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Immediate action required to prevent another Australian avian extinction: the King Island Scrubtit


Webb, MH and Holdsworth, M and Stojanovic, D and Terauds, A and Bell, P and Heinsohn, R, Immediate action required to prevent another Australian avian extinction: the King Island Scrubtit, Emu: Austral Ornithology, 116, (3) pp. 223-229. ISSN 0158-4197 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 BirdLife Australia

DOI: doi:10.1071/MU15099


For small and rapidly declining populations acting fast to prevent extinction is crucial. However, many endangered species receive little attention or management action. Action paralysis can prevail for several reasons, particularly for data deficient species when conservation resources are scarce. Here we draw attention to one of the world’s rarest birds, the King Island Scrubtit (Acanthornis magnus greenianus), a subspecies of a monotypic genus. Recognised as critically endangered for more than two decades, conservation action is virtually non-existent despite a rapid population decline. To establish current baseline information using a repeatable cost-effective monitoring methodology we surveyed 154 sites at eight locations as well as additional sites within the agricultural matrix. We detected the King Island Scrubtit at 28 sites in three locations (Nook Swamp, Colliers Swamp and Pegarah State Forest). At these locations, we estimated overall occupancy to be 0.35 (s.e. 0.05) and detectability to be 0.68 (s.e. 0.05) during a single site visit. We estimate the current area of occupancy of the bird to be <1 km2 and declining. This study documents previously unrecognised threats (acid sulfate soils, macropod browsing and wind-throw) and provides a path forward to population recovery. Our results highlight the need for urgent action to prevent Australia’s next avian extinction.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:extinction, wildlife management, King Island scrubtit, Acanthornis magnus greenianus
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Population ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Webb, MH (Mr Matthew Webb)
UTAS Author:Holdsworth, M (Mr Mark Holdsworth)
UTAS Author:Terauds, A (Dr Aleks Terauds)
UTAS Author:Bell, P (Dr Phillip Bell)
ID Code:117243
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-06-05
Last Modified:2018-03-17

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