National Recovery Plan for Eastern Bristlebird Dasyornis brachypterus



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B: Feral pest animal control
Action 1.5: Implement feral predator control where Eastern Bristlebirds are vulnerable to predation by cats and foxes, which are a major threat to the species. Vulnerable populations include small isolated populations close to urban areas and all populations immediately after large-scale fire in Eastern Bristlebird habitat.
Post-fire control programs should be implemented in conjunction with other relevant land management agencies and adjoining landholders to protect remaining birds in refuge areas and maximise effective area of fox control. Where possible, cat and fox control should be carried out in unison and control programs should seek to minimise impact on dingo populations. All predator control work after fire should be monitored.
In Nadgee NR, vertebrate pest control programs will be considered by OEH adjacent to key refuge areas after a major fire event.
At Barren Grounds NR and Budderoo NP, intensive vertebrate pest control and control monitoring will be carried out on completion of proposed prescribed burns. Annual cat/fox trapping, 1080 baiting and control monitoring will also be undertaken.
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: OEH, EHP, NPRSR, Parks Victoria, Department of Defence, Parks Australia, Wreck Bay Community Council, LHPAs and private landholders, National Recovery Team and Working Groups.

Action 1.6: Continue feral pig control program at Conondale Range and Spicer’s Gap (Main Range NP) (northern population).
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: Local landowners, NPRSR

Action 1.7: Monitor level of habitat damage by pigs, pig locations and densities in southern population: near Howe Flat and in Nadgee NR, northern population: Spicer’s Gap. Pigs are in the vicinity, the level of impact needs to be assessed.
Priority: Low
Potential contributors: OEH, DSE, Parks Victoria, EHP and NPRSR.

C: Control of weeds, invasive native woody regrowth and plant-soil disease
Action 1.8: Establish and/or maintain weed and Phytophthora hygiene practices in all populations.
This could include spraying or washing down vehicles with a fungicide and using a foot bath station to minimise the chance of Phytophthora and weeds being spread by walkers’ boots.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: National Recovery Team and Working Groups, OEH, Parks Victoria and NPRSR.

Action 1.9: Continue control programs for invasive weeds (particularly Bitou Bush, Lantana and Blackberry) in all populations.
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: OEH, Parks Victoria, NPRSR, Parks Australia, Department of Defence, Wreck Bay Community Council.

Action 1.10: Undertake trial mechanical manipulation of habitat (removing midstorey / shrub layer that will not be affected by fire) to maintain grassy understorey in northern population. Establish transects to monitor responses to habitat manipulation.
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: Northern Working Group, OEH, EHP and private landholders.

D: Site protection
Action 1.11: Strategic domestic livestock grazing management in key Eastern Bristlebird habitat in the northern population. This requires funding to construct fencing at key sites to temporarily exclude stock from key habitat. Liaise with landholders to manage stocking rates during breeding season in key areas and provide stewardship payments to landholders to offset costs of temporarily reducing available grazing resources.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Local landowners, OEH, EHP, Northern Working Group

Action 1.12: Ensure minimal impacts on Eastern Bristlebird and its habitat in all populations from urban developments. State agencies should liaise with relevant land managers to encourage protection of bristlebird habitat. In particular, all possible actions should be taken to minimise habitat loss in localities already zoned for development.
For example, in the central population, OEH, DoP and Shoalhaven City Council should ensure that new development (i.e. rezoning) is precluded in areas of high conservation value (HCV) as per the NSW South Coast Regional Strategy (DoP 2007) (all Eastern Bristlebirds habitat in Jervis Bay is considered HCV).
Priority: Medium
Potential contributors: State Government agencies, Local Government, National Recovery Team and Working Groups.

OBJECTIVE 2: Undertake survey, monitoring and mapping to improve knowledge of all Eastern Bristlebird populations. Population dynamics and habitat condition will be monitored in each population. Methods including survey effort and frequency will be reviewed and standardised and will be subject to ongoing review according to census results or special circumstances such as wildfire. Potential habitat will be surveyed to potentially locate new colonies in the northern and southern populations, and to estimate more accurately the population size for all populations.
Ongoing monitoring of birds, their habitat and threats is essential to guiding and informing the future management of Eastern Bristlebirds, particularly in light of predicted climate change impacts on the environment (Hansen and Biringer 2003).
Recovery criterion 2: Population size and trends are more accurately estimated through the application of standard monitoring methodology, and as many sites as possible are systematically sampled during the term of this plan. Improved mapping of Eastern Bristlebird habitat on all tenures aids management of all populations, assists in better estimating population sizes and guides future recovery actions. Habitat condition and response to threats and threat management is regularly monitored.

A: Survey
Action 2.1: Standard survey and monitoring methods and standard recording sheets will be developed for all populations. This is likely to require a different approach for the northern population to that for the central and southern populations. Input from all those experienced in surveying the species will be required. The standard techniques should be used by all observers, including volunteers. Survey data from all populations will be stored by respective government species managers. Results should be made available and be regularly reviewed.
To ensure rigour and competence in surveys, volunteer surveyors should be trained by experts. To detect birds requires a familiarity with all of the songs and calls of the Eastern Bristlebird. In their Booderee NP study, Lindenmayer et al. (2009) duplicated bird counts at each site on different days to compensate for observer and weather variabilities. These methods are relevant to monitoring of known populations (see Action 2.3) as well as surveying new sites (see Action 2.2).
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: Coordinated by OEH, DSE, Parks Victoria, EHP, NPRSR, BirdLife Australia/Birds Queensland, National Recovery Team and Working Groups, with input from species experts and trained volunteers.

Action 2.2: Survey potential habitat to locate undetected local populations and resurvey locations of historical records in all regions. This is of particular urgency in the northern population. Survey data from the four populations will be stored by respective government agencies.
Standard methodology should be used, along with duplication to compensate for observer bias and weather effects (as in Action 2.1).
Priority: High
Potential contributors: National Recovery Team and Working Groups, State Government agencies, species experts and trained volunteers.

B: Monitoring
Action 2.3: Continue regular population census / monitoring of all populations and, where appropriate, habitat condition every one to two years. This will include long-term monitoring of translocated colonies at Beecroft Peninsula and Cataract Dam. Monitoring data from each population will be stored by respective government species managers. Results should be made available and be regularly reviewed. The Eastern Bristlebird recovery program relies heavily on adaptive and active management guided by population and habitat monitoring data.
Standard methodology should be used, along with duplication where necessary to compensate for observer bias and weather effects (as in Action 2.1).
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: Australian and State Government agencies, National Recovery Team and Working Groups, species experts, volunteers

Action 2.4: Trial and evaluate the automated acoustic monitoring being trialled by OEH for Ground Parrots and Eastern Bristlebirds in all populations. Evaluate the potential for the acoustic signal analysis being undertaken by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to be a valuable tool for Eastern Bristlebird monitoring. These techniques may prove to be more efficient and frequent methods of ongoing monitoring of the Eastern Bristlebird, particularly the small and scattered local populations in northern NSW and southern Qld, in the future if deemed accurate.
Priority: Medium
Potential contributors: OEH, EHP, National Recovery Team, QUT

C: Habitat mapping
Action 2.5: For all populations, continue to map specific Eastern Bristlebird habitat on all tenures including private land and update maps with records, territory boundaries and fire histories.
Priority: Medium
Potential contributors: National Recovery Team and Working Groups, Australian and State Government agencies.

Action 2.6: Refine Eastern Bristlebird habitat mapping in southern population. Refine vegetation mapping to align with Eastern Bristlebird habitat using new air photos for Howe Flat. More accurate vegetation mapping will facilitate the identification of other potentially suitable habitat in the area for survey. Redefine potential habitat based on the updated and more accurate vegetation map for Nadgee. This information will then be used to refine population estimates for the reserve.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: DSE Victoria, Parks Victoria and OEH

Action 2.7: Finalise latest vegetation mapping in northern population and align with Eastern Bristlebird habitat mapping to allow incorporation into legislative and planning protection. More accurate vegetation mapping will facilitate the prediction of other suitable habitat in the area for potential survey.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Northern Working Group, OEH

OBJECTIVE 3: Enhance/augment northern and southern populations, building towards viable populations as determined by population viability analysis.
Genetic bottlenecks are a particular concern for small isolated populations in fragmented habitat. Once a population is reduced to a certain size, it may become genetically unviable in the long term and prone to extinction. Recent genetic studies (Roberts et al. 2011) have indicated that the four Eastern Bristlebird populations are genetically isolated.
The northern population is very small (<40 birds) and has declined substantially in the past 25 years. The southern population appears to be stable but small, estimated at around 400 birds. The recovery of the Eastern Bristlebird will depend on improving the numbers and stability of each of the northern and southern populations. This could be achieved by rebuilding existing small populations and/or establishing new local populations in appropriately managed habitat. For species such as the Eastern Bristlebird, ex-situ conservation measures such as captive breeding and species translocation may be the only options to ensure their survival under predicted climate change scenarios (DECC 2007). In considering possible ex situ responses, the National Recovery Team considers the priority option is to establish a captive breeding and reintroduction program to enhance the northern population (L Baker pers. comm. 2012, D Oliver pers. comm. 2012).
It is acknowledged however that this is not without risks, in particular inability to access enough wild northern birds for captive breeding, and given the critical state of the northern population, other options including wild-to-wild translocations between the populations should be considered. This is consistent with calls to consider within species translocation programs, the strategic mixing of populations to increase their genetic adaptive potential to better respond to and persist in the face of environmental change (Frankham et al. 2011, Weeks et al. 2011).
In response it is proposed that a translocation strategy be developed in which an appropriate risk management framework is applied (Weeks et al. 2011) to consider and implement, if appropriate, wild-to-wild translocation of birds from the southern or central populations, if there are insufficient numbers of wild birds remaining in the northern population.
For the southern population translocation of wild birds into managed habitat would provide increased resilience and improved risk management in the case of catastrophic fire.
Recovery criterion 3: The decline of the northern population is halted, and the wild population is augmented by the reintroduction of captive-bred and/or wild birds. The southern population is enhanced by the establishment of a second Victorian population in Croajingolong NP through translocation.

Action 3.1: Undertake Population Viability Analysis for the Eastern Bristlebird to determine the viable population size to build towards.
This should be done with reference to the other modelling in Action 4.2.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: This is likely to be undertaken by an academic institution and coordinated by the National Recovery Team and Working Groups.

Action 3.2: Establish a captive breeding program for the northern population incorporating knowledge gained during the previous northern population captive breeding pilot program (Booth 2009).
A captive husbandry program should provide adequate stock to: provide insurance against the extinction of a wild population; reintroduce birds to rehabilitated habitat; and continuously improve captive breeding and husbandry techniques.
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: OEH, EHP, species experts, public or private zoological park/facility, National Recovery Team and the Northern Working Group.

Action 3.3: Collect chicks or eggs from north-eastern NSW to provide founder stock for the newly established northern population captive breeding program. This will require engaging an expert contractor and/or the potential use of trained sniffer dogs to survey and locate nests in the breeding season to allow eggs or chicks to be used in the captive breeding program.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: OEH, species experts, National Recovery Team and the Northern Working Group.

Action 3.4: Reintroduce captive-bred birds into unoccupied habitat at sites where active threat management / enhancement has occurred in the northern population. This will be contingent on the outcomes of Actions 2.2 and 4.1 which involve investigating microhabitat requirements, coupled with surveys of potential habitats on private land to identify suitable release sites, and implementing active management of the sites prior to re-introductions. A project planning process for a reintroduction program (in Year 1) will also be required and a detailed captive release protocol will be prepared by Year 2. Monitoring will be required to measure survivorship of re-introduced birds.
Priority: Very High
Potential contributors: OEH, National Recovery Team and the Northern Working Group

Action 3.5: Develop a Translocation Strategy to investigate and implement if required wild-to-wild translocation of birds from the southern or central populations in the event that captive breeding (using northern population birds) and release fails to achieve the outcome of augmenting the northern population
Priority: High
Potential contributors: EHP, National Recovery Team and Northern Working Group

Action 3.6: Complete a Translocation Strategy and Site Management Plan aimed at establishing a second southern population in Victoria. The Strategy will be prepared in Year 1 and will assess options for translocation, address policy and PVA issues and the Plan will occur in Year 2 and outline specific site management necessary for the successful establishment of the second population. Implementation of the actions in the Site Management Plan will occur in Year 3-5.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: DSE, Parks Victoria, National Recovery Team and Southern Working Group

OBJECTIVE 4: Conduct research to increase knowledge of ecology, threats and habitat management requirements of the Eastern Bristlebird.
In relative terms, the Eastern Bristlebird has been well-studied and its ecology is well understood. However, there is a lack of detailed ecological knowledge at a population-level to guide and critically evaluate management actions intended to recover populations and mitigate threats, including climate change.
Robust baseline information is essential for quantifying change, which will inform future strategies to assist the Eastern Bristlebird to cope with climate change (Hansen and Biringer 2003). Increased links with external research organisations and programs are essential for these actions to be implemented.

Recovery criterion 4: Greater ecological understanding, at a population-level, of the species, its habitat requirements and responses to management actions.

Action 4.1: Collect ecological data and habitat information to fill knowledge gaps at a population-level to guide and critically evaluate management actions. These data may include: microhabitat selection, recruitment rates, mortality factors, predation, diet and nutrition, fire, roadkill risk, home range or territory size, dispersal capacity and morphometric information for all populations.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Coordinated by National Recovery Team and Working Groups, Commonwealth and State Government agencies, research organisations, volunteers.

Action 4.2: Investigate scenarios for the management of the species. Undertake modelling to investigate management options for the species including bioclimatic analysis, study of the implications of climate change and investigation of possible adaptive strategies for the species.
This should be done with reference to the Population Viability Analysis as in Action 3.1.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: This is likely to be undertaken by an academic institution and coordinated by the National Recovery Team and Working Groups.

Action 4.3: Conduct further investigations into the genetic relationships between and within the four populations as required.
Priority: Low
Potential contributors: National Recovery Team and Working Groups

Action 4.4: Determine the sources of nest predation and disturbance and the effects of this disturbance on breeding outcomes in the northern population.
Priority: Low
Potential contributors: This is likely to be undertaken by an academic institution and coordinated by Northern Working Group, with input from species experts and volunteers.

OBJECTIVE 5: Increase community awareness, understanding and involvement in the Eastern Bristlebird recovery effort, particularly on private land. Improve communication between working groups and stakeholders including Australian and State Government agencies, CMAs and other NRM bodies, the Aboriginal community, landholders, land managers, rural fire services and interest groups.
Recovery criterion 5: Improved communication between stakeholders, increased involvement in the recovery actions by the Aboriginal community, interest groups and volunteers. Increased community awareness and ownership of the recovery of the Eastern Bristlebird will lead to increased opportunities for local populations of Eastern Bristlebirds to be detected and protected.
Action 5.1: Develop networking strategies to improve communication between stakeholders to facilitate increased involvement in the recovery program for all populations. This will help promote awareness of the precarious conservation status of the species, provide a potential pool of volunteers, and facilitate cooperative projects with established programs. Interest groups and the public must be kept informed of the problems facing the Eastern Bristlebird, actions being taken under this plan, and progress and achievements. Liaison with land managers will be undertaken at several different levels; by agency extension officers, the Recovery Team and Working Groups. Where appropriate this liaison should involve the development of informal partnerships with the land managers.
Effective communication is essential between the three working groups, Government agencies, researchers and stakeholder groups for the implementation of this plan. Improved coordination of data sharing between relevant groups will result from the establishment of shared and regularly updated databases and maps.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Coordinated by National Recovery Team, Working Groups and State Government agencies

Action 5.2: Support the ongoing community/volunteer survey program in the northern population. Establish or enhance similar programs in central and southern populations.
Develop consistent training guidelines and protocols for volunteers and birdwatching groups, etc. These will include bristlebird call recognition in each region at suitable locations and will discourage the use of unauthorised, non-scientific call playback at bristlebird sites in northern population. Interest groups and interested individuals should have the opportunity to participate in the recovery effort where practicable.
Priority: Medium
Potential contributors: National Recovery Team and Working Groups, State Government agencies, Birdlife Australia and community groups, volunteers.

Action 5.3: Recognise the cultural values of the Eastern Bristlebird to Aboriginal communities and engage these communities in the protection and management of bristlebird populations.
Continue consultation with Aboriginal groups to determine the significance of the species and its landscapes to Aboriginal people or whether recovery actions may occur in culturally important areas. Knowledge gained from the process will only be used by the Recovery Team with approval from the consulted communities. Seek advice from local Aboriginal community elders on appropriate site management regimes based on Indigenous knowledge. Involve local Aboriginal communities in on-ground management activities including providing training and employment opportunities. Seek partnerships with Aboriginal communities owning land that supports Eastern Bristlebird habitat or potential habitat to prepare property management plans and seek funding to manage the properties for protecting Eastern Bristlebirds.
Priority: Medium
Potential contributors: State and Commonwealth agencies, Aboriginal groups and individuals, National Recovery Team and Working Groups.

Action 5.4: Encourage private landholders with bristlebird habitat to engage in conservation agreements with regional bodies (CMAs, NRM bodies, Nature Conservation Trust, etc.) in northern and central populations.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: CMAs, NRM groups, State Government agencies, landholders, National Recovery Team and Working Groups.


OBJECTIVE 6: Effectively organise and administer the recovery effort to ensure that recovery plan objectives are met.
Recovery criterion 6: Recovery objectives achieved within the life of this plan, with high levels of stakeholder and Government support. New ecological and threat management information reviewed and incorporated into recovery actions.
Action 6.1: The National Recovery Team and three regional working groups (for the southern, central and northern populations) will continue to meet annually and share information as appropriate.
The National Recovery Team will oversee and coordinate recovery actions, assist implementation of this plan, review the progress of the recovery across the species range and advise on refinements to the plan in the next review period. Regional working groups will identify detailed actions, specific to each population including local monitoring, survey and extension tasks, as well as recommendations, which flow from research as outlined below. Working Groups will continue to include at least one member of the National Recovery Team and local representatives of CMAs, NRM groups, Commonwealth and State Government agencies, interest groups, local government, etc. National Recovery Team meetings will be held in each region on a rotational basis.
This is a complex and multi-disciplinary recovery effort including numerous individuals and organisations. It is imperative that all parties make a long-term commitment to the implementation of this plan through collaboration, consultation and effective communication. Working groups will liaise with all relevant government agencies, LandCare groups, bird study organisations and other NGOs; attendance at meetings will vary from time to time depending upon the actions needed to achieve the recovery objective.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Coordinated by the convenors of the National Recovery Team and Regional Working Groups, with representatives from Australian and State Government, CMAs, NRM bodies, etc.

Action 6.2: Regional working groups should develop a plan of action or business plan specifically for their region. In conjunction with the National Recovery Team, each group will develop a concise plan based on guidelines developed by the National Team. The plans will list, in priority order, the priority actions, and the individuals or agencies involved. These plans will incorporate many of the actions described in the National Recovery Plan and will be endorsed by all parties before finalisation. The Northern Working Group has a draft business plan (Charley 2010).
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Coordinated by the convenors of the National Recovery Team and Regional Working Groups, with representatives from Australian and State Government, CMAs, NRM bodies, etc.

Action 6.3: Ongoing and regular review of population monitoring results, fire management prescriptions and vegetation management response monitoring. Within five years of adoption of this recovery plan, the National Recovery Team will contribute to a review of the success of implementing the actions in this plan. All working group members will be asked to contribute and participate in the review.
Priority: High
Potential contributors: Coordinated by National Recovery Team, with input from Regional Working Groups, State Government agencies and community stakeholders.

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