Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Demography of the Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix)

Ian J. Smales A E , Bruce Quin B , Peter W. Menkhorst C and Donald C. Franklin D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biosis Research Pty Ltd, 38 Bertie Street., Port Melbourne, Vic. 3207, Australia.

B Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria, PO Box 264, Woori Yallock, Vic. 3139, Australia.

C Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, PO Box 137, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

D School for Environmental Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: ismales@biosisresearch.com.au

Emu 109(4) 352-359 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU09002
Submitted: 15 January 2009  Accepted: 24 October 2009   Published: 9 December 2009

Abstract

Understanding the demography of threatened taxa is essential for formulating effective management strategies for their conservation and for making predictions about their long-term prospects. With fewer than 25 breeding pairs in the current wild population, the Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) is one of the most threatened birds in Australia. Demography of the sole wild population of the Helmeted Honeyeater was investigated by monitoring 526 nests between 1984 and 1996 and 324 colour-banded birds between 1984 and 2008. Throughout the study, the population was effectively closed, there being no evidence of immigration or emigration. Mean survivorship of nests from laying to fledging was 0.17, and mean survivorship of juveniles (from 40 days to 1 year of age) was 0.63. Weighted mean annual survivorship of adult females and males was 0.75 and 0.81 respectively. The population showed little between-year variation in annual productivity and survivorship, with sufficient recruitment for positive population growth. In general, the population dynamics of the Helmeted Honeyeater fit the pattern of an ‘old endemic’ Australian passerine, with low survival of eggs and chicks, extended parental care of juveniles and high survivorship of juveniles and adults. Eggs and chicks that would not naturally survive are a resource that may be used to assist recovery of the population.

Additional keywords: conservation, passerine, population, survivorship, threatened species.


Acknowledgements

Throughout more than 24 years of this investigation, numerous people have contributed to the field program. Many of them were volunteer members of Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater Inc. and we especially appreciate their assistance. Guidance has been provided since 1989 by the Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Team. Special thanks are due to Mike Clarke and Neil Murray for discussions and insights into honeyeater biology. Staff of Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment at Woori Yallock have assisted throughout and many staff of Healesville Sanctuary helped with monitoring of the wild population and provision of veterinary assistance. Mike McCarthy, Mark Burgman, Peter Temple-Smith, Hugh Ford and David Paton variously supervised and provided valuable comment on I. Smales’ M.Sc. thesis, part of which formed the early basis of this paper.


References

Akçakaya, H. R. , McCarthy, M. A. , and Pearce, J. L. (1995). Linking landscape data with population viability analysis: management options for the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix. Biological Conservation 73, 169–176.
CrossRef |

Bartlett L. (2003). Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) nest success: the effect of nest site and the identity of nest predators. B.Sc.(Hons) Thesis, The University of Melbourne.

Baxter, P. W. J. , McCarthy, M. A. , Possingham, H. P. , Menkhorst, P. W. , and McLean, N. (2006). Accounting for management costs in sensitivity analyses of matrix population models. Conservation Biology 20(3), 893–905.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Blackney, J. R. , and Menkhorst, P. (1993). Distribution of subspecies of the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater in the Yarra Valley region, Victoria. Emu 93, 209–213.


Clark, T. W. (1993). Creating and using knowledge for species and ecosystem conservation: science, organization, and policy. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 36, 497–525.


Cooper, R. P. (1967a). Is the Helmeted Honeyeater doomed? Australian Bird Watcher 3, 1–13.


Cooper, R. P. (1967b). A centenary review of the Helmeted Honeyeater. Victorian Naturalist 84, 215–220.


Franklin, D. , Smales, I. , Miller, M. , and Menkhorst, P. (1995). The reproductive biology of the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix. Wildlife Research 22, 173–191.
CrossRef |

Franklin, D. , Smales, I. , Quin, B. , and Menkhorst, P. (1999). The annual cycle of the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix, a sedentary inhabitant of a predictable environment. Ibis 141, 256–268.
CrossRef |

Kokko, H. , and Ekman, J. (2002). Delayed dispersal as a route to breeding: territorial inheritance, safe havens, and ecological constraints. American Naturalist 160, 468–484.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Krebs C. J. (1978). ‘Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance.’ 2nd edn. (Harper and Row: New York.)

Martin, T. E. (1996). Life history evolution in tropical and south temperate birds: what do we really know? Journal of Avian Biology 27, 263–272.
CrossRef |

Mayfield, H. F. (1975). Suggestions for calculating nest success. Wilson Bulletin 87(4), 456–466.


McCarthy, M. A. (1996). Extinction dynamics of the helmeted honeyeater: effects of demography, stochasticity, inbreeding and spatial structure. Ecological Modelling 85, 151–163.
CrossRef |

McCarthy, M. A. , Franklin, D. C. , and Burgman, M. A. (1994). The importance of demographic uncertainty: an example from the Helmeted Honeyeater. Biological Conservation 67, 135–142.
CrossRef |

McCarthy, M. A. , Burgman, M. A. , and Ferson, S. (1995). Sensitivity analysis for models of population viability. Biological Conservation 73, 93–100.
CrossRef |

McCarthy M. A. , Menkhorst P. W. , Quin B. , Smales I. J. , and Burgman M. A. (2004). Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) in southern Australia: assessing options for establishing a new wild population. In ‘Species Conservation and Management: Case Studies’. (Eds H. R. Akçakaya, M. Burgman, O. Kindvall, C. C. Wood, P. Sjogren-Gulve, J. S. Hatfield and M. A. McCarthy.) pp. 410–420. (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.)

McMahon, A. R. G. , and Franklin, D. C. (1993). The significance of Mountain Swamp Gum for Helmeted Honeyeater populations in the Yarra Valley. Victorian Naturalist 110, 230–237.


McMahon A. R. G. , Carr G. W. , Race G. J. , Bedggood S. E. , and Todd J. A. (1991). The vegetation and management of the Yellingbo State Nature Reserve with particular reference to the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix. Report to Department of Conservation and Environment (Vic). Ecological Horticulture Pty Ltd, Melbourne.

Menkhorst P. (2007 a). ‘National Recovery Plan for the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix.’ (Department of Sustainability and Environment: Melbourne.)

Menkhorst P. (2007 b). ‘Background and Implementation Information for the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix National Recovery Plan.’ (Department of Sustainability and Environment: Melbourne.)

Menkhorst P. , and Middleton D. (1991). ‘The Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Plan: 1989–1993.’ (Department of Conservation and Environment: East Melbourne.)

Menkhorst P. , Smales I. , and Quin B. (1999). ‘Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Plan, 1999–2003.’ (Department of Natural Resources and Environment: Melbourne.)

Pearce, J. L. , Menkhorst, P. , and Burgman, M. A. (1995). Niche overlap and competition for habitat between the helmeted honeyeater and bell miner. Wildlife Research 22, 633–646.
CrossRef |

Pearl R. (1928). ‘The Rate of Living, Being an Account of Some Experimental Studies on the Biology of Life Duration.’ (Alfred A. Knopf: New York.)

Perrins C. 1991. Constraints on the demographic parameters of bird populations. In ‘Bird Population Studies: Relevance to Conservation and Management’. (Eds C. M. Perrins, J. D. Lebreton and G. J. M. Hirons.) pp. 190 – 206. (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.)

Rowley I. , and Russell E. (1991). Demography of passerines in the temperate southern hemisphere. In ‘Bird Population Studies: Relevance to Conservation and Management’. (Eds C. M. Perrins, J. D. Lebreton and G. J. M. Hirons.) pp. 22 – 44. (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.)

Runciman, D. , Franklin, D. , and Menkhorst, P. W. (1995). Movements of the Helmeted Honeyeater during the non-breeding season. Emu 95, 111–118.


Russell, E. (2000). Avian life histories: is extended parental care the southern secret? Emu 100, 377–399.
CrossRef |

Russell, E. M. , Yom-Tov, Y. , and Geffen, E. (2004). Extended parental care and delayed dispersal: northern, tropical, and southern passerines compared. Behavioral Ecology 15, 831–838.
CrossRef |

Smales I. J. (2004). Population ecology of the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix: long-term investigations of a threatened bird. M.Sc. Thesis, The University of Melbourne.

Smales I. J. , Craig S. A. , Williams G. A. , and Dunn R. W. (1990). The Helmeted Honeyeater: decline, conservation and recent initiatives for recovery. In ‘Management and Conservation of Small Populations’. (Eds T. W. Clark and J. H. Seebeck.) pp. 225 – 238. (Chicago Zoological Society: Chicago.)

Smales, I. , Miller, M. , Middleton, D. , and Franklin, D. (1992). Establishment of a captive-breeding programme for the Helmeted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops cassidix. International Zoo Yearbook 31, 57–63.
CrossRef |

Smales I. , Menkhorst P. , and Horrocks G. (1995). The Helmeted Honeyeater recovery program: a view of its organisation and operation. In ‘People and Nature Conservation: Perspectives on Conservation on Private Land and Endangered Species Recovery’. (Eds A. Bennett, G. Backhouse and T. Clark.). Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, pp. 35–44. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.)

Smales, I. , Quin, B. , Krake, D. , Dobrozczyk, D. , and Menkhorst, P. (2000). Re-introduction of Helmeted Honeyeaters, Australia. Re-introduction News 19, 34–36.


Sokal R. R. , and Rohlf F. J. (1995). ‘Biometry.’ 3rd edn. (Freeman: New York.)

Wakefield, N. A. (1958). The Yellow-tufted Honeyeater with a description of a new subspecies. Emu 58, 162–194.


Woinarski, J. C. Z. , and Wykes, B. J. (1983). Decline and extinction of the Helmeted Honeyeater at Cardinia Creek. Biological Conservation 27, 7–21.
CrossRef |

Wykes B. J. (1985). The Helmeted Honeyeater and related honeyeaters of Victorian woodlands. In ‘Birds of Eucalypt Forests and Woodlands: Ecology, Conservation and Management’. (Eds A. Keast, H. F. Recher, H. Ford and D. Saunders.). pp. 205–217. (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union and Surrey Beatty and Sons: Sydney.)


Export Citation Cited By (4)