National Multi-species Recovery plan for the Partridge Pigeon [eastern subspecies] Geophaps smithii smithii, Crested Shrike-tit [northern (sub)species] Falcunculus (frontatus) whitei, Masked Owl [north Australian mainland subspecies] Tyto novaehollandiae kimberli; and Masked Owl [Tiwi Islands subspecies] Tyto novaehollandiae melvillensis, 2004 – 2008
A Recovery Plan prepared under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment, 2004
This Recovery Plan describes the status and ecology of, and management requirements for, four threatened bird taxa, the Tiwi masked owl Tyto novaehollandiae melvillensis, the north Australian mainland subspecies of masked owl T. n. kimberli, the northern (crested) shrike-tit Falcunculus (frontatus) whitei and the eastern subspecies of partridge pigeon Geophaps smithii smithii. All four taxa are restricted to northern Australia, and occur predominantly in eucalypt open forests and savanna woodlands. There are some important commonalities and important differences in ecology and conservation issues among the four taxa. Knowledge of three of the taxa (the two masked owl subspecies and the northern shrike-tit) is rudimentary, and inadequate to define in any detail priorities for recovery management. The partridge pigeon has probably declined substantially, most likely because of altered fire regimes. Over a broad-scale, it may also be detrimentally affected by the spread of exotic pasture plants, predation by feral cats, and the impacts upon vegetation of grazing by livestock and feral stock. It is possible that masked owls have also been affected by these factors that have pervasively altered north Australian landscapes: in particular, they may have suffered resource depletion through broad-scale decline of native mammals and decrease in the number of large hollow-bearing trees (although there is little direct supportive evidence of the latter). There is no convincing evidence of historic change in the status of northern shrike-tit, but it is conceivable that it too has been affected by landscape-scale change due to the effects of altered fire regimes and pastoralism. In addition to these responses to pervasive change, all taxa may suffer local losses through current and proposed vegetation clearance and land-use intensification.
This Recovery Plan describes a series of actions aimed at enhancing the status of all four taxa (and a broad range of co-occurring native plants and animals). These actions comprise the establishment of a coordinating body that assists with the enhanced management and recovery of north Australian threatened species; clearly targeted research and surveys that aim to increase the current limited knowledge base to a level adequate for appropriately informed management; and the immediate implementation of specific management actions. These latter include actions to improve fire management, to minimise risks and/or impacts associated with intensification of land-use, and to improve regulation relating to the use of invasive exotic pasture plants.