Noisy Scrub-bird (Atrichornis clamosus) Recovery Plan

Alan Danks1, Andrew A. Burbidge2, Allan H. Burbidge2 and Graeme T. Smith3
ISSN 0816-9713

4. RECOVERY ACTIONS

The Noisy Scrub-bird Recovery Team described in Section 2.9 above will continue to meet regularly to coordinate, review and revise if necessary the implementation of this Recovery Plan. The recovery actions presented below have been costed at 1992 prices. Unless otherwise stated CALM contributions include salaries. Amounts identified as 'ESP' are those that are being provided by the Australian Nature Conservation Agency through the National Endangered Species Program.

The Recovery team will report annually on the implementation of the plan to CALM's Corporate Executive and funding agencies.

4.1 Prepare and implement a Management Plan for Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve

4.1.1 Preparation of Management Plan

A new Management Plan for the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve was partly drafted in 1989, but was not finalised because of staff changes and because of changing priorities. Work was re-commenced in 1992 and the Plan was released for public comment in June 1993 CALM (1993). The final Plan was accepted by the National Parks and Nature Conservation Authority late in 1994 and approved by the Minister for the Environment in 1995. The term of the plan is ten years, with annual review.

Responsibility: CALM Planning Branch and CALM South Coast Region.

Cost  1993 
CALM  33500 
Total Cost  33500 

4.1.2 Implementation of Management Plan

Once approved, the Management Plan must be implemented. The primary management aim for the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve is to conserve the Noisy Scrub-bird and other threatened species. Whilst the Reserve has other values (including the conservation of additional threatened species) it is difficult to separate out costs associated only with these other values, and so they are all included below.

The Management Plan proposes the construction of a visitor information and education facility to inform visitors to the Reserve about the conservation of the Noisy Scrub-bird and other threatened animals that occur there. The facility is estimated to cost about $240 000. A sponsor will be sought to meet the costs of construction.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District, South Coast Region.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  82000  139000  83000  74000  74000  74000  74000  74000  74000  74000 
ESP  2000  2000  4500  2000  4500  2400  4900  2400  2400  2400 
Total Cost  84000  141000  87500  76000  78500  76400  76900  76400  76400  76400 

4.1.3 Review of Management Plan

It is a requirement of the plan that its implementation be reviewed annually. The review will identify the extent to which the recommendations have been implemented and objectives achieved. It will identify new information which affects the management of the reserve and determine how management should be modified based on such information, and propose amendments to the plan as necessary. Implementation of the Management Plan will be monitored by the National Parks and Nature Conservation Authority.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM 

1000

2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500 
Total Cost  1000  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500  2500 

4.2 Management of other lands with scrub-bird populations

Management of other lands with Noisy Scrub-bird subpopulations and of corridors between subpopulations is required to maintain scrub-bird numbers, promote dispersal of birds (and hence gene-flow) between subpopulations and prevent the introduction or spread of the dieback disease. Movement between areas will be difficult to detect. If natural dispersal can not be proved, translocations between subpopulations will be required in order to ensure gene flow.

The management of Noisy Scrub-birds will be taken into account in the preparation and revision of management plans or interim guidelines for CALM-managed areas that either currently support scrub-birds or are identified by the Recovery Team as translocation sites. The involvement of CALM districts other than Albany District will be necessary as new translocation sites are identified.

4.2.1 CALM-managed public lands in the Albany District

Responsibility: CALM Albany District

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000 
Total Cost  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000  65000 

4.2.2 Other public lands

Liaison with managers of other public lands where scrub-birds occur (such as the Angove water reserve and Boulder Hill), or may be found in future, will be the responsibility of CALM Albany District staff.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500 
Total Cost  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500  4500 

4.2.3 Private property

Liaison with private landowners where scrub-birds occur or which are existing or potential corridors for scrub-bird movement between subpopulations will be the responsibility of CALM Albany District staff.

Costs covered under 4.2.2

4.3 Translocations

Within the Albany Management Zone, apart from possible releases to top up or re-establish populations, no further translocations will be conducted during the period of this plan. If new release sites are available to the west of Albany translocations to these sites can begin in 1995.

It is envisaged that most birds will be taken from the Mt Gardner population concentration within Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. This area has the highest number of scrub-birds and has been shown to be able to withstand current cropping rates. If numbers of singing males are reduced significantly in this subpopulation birds will be taken from the Mt Manypeaks area. Ideally, translocations will be carried out by initially transferring between five and ten males to a site followed by a similar number of females if the males persist at that site for 12 months.

4.3.1 Research into release area selection

Current methods for selecting release sites require a subjective assessment of habitat suitability based on familiarity with scrub-bird habitat, since there are no data on scrub-bird habitat parameters which would allow measurable comparisons between occupied and potential sites. This approach has not been reliable in areas distant from Two Peoples Bay.

In 1992, a student from Murdoch University made further studies on the diet of Two Peoples Bay birds, utilising birds captured for translocation, via faecal analysis, feeding behaviour and studies of litter invertebrates within scrub-bird territories (Welbon 1993). Further research will be conducted to investigate whether habitat parameters, eg, leaf litter quantity, litter invertebrate species diversity and biomass, can be correlated with scrub-bird use and breeding. The aim will be to provide a quantitative method of evaluating possible translocation sites. In the meantime the present approach will be continued and improved with experience.

Radio-tracking of translocated birds is aimed at increasing understanding of scrub-bird behaviour in new sites. It will also assist in determining which micro-habitats are preferred by scrub-birds. Data from radio-tracking can be used to determine whether translocation methods can be improved.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District, CALM Science and Information Division and CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
a) habitat/food parameters                     
CALM                     
Albany  1600  1600  1600  1600  1600 
ESP  2900  2900  2900  2900  2900 
b) radio-tracking                     
CALM                     
Woodvale  5900  5900  5900  5900  5900  5900 
Albany  2500  2500  2700  2700  2700  2700 
ESP  2600  2600  2800  2800  2800  2800 

Total Cost

15500  15500  15900  15900  15900  11400 

4.3.2 Release area selection

In the area west of Albany, release areas will be sought which are capable of supporting subpopulations of at least 40 singing males and of being connected by corridors within a single management zone. The aim will be to find a management zone with a minimum of four sites; if this is not possible the aim will be to find one with three sites, then two sites. If areas are not found that are deemed capable of maintaining a subpopulation of 40 singing males, areas will be sought that can support at least 20 singing males.

The search for translocation sites will be developed in stages. First the area west and north of Albany will be examined, then the area between Walpole and the Blackwood River and then the west coast, including the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, where sites will be sought similar to those where scrub-birds were recorded in the Drakesbrook - Mt William area last century.

Selection of release areas west of Albany will be the priority for the first two years of this plan.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998 
CALM  8000  8000  8000  8000  8000  8000 
ESP  10000  12700  12700  12700  12700  12700 
Total  18000  20700  20700  20700  20700  20700 

4.3.3 Carrying out translocations

Translocations will be subject to approval as laid down in CALM Policy Statement No 29. Translocations of scrub-birds to sites initiated in 1992 will be completed by 1994. Beginning in 1995, or earlier if a suitable site is decided upon, scrub-birds will be translocated to new areas west of Albany. Translocations of scrub-birds will take place during June and July each year. Ideally, five to ten males will be released at each site followed by a similar number of females in the next breeding season if the males survive. Given adequate resources it should be possible to translocate to two sites in most years.

Table 3. Tentative translocation program by year, 1993 to 2002

Site          Translocation           
  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
E of Albany                     
1. Bald Island 
+
 
?
 
?
 
             
2. Mermaid 
+
 
?
 
?
 
             
W of Albany                     
1. New Site a   
+
 
+
 
?
 
?
 
         
2. New Site b     
+
 
+
 
?
 
?
 
       
3. New Site c       
?
 
+
 
+
 
?
 
?
 
   
4. New Site d       
?
 
+
 
+
 
?
 
?
 
   
5. New Site e           
?
 
+
 
+
 
?
 
?
 
6. New Site f           
?
 
+
 
+
 
?
 
?
 

Responsibility: CALM Albany District.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  33100  33100  33100  36100  36100  36100  36100  36100  36100  36100 
ESP  25300  12300  12300  12300  12300  12300  12300  12300  9500  9500 
Total  58400  45400  45400  48400  48400  48400  48400  48400  45600  45600 

CALM costs include salaries and wages of CALM staff, vehicle costs and $6 000 per year for equipment, plant and expenses associated with the volunteers program. 'Other' costs are wages/salary for an assistant, upgrading of the accommodation for volunteers and other infrastructure costs.

4.3.4 Genetic assessment

In order to properly manage translocations, information on the genetic variability within the original Mt Gardner population and populations derived from it, should be known. The Lakes population was derived from the natural movement of birds from Mt Gardner, while the Manypeaks population was established by translocation. Genetic information on these three populations would enable assessment of the background variation and any changes in the derived populations.

Examination of hypervariable DNA (eg Jeffreys et al. 1985) will allow determination of genetic variation within and between populations and has been used in studies of birds. Small quantities of blood (100 microlitres) have been taken from birds as small as fairy-wrens (about 10 g) without any evident harm to them (I. Rowley2 and M. Brooker2 personal communication), and no problems are foreseen with scrub-birds. It may also be possible to utilise the new and rapidly evolving techniques based on extracting DNA from feathers. Feathers have been retained from many of the birds translocated in the last ten years. Birds from the Mt Gardner subpopulation can be sampled during routine captures for translocations. Birds from Manypeaks and the Lakes areas will need to be captured as a special operation, programmed for 1996.

All translocated birds will be sampled for 1-2 feathers and, if it can be done safely, for blood so that genetic variation and any founder effects can be measured. DNA analyses would be carried out from stored samples once a minimum of 20 samples is available. Because techniques in this area are evolving rapidly, precise techniques to be used will be decided on when sufficient samples are to hand.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM 
ESP 

500

500

500  10500  500  500  500  500  500  500 
Total Cost 

500

500  500  10500  500  500  500  500  500  500 

4.4 Monitoring Noisy Scrub-bird numbers

Numbers of singing males will be counted and their positions plotted on maps every year in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. A total count of singing males will be performed every alternate year in the Albany Management Zone and every alternate year in all other populations (Table 4). This will provide data on trends in populations established by translocation and in subpopulations that have been used as sources for translocations. Any significant unexplained decrease in numbers in any area will be highlighted in the Annual Report and the Recovery Team will then decide on appropriate action.

4.4.1 Post release monitoring

Information on the movements and interactions of released scrub-birds may be obtained using radio-telemetry. The presence of singing males in a release area will be monitored shortly after the initial transfer of scrub-birds and at the beginning of the following breeding season. Monitoring at the latter time is particularly important since it will determine the persistence of males in the area and hence its suitability for the release of females. Each release area must be monitored for several years after releases to determine whether scrub-birds remain in the area and, later, whether breeding is occurring.

Table 4. Tentative monitoring schedule, 1993 to 2002

Population          Monitoring  Year         
Concentration  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
East of Albany                     
1. Mt Gardner 
2. Lakes Area 
3. Mt Manypeaks 
4. Mt Taylor 
5. Angrove - Normans 
6. Bald Is 
7. Mermaid 
West of Albany                     
8. Quarram 
9. Nuyts 

10. New site a

   
11. New site b     
12. New site c         
14. New site e             
+ monitoring                     
? monitoring if warranted                     

4.4.2 Parent population monitoring

For the period of this plan, it is envisaged that all scrub-birds for translocation will be captured from the Mt Gardner area. Annual singing male censuses of this area will monitor the effects of regular removal of breeding birds and reveal any declines, resulting from excessive removal or other causes, which might preclude further removals or lead to a modification of plans. Monitoring females is difficult, but is desirable in areas where females are removed for translocation. This will be carried out when searching for nesting females for capture in successive years.

Responsibility: CALM Albany District.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  7400  11300  11500  14000  16000  15700  16000  14000  16000  11300 
ESP  3900  6000  5200  7400  6600  7400  6600  7400  6600  6000 
Total Cost  11300  17300  16700  21400  22600  23100  22600  21400  22600  17300 

4.5 Education, publicity and sponsorship

In 1992, a draft of this Recovery Plan was submitted to the Australian Nature Conservation Agency for funding under the National Endangered Species Program. Funding was approved and the proportion of the cost of implementing actions being funded by ANCA is shown in the Plan as 'ESP'.

4.5.1 Education and publicity

The Recovery Plan described here is expensive in terms of both staff and finance and the support of the public is essential if the Noisy Scrub-bird is to be conserved.

The Department of Conservation and Land Management, in cooperation with other relevant organisations, will coordinate a public education program on the Noisy Scrub-bird and on the measures being undertaken to prevent its extinction.

Responsibility: CALM Corporate Relations Division, Noisy Scrub-bird Recovery Team

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000 
Total Cost  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000  1000 

4.5.2 Grants and sponsorships

Although this Recovery Plan is fully funded through the CALM budget and via a contract from ANCA to CALM under the National Endangered Species Program, extra money will need to be raised for special projects, such as helicopter charter to transport birds to translocation sites that are not easily assessable by vehicle.

The Recovery Team will endeavour to raise money from sponsorships as required.

Responsibility: Noisy Scrub-bird Recovery Team, in conjunction with CALM's Sponsorship Coordinator.

Cost:  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000  2001  2002 
CALM  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000 
Total Cost  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000  2000