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: Study shows fairy-wrens learn to drive off cuckoos from their neighbors

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

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

5 hours ago

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

6 hours ago

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

Former Iron Curtain still barrier for deer

12 hours ago

The Iron Curtain was traced by an electrified barbed-wire fence that isolated the communist world from the West. It was an impenetrable Cold War barrier—and for some inhabitants of the Czech Republic it ...

Humpback protections downgrade clears way for pipeline

22 hours ago

Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing a pipeline to the Pacific ...

Maine baby lobster decline could end high catches

22 hours ago

Scientists say the number of baby lobsters settling off the rocky coast of Maine continues to steadily decline—possibly foreshadowing an end to the recent record catches that have boosted New England's lobster fishery.

User comments : 0

More news stories