Population assessment of the Eastern Bristlebird in SE Australia, and Survey for the Mainland Ground Parrot in Victoria

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

The Eastern Bristlebird occurs as three sub-populations along the eastern seaboard of Australia. Extensive fire is a key threat, extirpating the species from 10 of 11 known locations in Victoria from 1978–1994, and severely affecting subpopulations at Barren Grounds in 1968 and Nadgee in 1980. Here we focus on the southern population which was heavily impacted by wildfire during the Black Summer bushfires 2019/2020. Indeed, the imminent threat of fire led to a dramatic rescue to secure a captive insurance population that has been widely reported (e.g. https://theconversation.com/our-helicopter-rescue-may-seem-a-lot-of-effort-for-a-plain-little-bird-but-it-was-worth-it-138818 ). Post-fire monitoring demonstrates that approximately half of the southern population's range was burnt by fire in the period Jan-Apr 2020. In order to secure this population into the future there are large scale plans to monitor and recover the Eastern Bristlebird both within the species current range, and undertake conservation translocations to establish additional populations to spread risk relative to future fire events. Here we seek to monitor the extent of the current population and collect blood samples from wild birds to extend an already funded conservation genetics project that will determine population genetic health, inform optimum size cohorts for translocation, and potential future captive management.

The Mainland Ground Parrot occurs along the eastern seaboard of Australia from far western Victoria to Fraser Island in Queensland Extensive fire, vegetation clearance and habitat loss are key threats. The species is now extinct in South Australia and has been lost from numerous sites elsewhere within its range in eastern Australia. In Victoria there are thought to be a 'handful' of birds in western Victoria, a small population at Wilson's Promontory and scattered populations from Lakes Entrance to the state border with NSW. Here we focus on the Victorian population where most sub-populations in the east of the state were directly impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020. In order to secure the Victorian population into the future there are plans in development to recover the Ground Parrot in the state through conservation translocations, with the goal being to spread risk relative to future fire events. Here we seek to monitor the extent of the current population to provide much needed and urgent clarity regarding the species' distribution. This is an essential first step towards the Mainland Ground Parrot's recovery across the southern half of its range.
Short titleThreatened bird management after the Black Summer bushfires
Effective start/end date1/11/2031/12/21