Investigating multiple management strategies to assess population persistence following translocation of a threatened bird

  • Mitchell, William Francis, (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • Clarke, Rohan (Supervisor)

Project: Research

Project Description

The endangered Mallee Emu-wren (Stipiturus mallee) is a tiny bird, specialised for established spinifex (Triodia spp.) habitat (Brown et al. 2009). Once abundant in the Mallee region of Australia, historic land clearing and a series of wildfires have restricted the Mallee Emu-wren to a network of reserves containing the little remaining suitable habitat (Brown et al. 2009). In 2014, the only remaining Mallee Emu-wren population in South Australia was decimated by wildfire. At present, Murray-Sunset, Hattah-Kulkyne, and Wyperfeld National Parks (NP), all in Victoria, contain the only remaining populations (DELWP 2016). Fragmented habitat, and the species’ cryptic nature, weak flying capacity and aversion for open ground mean the Mallee Emu-wren is unable to recolonise suitable habitat following fire (Brown et al. 2013). A large wildfire in currently occupied Mallee Emu-wren habitat would devastate the global population of the species (DELWP 2016). A large-scale trial translocation from Victorian NPs to Ngarkat Conservation Park (CP) in South Australia, is being implemented as a priority conservation strategy for the Mallee Emu-wren. This translocation is being managed by Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin (SAMDB) in partnership with Zoos SA, BirdLife Australia, Monash and La Trobe universities and state government agencies; I am fully embedded in this team. Funding has been secured for field translocation efforts until June 2019 through the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Recovery Fund. Funding for equipment and monitoring that forms a core component of my PhD is yet to be obtained and is the subject of this application. Translocation (the human mediated movement of living organisms from one area to another, IUCN/SSC 2013) is an effective conservation management tool. However, a number of key areas for improvement have been highlighted for researchers in this field (Taylor et al. 2017):
 Success criteria in published studies of translocations are often limited to population establishment. Long-term persistence of translocated populations must be incorporated into definitions of success (Taylor et al. 2017).
 Studies of translocations should directly assist management decision-making by explicitly comparing alternate management actions (Taylor et al. 2017).
 Financial accountability should be improved in translocation literature (Fischer and Lindenmayer 2000).
Effective start/end date1/01/1931/12/19