Review lobbies for closer look at management techniques

Sep 06, 2013 by Geoff Vivian
Review lobbies for closer look at management techniques
Dr Skroblin says improved land management practices at Mornington Station have been beneficial to purple-crowned fairy wrens. Credit: Tom Tarrant

A review paper advocates studying the presence of wrens (Maluridae) in local landscapes to assess the ecological soundness of land management practices.

Wildlife ecologist Dr Anya Skroblin says wrens are relatively easy to observe and are present throughout much of Australia with their behaviour, habitat, and conservation status having been widely studied.

"There's really great which then we can use when we are thinking about conservation issues," she says.

She says sympatric also present good opportunities for understanding conservation problems.

"There's a lot of places where we have threatened species co-occurring with Malurids that aren't threatened [but] they are both experiencing the same land-management regimes," Dr Skroblin says.

"If one species is declining where the other species is not we can use that information to investigate … what fundamental factor is at play.

"So it's a way of teasing apart how these threatening processes within the landscape are influencing species."

She gave the example of the purple-crowned fairy-wren (Malurus coronatus coronatus) at Mornington Wilderness Camp in the Kimberley, where she conducted much of the field work for her PhD.

"That species is the only threatened fairy wren on mainland Australia," Dr Skroblin says.

"It's been declining in the Kimberley region and it co-occurs with the red-backed fairy-wren (M. melanocephalus cruentatus) and the variegated fairy-wren (M. lamberti rogersi) and they haven't been shown to be declining at the same rate.

"I did my PhD on the purple crowned fairy wren so I'm quite intimate with the reasons for its decline.

"It's probably due to the fact that the purple crowned fairy occurs on the riverine vegetation … in that area.

She says the vegetation in question is particularly susceptible to being degraded by grazing cattle and is also very fire sensitive.

Dr Skroblin says improved at Mornington Station have been beneficial to purple-crowned fairy wrens.

About half of the purple-crowned 's habitat at Mornington Station has been de-stocked of cattle, and improved fire regimes have prevented riparian vegetation from burning.

"We've seen that the riparian vegetation has increased in density and … populations of purple-crowned fairy-wrens along the rivers have increased," she says.

"There are really interesting comparisons between what happens when we remove cattle and what happens when we allow them to remain.

"Once you understand how different species are affected by the same management regime, land managers can go about changing the way they manage their landscape."

Explore further: Thirty new marine protected areas declared in Scotland

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wrens eavesdrop on the neighbors

Aug 17, 2011

Superb fairy-wrens eavesdrop, learn to understand and react to the danger calls of other bird species that live nearby, according to new research published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. ...

Faithful males do not bring flowers

May 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Fairy-wrens are notorious for their infidelity: despite living in seemingly harmonious monogamous pairs, females produce mostly illegitimate young, and males spend more time courting other ...

Why are so many fairy-wrens blue?

Nov 01, 2012

(Phys.org)—Researchers have long tried to explain the enormous diversity in colour of birds, and a new study is giving insights into why the humble fairy-wren, a colourful Australian bird, is radiantly ...

Recommended for you

Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil

4 hours ago

Giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two hunters in separate incidents, raising concerns about the animals' loss of habitat and the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people, researchers said.

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

Jul 24, 2014

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

Jul 24, 2014

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

User comments : 0