Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Managing the Ground Parrot in its fiery habitat in south-eastern Australia

Jack Baker A D , Robert J. Whelan A B , Lyn Evans C , Stephen Moore C and Melinda Norton C

A Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

B University of Wollongong in Dubai, PO Box 20183, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

C NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, PO Box A290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: jbaker@uow.edu.au

Emu 110(4) 279-284 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU10014
Submitted: 8 March 2010  Accepted: 27 March 2010   Published: 26 October 2010

Abstract

The Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) is a rare and iconic endemic of heathlands in southern Australia. It is threatened by frequent and widespread fire. The species has been an integral element in the development of our understanding of the impacts of fire regimes in heathlands and is an integral part of conservation management of these fire-prone ecosystems. This long-term study documents the densities of Ground Parrots in three areas of long-unburnt habitat in southern New South Wales. Using area searches and aural surveys, we estimated densities of Ground Parrots at Barren Grounds Nature Reserve–Budderoo National Park (1983–2009), Beecroft Weapons Range (1997–2008) and Nadgee Nature Reserve (1995–2009). At each location, the species occurred in long-unburnt habitat (≥20 years post-fire), sometimes at high densities (≥2 birds per 10 ha). We recommend that, in south-eastern Australia, fire should not be used to manipulate the ecological functioning of habitat for the persistence of Ground Parrot populations and conclude that there should be area-specific adaptive management plans that specify how the important elements of the biodiversity will be conserved and how this will be measured.

Additional keywords: conservation, fire, heathland, Pezoporus wallicus, population, threatened species.


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