,Deakin University | Thomas J.L.,BirdLife Australia
Australian Field Ornithology | Year: 2012

All species of swallow primarily forage on the wing although occasionally come to ground to take prey. There are only a few documented cases of Australian swallow species foraging while on the ground, and descriptions of foraging techniques in these instances are limited. Here we provide details of observations on ground-foraging of the Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena in south-eastern Australia, as well as an instance of kleptoparasitism.


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.


News Article | November 30, 2015
Site: phys.org

Big, boisterous flocks of Carnaby's black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) are a familiar sight in Perth's skies, but a recent report suggests their numbers are decreasing by an estimated 15 per cent each year. Birdlife Australia's seventh Great Cocky Count in April involved more than 600 volunteers staking out nearly 300 roosting sites mainly across the Perth-Peel coastal plain, and in regional areas. The survey results, released at the WA Threatened Species Forum in October, found flock sizes the number of occupied roost sites were in decline. Historical data suggests the population of Carnaby's, which are endemic to WA's south-west, had halved in the past 45 years, Birdlife Australia Cockies in Crisis coordinator Tegan Douglas says. "If the current trend continues, their population will drop by another 50 per cent in the next five years, which is really quite staggering," Ms Douglas says. The latest count recorded 5,518 Carnaby's cockatoos in the Perth-Peel coastal plain, compared to 7,155 last year. Almost half the birds were documented within 1km of the Gnangara pine plantation, which Ms Douglas says emphasises the site's importance for a species being impacted by Perth's urban sprawl. The cockatoos are relocating into pine plantations as Perth suburbs expand into bushland, but are left homeless when the plantations are cleared, she says. Widespread clearing across the Wheatbelt had also fragmented and limited the availability of suitable nesting hollows when Carnaby's reach breeding age at about four years old. "The females return with their mate to the exact same site they were bred at," she says. "But if in the meantime those trees have disappeared and there is nowhere for them in the vicinity to breed, we do not know what is happening to those birds." She says an ageing Carnaby's population could also be contributing to smaller flock sizes, with birds not surviving to breeding age. BirdLife Australia has been working on the species' recovery plan since 2001. Activities aimed at stemming the decline include education programs, supporting landholders to preserve and restore remnant vegetation, fencing and revegetation projects. As well as identifying and monitoring nesting sites, collecting population and distribution data and installing artificial nesting hollows at breeding grounds. Ms Douglas urged the public to participate in the upcoming count.

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