An Overview of Different Projects

The Australian Research Council project of which the Action Plan is part: “Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Australian threatened bird conservation” is a partnership between Charles Darwin University, The University of Queensland, BirdLife Australia, BirdLife International, Biosis and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

The Chief Investigators are Stephen Garnett of Charles Darwin University, Hugh Possingham of The University of Queensland and Stuart Butchart of BirdLife International. The project has also had support from government conservation agencies in the Commonwealth and every State and Territory. The project has the following objectives:

1.    Provide guidance to conservation managers on how to allocate resources among threatened species.
2.    Analyse up to thirty years of research and management of Australian threatened birds, drawing out the biological, social, economic and institutional correlates of success.
3.    Develop an approach that can help policy makers and managers choose the bird conservation interventions that are most likely to be successful
4.    Determine the cost of interventions and strategies for optimal investment
5.    Provide a review of status trends for an entire continental avifauna at a variety of spatial and genetic scales.

The first step has been to produce the Action Plan described on this website. Other research outcomes will be published through the course of this year. This provides an up-to-date view on the status of Australia’s birds. It is also the basis of our recently accepted paper in the journal Biodiversity Conservation which describes the changes in the Red List Index for Australia, a measure of change in the status of biodiversity that is being used globally under the Convention for Biological Diversity, but has never before been applied at a national scale:

Szabo, J.K., Butchart, S.H.M., Possingham, H.P. and Garnett, S.T. In press. Adapting global biodiversity indicators to the national scale: a Red List Index for Australian birds. Biological Conservation

There are two PhD projects associated with the project

1.    An investigation of the social values of Australia's threatened birds being undertaken by Gill Ainsworth of Charles Darwin University will develop and apply the metrics of social value of threatened birds. This analysis will then be used to determine the relationship between social value and other values determined though other parts of the project and the extent to which this influences effective conservation management. The research will help determine the most effective means of community engagement in threatened species conservation.

2.    A review of the economic and institutional frameworks in which conservation efforts operate, a study by Tim Holmes of The University of Queensland, will develop and apply the metrics of institutional complexity with respect to threatened bird conservation in Australia. These metrics will then be used to determine the influence of such complexity on avian conservation management.

Other publications to which the researchers have contributed as part of this research include:

McBride, M.F., Garnett, S.T., Szabo, J.K., Burbidge, A.H., Butchart, S.H.M., Christidis, L., Dutson, G., Ford, H.A., Loyn, R.H., Watson, D.M. and Burgman, M.A. in press. Structured elicitation of expert judgements for threatened species assessment: a case study on a continental scale using email. Methods in Ecology and Evolution
This is review of a technique used to elicit information from experts for nine threatened species about which there was difficulty determining a status from discussion alone.

Martin, T., Nally, S., Burbidge, A., Arnall, S., Garnett, S.T., Harris, S., Hayward, M., Lumsden, L., Menkhorst, P., McDonald-Madden, E. and Possingham, H. in press. Acting fast avoids extinction: Plight of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle and Orange-bellied Parrot. Conservation Letters
Tara Martin and colleagues reviewed the reasons why decisions were made quickly about the Orange-bellied Parrot, giving it at least a small chance of surviving in captivity even if it does go Extinct in the wild, whereas bureaucratic delays led to the complete loss of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle.

Lindenmayer, D.B., Gibbons, P., Bourke, M., Burgman, M., Dickman, C.R., Ferrier, S., Fitzsimons, J., Freudenberger, D., Garnett, S.T., Groves, C., Hobbs, R.J., Kingsford, R.T., Krebs, C., Legge, S., Lowe, A.J., McLean, R., Montambault, J., Possingham, H., Radford, J., Robinson, D., Smallbone, L., Thomas, D., Varcoe, T., Vardon, M., Wardle, G., Woinarski, J., and Zerger, A.  2012. Improving biodiversity monitoring in Australia.  Austral Ecology
This is the outcome of a workshop run by David Lindenmayer on the need for effective monitoring of Australia’s biodiversity, which at the moment is done very badly, if at all.

Garnett, S.T., Joseph, L.M., Watson, J.E.M. and Zander, K.K.  2011. Balancing the influence of corruption and power of currency on priorities for international threatened species investment.  PLoS One 6: e22749
This study arose out of an interest in threatened species conservation internationally, and sets out to help conservation investors determine to what extent the purchasing power of their investment dollar, particularly in poor countries, is offset by the level of corruption in a country.

Garnett, S.T., Olsen, P., Butchart, S.H.M. and Hoffmann, A.A. 2011. Did hybridisation save the Norfolk Island Boobook Owl or cause its extinction?  Oryx 45:500-504
In the 2000 Action Plan the IUCN Red List definitions were interpreted as meaning that the endemic subspecies of owl on Norfolk Island became extinct when reduced to a single female. In this paper we argue that the successful crossing of that female with a male of the New Zealand race was sufficient for it to be listed as Critically Endangered instead.

Project Partners

CDU Logo University of Queensland Bird Life International Australian Wildlife Conservancy Biosis Research  

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