Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement advice for predation, habitat degradation,competition and disease transmission by feral pigs (2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Reduction in Impacts of Tramp Ants on Biodiversity in Australia and its Territories (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzq) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Black-breasted Button-quail - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005mo) [Internet].
NSW:Black-breasted Button-quail Threatened Species Information (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 1999cb) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Schedules 2007-2009 (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2009b) [State Species Management Plan].
QLD:Black-breasted button-quail (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2013c) [Database].
Non-government
    Documents and Websites
Biodiversity Recovery Plan for Gatton and Laidley Shires, South-East Queensland 2003-2008 (Boyes, B., 2004).
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Critically Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Near Threatened (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Turnix melanogaster [923]
Family Turnicidae:Gruiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Gould,1837)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.npws.nsw.gov.au/wildlife/thr_profiles/bbbtqul.pdf

Scientific name: Turnix melanogaster.

Common name: Black-breasted Button-quail.

The Black-breasted Button-quail is a conventionally accepted species.

The Black-breasted Button-quail is a large, plump, pale-eyed button-quail. It is similar in size to the Painted Button-quail. The male Black-breasted Button-quails are about 18 cm long, with a wingspan of 32-35 cm, and weighing 65g. The females are larger, weighing 100g. The sexes differ in plumage, and there is no seasonal variation. Males have finely patterned backs and wings with brown, black, grey and white mottling. The face and throat are whitish and the breast is black with numerous white half-moon markings. The female is similar in all respects except for having a black face and throat, a larger dark area over the upper and lower breast and heavier white half-moon markings on the upper and lower breast. The bill is grey and the legs are pale yellow. Juveniles resemble males but are duller (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Black-breasted Button quail are commonly seen in pairs or occasionally in small groups. Being territorial, females are occasionally seen singly (Hughes & Hughes 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The Black-breasted Button-quail is endemic to eastern Australia. It is restricted to coastal and near-coastal regions of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. The main populations occur within south-east Queensland.

Present-day known distribution in Queensland extends from near Byfield in the north, south to the New South Wales border and westwards to Palm Grove National Park and Barakula State Forest (Marchant & Higgins 1993; M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.). The most significant populations appear to be in the Yarraman-Nanango, Jimna-Conondale and Great Sandy regions (Bennett 1985; Hamley et al. 1997; M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

In north-eastern New South Wales, they are restricted to the Northern Rivers and Tablelands (Marchant & Higgins 1993). There have been only 10 confirmed records from New South Wales in the past 20 or so years, these from six areas in the far north-east (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Milledge & McKinley 1998). In New South Wales the species is found as far south as the Walcha-Yarrowitch area and near Dorrigo (Smyth & Young 1996).

In Queensland prior to about 1900, this species was probably fairly widespread in the Dawson and Fitzroy River catchments, but these populations have declined dramatically since then (Bennett 1985; Garnett & Crowley 2000). They probably now only occur at Palm Grove in this region (Hamley et al. 1997).

The extent of occurrence is estimated to be approximately 5200 km², but this estimate is only of medium reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Overall the extent of occurrence is believed to have decreased, especially in Queensland where there have been few recent records from much of the Rockhampton and Dawson River areas. The apparent decline of the species from this region has had a significant impact on reducing its extent of occurrence (Bennett 1985; Garnett & Crowley 2000). Available data suggest that as a result of habitat loss, the species' extent of occurrence has contracted to 35-50% of its former distribution (Bennett 1985; Hamley et al. 1997).

There is no evidence to suggest that there has been a major decline in the extent of occurrence within the past decade. Most habitat clearance occurred up until the mid 1900s and the majority of current habitat is protected on public land (Hamley et al. 1997).

Total area of occupancy is estimated to be approximately 750 km², but this estimate is of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000). This was estimated from the number of 1 kmē grid squares in which the species is thought to occur at the time when its population is most constrained.

It is likely that the area of occupancy is underestimated due to the cryptic nature of the species and the difficulty of observing birds. Results of targeted searches may expand the area of occupancy. One of the key methods of detecting the presence of birds in an area is the presence of feeding traces (platelets) (Bennett 1985; McConnell & Hobson 1995; DPI & F 1996). However, many databases, such as the Atlas of Australian Birds, do not accept records other than direct observation (A. Silcocks July 2005, pers. comm.). This may further act to underestimate actual area of occupancy.

Populations have become severely fragmented since European settlement, mostly due to clearance of forests and bushland for agriculture (Hamley et al. 1997). There are approximately 25 sub-populations of this species and most of these are probably isolated in fragments (Garnett & Crowley 2000). A survey in south-eastern Queensland indicated that there were 14 discrete areas where this species occurs, and there is also some fragmentation within these areas (Hamley et al. 1997 in Garnett & Crowley 2000).

A lack of knowledge of the species' dispersal capability and propensity makes it difficult to determine whether isolated groups represent single interbreeding populations (Hamley et al. 1997). However, given the species' specialised habitat requirements and lack of records from intervening cleared land and other habitats, it may be surmised that little interchange occurs between widely fragmented populations.

During a survey of south-eastern Queensland from May 1992 to October 1993, with incidental observations up to and including 1996 (Hamley et al. 1997), birds were seen, or believed to be present, at a total of 75 sites in 14 discrete groups around the following locations (from north to south): Marlborough; Palm Grove; Kalpower; Bundaberg; Maryborough-Wide Bay-Fraser I.; Auburn River; Goomeri lowlands; Conondale Ranges; Yarraman-Nanango; Bunya Mountains; D'Aguilar Ranges; Toowoomba-Lockyer Valley; Boonah-Mt French; Border Ranges. These sites are still occupied today, with the largest populations in the Conondale, Yarraman-Nanango and Wide Bay-Fraser regions (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

Information on birds in New South Wales is limited and recent records have been obtained only from eight broad locations: Yorklea, Nightcap Range, Rocky Dam, Whian Whian State Conservation Area, Toolom Scrub, Walcha-Yarrowitch, near Dorrigo and near Tenterfield (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Smyth & Young 1996).

Although the species is commonly kept in captivity by aviculturists, there are presently no captive populations maintained with the express purpose of supplementing wild populations (M. Mathieson July 2005 pers. comm.).

A survey of this species was conducted in south-eastern Queensland from May 1992 to October 1993, with incidental observations up to and including 1996 (Hamley et al. 1997).

Ongoing surveys are being conducted by the Queensland EPA and a call has been made for volunteers to search for the species and report sightings (Smith & Mathieson 2004).

Until further surveys are completed, it is unlikely that the current known distribution and population size accurately reflect the actual distribution and population size.

The total population is estimated at 5000 breeding birds. However, this estimate is of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The cryptic and shy nature of the species and, hence, the difficulty of observation, makes it difficult to quantify information on total population numbers.

It has been estimated that there are 25 sub-populations (Garnett & Crowley 2000). There are known to be 14 subpopulations in Queensland (Hamley et al. 1997; M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.). There is a paucity of recent records from New South Wales (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Milledge & McKinley 1998; Smith & Mathieson 2004). Though recent records have been obtained from six locations (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The actual number of subpopulations could be greater (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm).

The largest known sub-populations occur in the Great Sandy region (including Great Sandy National Park), the Yarraman-Nanago region (including Tarong National Park) and the Conondale Ranges region (M. Mathieson, pers. comm.). While Garnett and Crowley (2000) state that the largest sub-population occurs in a 3 km by 100 km strip along the eastern side of Fraser Island in Queensland, this claim has not be confirmed, as there have been no detailed studies to determine the population size (or habitat use) of the Black-breasted Button-quail on Fraser Island (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm).

In Queensland the species is known to occur in eight national parks (e.g. Bunya Mountains, Lamington, Mt French, Palm Grove, Ravensbourne National Parks) and seven other controlled areas (e.g. council reserves, military areas). The majority of populations occur in State Forest (34 separate forests) with a number of populations also occurring on freehold land (DPI & F 1996; Hamley et al. 1997).

Status of subpopulations in New South Wales is less well known and there even is some doubt as to whether the species still exists in that state (Smith & Mathieson 2004). Bennett (1985) states that there are four locations in the far north-east of the state where the species has been recorded, while Garnett & Crowley (2000) state that reliable records from six areas have been made in the last two decades.

Garnett and Crowley (2000) state that the population of the species is in decline. However, there are few empirical data to support this. While population declines would have occurred during the 19th and early 20th centuries when much of the button-quail's habitat was destroyed, it is difficult to determine trends in the population over the past decade owing to the lack of long-term surveys and the cryptic nature of the species.

Many aspects of the species' population ecology, such as dispersal and the effect of fragmentation on breeding systems, remain poorly known (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

This species is not known to undergo extreme natural fluctuations, although changes in population numbers have been reported. Many were recorded at Murphy's Creek, in the autumn and winter of 1927, but not before or since then (Lord 1932 in Garnett & Crowley 2000). Hughes and Hughes (1991) report that numbers of this species near Widgee, Queensland, increased from one female in 1966 until they were seen in all areas of suitable habitat by 1972. The factors leading to such irruptions and fluctuations in populations remain poorly known, although it is suspected that rainfall and fire regimes may play a role (Hughes & Hughes 1991).

Generation length is estimated at 3 years. However, this estimate is of low reliability as there is no reliable life history data available for this species in the wild (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The subpopulations of the Yarraman-Nanago, Jimna-Conondale Range and Great Sandy regions are of key importance due to their size and the land being of State-owned tenure. Other important subpopulations include those at the Palm Grove National Park and the Barakula State Forest area because they appear to be the last remnant populations within an area where the species was formerly widespread (Hamley et al. 1997). All populations in New South Wales are important, especially those at the southern limit of the species' range near Dorrigo and Walcha. These are important source populations which are required to be maintained if the species is to persist in the long-term in New South Wales (Smyth & Young 1996).

Although the Black-breasted Button-quail and the Painted Button-quail Turnix varia occur together in several locations, no cross-breeding has been recorded (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

In Queensland, reserves where this species occurs include Sharon Gorge Nature Park, Boat Mountain Environmental Park, Tarong, Great Sandy, Palm Grove, Bunya Mountains, Ravensbourne, Mount French, Spicer's Gap and Lamington National Parks (Hamley et al. 1997).

In New South Wales the species is likely to occur in the Border Ranges, Mount Warning, Wollumbin, Nightcap, Toonumbar and Richmond Range National Parks as well as in the Whian Whian State Conservation Area.

The Black-breasted Button-quail is restricted to rainforests and forests, mostly in areas with 770-1200 mm rainfall per annum (Bennett 1985; Hughes & Hughes 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993). They prefer drier low closed forests, particularly semi-evergreen vine thicket, low microphyll vine forest, araucarian microphyll vine forest and araucarian notophyll vine forest (Bennett 1985; Hughes & Hughes 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Milledge 2000; Smyth et al. 2001). They may also be found in low, dense acacia thickets and, in littoral area, in vegetation behind sand dunes (Smith & Mathieson 2004).

Many areas of optimum habitat are located on highly fertile soils. It is believed that the highly fertile soils promote rapid leaf growth on plants. During dry periods, much of the foliage then drops to the ground thus maintaining the deep leaf litter layer which is crucial to the foraging requirements of the species (Smith & Mathieson 2004).

Many reports are from dry forest described as Bottletree Scrub, comprising Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla), Belah (Casuarina cristata) and Bottletree (Brachychiton rupestris), with or without emergent Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), with a shrub understorey and thick litter layer (Barnard 1925; Bennett 1985). Much of this vegetation type, especially in the Fitzroy and Dawson valleys has been grossly depleted (Hamley et al. 1997).

In Googa State Forest, south-eastern Queensland, birds are most commonly associated with remnant microphyll vine forest with no lantana in the understorey, but lantana is often used for diurnal foraging and nocturnal roosting. This species has been recorded as far as 60 m into mature Hoop Pine plantations. A mosaic of Lantana and emergent vine forest species appears to be important for cover (Smith et al. 1998).

In littoral areas, the species associates with vegetation behind dunes, namely vine scrubs and thickets, acacia thickets and areas densely covered in shrubs, particularly Midgen Berry Austromyrtus dulcis and Lantana. (Smith & Mathieson 2004). In the Great Sandy region of southeast Queensland, Black-breasted button-quail occur in Brush Box (Tristania conferta), Pink Bloodwood (Eucalyptus intermedia) and Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) forest, with an understorey of Black She-oak (Allocasuarina littoralis), acacias, lantana and berry-bearing shrubs (Bennett 1985).

In south-eastern Queensland, they are recorded on rare occasions in open eucalypt forest: for example, Smyth et al. (2001) recorded a bird (almost certainly transient) in Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus siderophloia) with a low sparse shrub layer of eucalypt and acacia seedlings, and a sparse ground cover of short tussock grasses and leaf litter. An extensive dense leaf-litter layer is required for foraging (Hughes & Hughes 1991) and possibly also roosting (McConnell & Hobson 1995). Fallen logs and a dense, heterogeneously distributed shrub layers are also considered to be important habitat characteristics for shelter and breeding (Smith et al. 1998; Smyth & Young 1996).

The species has also recorded from vine forest remnants between Hoop Pine plantations and agricultural land (Smith et al. 1998) and occasionally in areas of pasture grass adjacent to habitat areas (Hughes & Hughes 1991).
No information is available on the species' preferences for refuge habitat but areas geographically protected from frequent burning where deep leaf litter can accumulate and persist are likely to be of importance (M. Mathieson July 2005 pers. comm.).

There is no information concerning sexual maturity or life-span of birds in the wild. Mortality from native and introduced predators may be high due to feeding methods and ground-dwelling behaviour but remains to be quantified (Birds Australia July 2005, pers. comm.).
The following information is based largely on a summary of observations of 15 nests from south-east Queensland and north-east NSW, as well as previously published information (Smyth & Young 1996).

The breeding season generally occurs from September to April-May (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.). At one site in south-eastern Queensland, juveniles were observed in all except one month, suggesting that breeding can occur throughout the year at certain localities (Hughes & Hughes 1991; Smyth & Young 1996). The onset and finish of the breeding season may be affected by climatic factors such as minimum daily temperature and rainfall, e.g. a reduction in the amount of food available, caused by dropping temperatures, probably causes the breeding season to end (Smyth & Young 1996; M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.). However, the relationship between rainfall and breeding season is not clear (Smyth & Young 1996).

Between three and five eggs are laid, with a mean clutch-size of 3.88 (Smyth & Young 1996). Nests consist of a scrape in the ground, lined with leaves, grass or moss. Nests are well-concealed and placed in the buttress root of a tree or sapling, the base of a fern or under a low bush or grass tussock (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Smyth & Young 1996).

Nests are often in areas where the common understorey plants include species such as Bracken (Pteridium esculentum), Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera) and Lantana (Lantana camara) (Smyth & Young 1996).

The incubation period in the wild is 18-21 days (Smyth & Young 1996). Only the male incubates (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Smyth & Young 1996). During the breeding season, females are territorial toward other females, but not males. Males possibly hold small temporary territories for courtship and mating, these being within a female's larger territory. The female apparently mates with several males in succession (Smyth & Young 1996). Mating takes place within the female's own territory and, on occasions, within the adjacent territories of other females (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.). The female can lay two clutches 8-10 days apart (Smyth & Young 1996).

The diet is mostly invertebrates, taken from litter on the forest floor (Hughes & Hughes 1991; Lees & Smith 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993; McConnell & Hobson 1995), but seeds are also possibly taken (Smyth 1997).

Analysis of fresh faecal pellets indicates prey items include spiders, ants, centipedes, millipedes, beetles and land snails (Nitor pudibundus). Beetles, ants and spiders are possibly the major food items (McConnell & Hobson 1995). Spilled grain and chicken food are also reported food items (Bennett 1985). The presence of this species in areas with a diverse understorey of berry producing shrubs may indicate that berries provide an important seasonal food resource (M. Mathieson July 2005 pers. comm.).

Birds use a pivot foraging action, digging in leaf litter with their feet and pivoting in a circular fashion before moving onto a new location (McConnell & Hobson 1995). Foraging birds create distinctive crater-like depressions (called platelets) in the leaf litter (Hughes & Hughes 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The ground-foraging behaviour and noise of rustling leaf litter may render this species susceptible to predation by native and introduced predators. The impact of this remains to be quantified (Birds Australia July 2005, pers comm).

The dispersion patterns of this species are poorly known. It is generally considered to be sedentary, although it can appear intermittently or as a transient in other areas (Lees & Smith 2000, Marchant & Higgins 1993; Smith et al. 1998).

There is no evidence of seasonal or long-distance movements (S. Bennett in Marchant & Higgins 1993). Although the species is considered to be sedentary, it is possible that irruptions may occur following breeding or favourable climatic events (see Section 1, Part 19).

A radio-tracking study of 11 birds (nine adults, two sub-adults) in remnant vine forest in Googa State Forest, south-east Queensland, in 1995-1996 (Smith et al. 1998; Lees & Smith 2000) found that estimated home-ranges ranged from 1.9 ha to 6.2 ha in undisturbed native forest and hoop pine plantations. Home ranges overlapped considerably, both within and between sexes. and 73% of radio-tracking fixes were within vine forest, and 27% within lantana thickets (Smith et al. 1998). In plantations, activity areas increased greatly after harvesting (Lees & Smith 2000).

The Black-breasted Button-quail is shy, inconspicuous and highly cryptic. It is usually detected by observation of birds that flush or walk away after being disturbed. It may also be detected by scratching noises made when foraging in the leaf litter. Platelets may indicate presence of birds but are not conclusive as these are also made by other button-quail species (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

Males and juveniles could possibly be confused with the Painted Button-quail but can be distinguished by darker upperparts lacking bright rufous markings and pale iris (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

In the past this species may have been trapped (Sharland 1959 in Marchant & Higgins 1993) for aviculture (Jack 1961 in Marchant & Higgins 1993). However, trapping is unlikely to be impacting upon the current population due to the abundance and low cost of the species in the aviary trade (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

Massive clearance of forest for agriculture and forestry has reduced the species habitat by an estimated 90% (Bennett 1985; Garnett & Crowley 2000). This has been particularly exacerbated by the preference of this species, in some areas, for vegetation on highly fertile soils which was preferentially cleared for agriculture (DPI & F 1996; Smith & Mathieson 2004). The clearance of Bottletree Scrubs as part of the Fitzroy Development Scheme during the 1950s and 60s is believed to have eliminated up to 95% of the species' habitat in the Fitzroy-Dawson valleys, resulting in its near extinction within that region (Bennett 1985; Hamley et al.1997). Timber harvesting continues to threaten the species today (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

Sub-populations in the remaining fragmented habitats are affected by grazing and other disturbances caused by cattle, horses and feral pigs. Excessive grazing and trampling may reduce the amount of understorey vegetation and deep leaf litter on which the species relies. This impact can be exacerbated during periods of drought when pasture in surrounding areas is diminished. Wallabies have also been implicated as a cause of habitat disturbance (Marchant & Higgins 1993; DPI & F 1996; Garnett & Crowley 2000), but other observers believe that wallabies are not a concern (M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

Frequent fire eliminates shrubby understorey in dry rainforest remnants and can reduce the amount of leaf litter on the ground, rendering habitat unsuitable (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hughes & Hughes 1991). Numbers of this species increased near Widgee, Queensland, once burning off at 2-4 year intervals had ceased and a deep leaf litter layer was allowed to develop (Hughes & Hughes 1991).

Remnant vine forest adjacent to Hoop Pine plantations and agricultural land is an important refuge for the species. Potential agricultural intensification and plantation management may adversely affect this habitat through clearing or slashing and burning to reduce fire risk (Smith et al. 1998; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Being ground-nesters, they are also affected by predation by cats, foxes and pigs (Garnett & Crowley 2000; M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.) although this may only pose a minor risk for this species (Hughes & Hughes 1991).

Urban development is also considered to be a threat for the species where suitable habitat occurs on the outskirts of population centres, however the impact of this threat remains to be quantified (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Due to the fragmented nature of the species' habitat and its populations, all of the above threats have the potential to cause local extinction if nearby source populations do not exist to colonise affected remnants in the future. The synergistic impacts of the threats outlined above are likely to continue to cause incremental population and habitat decline in the absence of effective management strategies (Garnett & Crowley 2000; M. Mathieson July 2005, pers. comm.).

Actions completed or under way, as identified in The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000are:

  • Detailed surveys have been conducted in Queensland (excluding Fraser Island).
  • Research has been undertaken to determine habitat use, particularly of hoop pine plantations (Garnett & Crowley 2000).
  • A comprehensive survey for the species, soliciting the help of volunteer observers, has commenced in suitable habitat throughout south east Queensland (Smith & Mathieson 2004).

Management actions required, relating to threat abatement, in the same document are:

  • Survey potential habitat for this species before licensing clearing, burning, logging, roading and grazing.
  • Ensure appropriate conservation management of all remaining breeding habitat.
  • Rehabilitate and consolidate habitat fragments.
  • Prepare a management plan for remaining vine thickets (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Management and recovery objectives are generally carried out under the guidance of the Queensland Environment Protection Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the Department of Primary Industries and Forestry. In New South Wales, the Department of Environment and Conservation and State Forests New South Wales are the primary agencies responsible for the conservation of this species and its habitat.


The Upper Clarence Combined Landcare Inc received $4,480 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03, part of which was for the reduction of impacts of predation by foxes on this species through co-ordinated on-ground action to educate landholders, and also to raise community awareness and initiate partnerships between stakeholders.

Friends of the Escarpment Parks (Toowoomba, Qld) Inc received $13 990 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2005-06 for containment and reduction of weeds adjacent to quail habitat, as well as maintenance and monitoring of the site.

Major studies on the species have been published by Bennett (1985), Hamley et al. (1997), Lees and Smith (2000), McConnell and Hobson (1995), Smith et al. (1998) and Smyth and Young (1996).

A draft recovery plan was prepared by Smyth (1997), and a revised draft recovery plan in currently in preparation by Mathieson and Smith.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat alteration (vegetation, soil, hydrology) due to trampling and grazing by livestock Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements The Impact of Global Warming on the Distribution of Threatened Vertebrates (ANZECC 1991) (Dexter, E.M., A.D. Chapman & J.R. Busby, 1995) [Report].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Wood and Pulp Plantations:Habitat destruction due to forestry activities Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Black-breasted Button-quail (Smyth, A., 1995) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Black-breasted Button-quail (Smyth, A., 1995) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Canis lupus familiaris (Domestic Dog) National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001ab) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation by kangaroos and wallabies Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan - NSW & Queensland (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010n) [State Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006zq) [Internet].
National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development of roads and railroads National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith, 2009) [Recovery Plan].

Barnard, C.A. (1925). A review of the birdlife on Coomooboolaroo Station, Duaringa District, Queensland, during the past fifty years. Emu. 24:252-265.

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Birds Australia (2005a). Personal communication.

DPI & F (1996). Now you see us... On the trail of the elusive Black-breasted Button-quails. Between The Leaves.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Hamley, T., P. Flower & G.C. Smith (1997). Present and past distribution of the Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster (Gould) in Queensland. Sunbird. 27:1--21.

Hughes, P. & B. Hughes (1991). Notes on the Black-breasted Button-quail at Widgee, Queensland. Australian Bird Watcher. 14:113-118.

Lees, N. & G.C. Smith (1998). An assessment of faeces as a reliable indicator of the occurrence of Black-breasted Button-quail and Painted Button-quail. Sunbird. 28:41-49.

Lees, N. & G.C. Smith (2000). Use of mature hoop pine plantation by the vulnerable Black-breasted Button-quail (Turnix melanogaster). Australian Forestry. 62:330-335.

Marchant, S. & P.J. Higgins, eds. (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2 - Raptors to Lapwings. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Mathieson, M.T. & G.C. Smith (2009). National recovery plan for the black-breasted button-quail Turnix melanogaster. [Online]. Report to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Brisbane, QLD: Department of Environment and Resource Management. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/black-breasted-button-quail.html.

McConnell, P. & R. Hobson (1995). The diet and behaviour of the Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster. Sunbird. 25:18-23.

Milledge, D.R. & A.L. McKinley (1998). The distribution, status and habitat of the Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster in north-eastern NSW. Stage 1. Collation of habitat data from surveys of known and potential habitat in Queensland and records in New South Wales. Report to NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Coffs Harbour.

Smith, G.C. & M. Mathieson (2004). Black-breasted button-quail. Wingspan. September:34-35.

Smith, G.C., J. Aridis & N. Lees (1998). Radio-tracking revealed home-ranges of Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster in remnant vine scrub between Hoop Pine plantation and agriculture. Emu. 98:171-177.

Smyth, A. (1997). Draft recovery plan for Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster. Qld Dept Environment & Heritage, Brisbane.

Smyth, A.K. & J. Young (1996). Observations on the endangered Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster breeding in the wild. Emu. 96:202-207.

Smyth, A.K., Noble, D. & C. Wiley (2001). Black-breasted Button-quail in open eucalypt forest in south-eastern Queensland. Australian Bird Watcher. 19:45-47.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Turnix melanogaster in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 05:27:29 +1000.