Research with impact

The Threatened Species Recovery Hub brings together leading ecological experts to work on the outlook for Australia’s threatened species and ecological communities by:

  • Developing better, more efficient responses to threats
  • Testing novel strategies for rescuing species on the brink
  • Developing strategies to provide an early warning about extinction risk
  • Ensuring the best tools and most up-to-date information to monitor conservation status
  • Involving communities in threatened species conservation and sharing the benefits of healthy ecosystems.

Researchers will work across key themes to inform and support on-ground responses that reduce threats and promote recovery of threatened species; and build a better understanding of their status, threats and management options. The ever-changing status of Australia’s threatened species means a watching brief is required in terms of research priorities. As threats and trends emerge, the Hub will respond to fill urgent needs for evidence and management options.


Theme 1.00 - Taking the threat out of threatened species

Impacts and management options for introduced predators

Project: 1.1
Feral cats and foxes, as well as changed fire regimes and introduced herbivores, have caused many species extinctions and remain a serious threat to Australia’s vertebrate species, especially its mammals.

This research aims to find the best management actions to reduce the impacts of feral predators, and help restore native animal populations including threatened species.

Work will take place at a range of sites across Australia and include case studies of threatened species population recovery.

Response of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart and other threatened species to a cat eradication program

Project: 1.1.10
Controlling feral cats on biodiversity-rich islands is a high priority for the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity. This project will document the benefits of the Kangaroo Island (KI) cat eradication program on the KI dunnart and other threatened species. It will also fill knowledge gaps about the ecology and improve monitoring techniques for the KI dunnart.

Conservation of the Night Parrot

Project: 1.1.11
The Night Parrot was ‘missing’ for nearly a century. Since its rediscovery in western Queensland in 2013, we are building knowledge of its ecology, the threats it faces, its status, and how to manage the landscape for its conservation. This project will build on previous research to enable land managers to make better decisions on how to conserve the parrot.

Integrated management of feral herbivores and feral predators

Project: 1.1.6
This research will uncover how feral cats respond when an abundant source of rabbits is removed from the landscape. Do they prey switch and increase their impact on native animals? Do many die of hunger? We will conduct a landscape-scale experiment at the Arid Recovery reserve in South Australia to find out.

Some responses of the threatened Northern Quoll to a large-scale cat baiting program in the Pilbara

Project: 1.1.7
This project will build on an existing large-scale feral cat baiting program in the Pilbara being undertaken by WA DBCA in partnership with Rio Tinto in order to advance our understanding of how the Northern Quoll and other native species respond to feral predator control, and how to optimise future cat baiting programs more generally.

Conserving critical and threatened habitats

Project: 1.2
This project will study how best to conserve threatened ecological communities and critical habitats for threatened and endangered species. Initial focus is on the Box Gum Grassy woodlands and endangered Buloke Woodlands of the Riverina and Murray-Darling Depression Bioregions as well as Alpine Bogs and Fens. Research will include a series of field trials, experiments and prioritisation of management of critical habitats and threatened ecological communities from across Australia.

Enhancing critical habitat for the Pink-tailed Worm-lizard in agricultural landscapes

Box Gum Grassy Woodland and derived native grassland, is an endangered ecological vegetation community which often occurs in agricultural landscapes. Within this community rocky outcrops provide critical habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna, such as the vulnerable Pink-tailed Worm-lizard.

Adaptive management of endangered Buloke woodlands

Project: 1.2.2
Buloke Woodlands were once widespread in Mallee regions of south eastern Australia but have been extensively cleared and degraded by grazing and cropping. Remaining patches within National Parks are degraded and failing to regenerate. Grazing by kangaroos, rabbits and goats is consider the major barrier to regeneration but the current grazer control regime has failed to yield the desired result. The project team is working with Parks Victoria to investigate why key species are not regenerating and to test management techniques that could improve the recovery of this endangered ecological community.

Supporting alpine peatland recovery by prioritizing action on threats

Project: 1.2.3
Alpine peatlands are an endangered ecological community in Australia and are critical habitat for a large number of threatened species. They are subject to a wide variety of interacting threats that vary greatly across the landscape. Managing and recovering alpine peatlands is hampered by a lack of knowledge about how different alpine peatlands respond to different management interventions.

Managing fire regimes to save threatened flora and fauna

Project: 1.3
This project will improve fire management strategies and conservation outcomes to save threatened flora and fauna from extinction.

On-ground trials and experiments, new data, modelled scenarios and improved management practices will assist fire management authorities to implement sustainable fire regimes and avoid further declines in threatened species.

Disease and faunal declines

Project: 1.4
​Researchers are working with on-ground management authorities to help control three wildlife diseases that threaten our fauna: chytrid fungus, toxoplasmosis and myrtle rust, and to prevent the extinction of affected species.
Theme 2.00 - Red Hot Red List: no surprises, no regrets

Identifying emergency actions for fauna at acute risk of extinction

Project: 2.1
This project will identify animal species with the highest risk of extinction in the shortest time. It will aim to avert these extinctions by providing conservation agencies with robust evidence to prioritise investment and support decision making.

Tackling threats to endangered hollow-nesting birds

Project: 2.2
Introduced sugar gliders, habitat loss and native parasites are threatening hollow-nesting birds in Tasmania. This project will focus on managing these threats to ensure the persistence of swift parrots, forty-spotted pardalotes and orange-bellied parrots into the future.

Enhancing threatened species outcomes for Christmas Island

Project: 2.3
A collaboration with Parks Australia, this project will provide planning and management for threatened species on Christmas Island. This includes conservation outcomes for the rapidly declining Christmas Island flying-fox, and for two threatened reptile species living in captivity.

Options beyond captivity for two critically endangered Christmas Island reptiles

Project: 2.3.2
The blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko are endemic to, and were once common on Christmas Island but became extinct in the wild over the last 1-2 decades. This project is contributing to Parks Australia’s management, by evaluating options for these two species outside captivity.

Optimising the benefits of feral cat control on Christmas Island

Project: 2.3.3
Cats are one of a suite of introduced species that have played a significant role in the extinctions and declines of Christmas Island fauna; these introduced species continue to exert pressure on many native species. In response, the Australian Government is undertaking actions to control the impacts of several introduced species; one of these actions is an island-wide cat eradication program.

Combatting an emerging disease threatening endangered Christmas Island reptiles

Project: 2.3.5
The blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko are critically endangered, currently extinct in the wild, and persist only within a captive breeding program. Recently, a new bacterial disease which causes facial deformity and death has emerged in the two species. This project will build on preliminary research to develop a critical understanding of the disease, how it interacts with the reptiles and their environments, and if and how it can be managed.

National Action Plan for Australia’s most imperilled plants

Project: 2.4
This project will create a Red Hot List of Australia’s 100 most threatened plant species and a National Action Plan to bring together key information on these species to create a prioritised plan for action. The project will also undertake field based research to fill critical knowledge gaps about poorly known but potentially imperilled species.
Theme 3.00 - Monitoring and management

Developing a threatened species index

Project: 3.1
This project will develop and evaluate a set of indices that can provide reliable and robust measures of population trends across Australia’s threatened species. This will support more coherent and transparent reporting of changes in biodiversity across national, state and regional levels.

Improving threatened species monitoring

Project: 3.2
This project will aim to improve the design and implementation of cost-effective monitoring for threatened species. An extensive review of past and current approaches to threatened species monitoring will inform future monitoring programs. Case studies will be developed around monitoring approaches for a wide range of threatened species and new technologies (such as drones) will be explored.

Bioacoustic monitoring of breeding in glossy and red-tailed black-cockatoos

Project: 3.2.3
Breeding success is a key limiting factor in population recovery for the threatened glossy black-cockatoo and south-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoo. Monitoring is important to guide conservation actions, however these species are difficult to monitor using traditional methods. This project will develop novel bioacoustic methods to monitor breeding in these species.

Practical adaptive management to improve threatened species conservation programs

Project: 3.3
What makes effective adaptive management? And what are the key unifying attributes of successful and unsuccessful adaptive management? This project will develop case studies to support adaptive management and conservation, with an initial focus on the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum and the Malleefowl. A key part of this work will be to help the Department of Environment deliver on its commitments in the emergency actions component of the Threatened Species Strategy.

Adaptive Management for threatened mammals in the Victorian Central Highlands

Project: 3.3.2
Many species of mammals and birds are dependent on the Mountain Ash forests of Victoria’s Central Highlands, including the Critically Endangered Leadbeater’s Possum and Vulnerable Greater Glider. This project will use analysis of existing long-term monitoring data and new field-based experimental research and radio-tracking to strengthen the scientific evidence base of strategies to secure the longterm conservation of these and other species dependent on these forests.
Theme 4.00 - Reintroductions and refugia

Translocation, reintroduction and conservation fencing for threatened fauna

Project: 4.1
Whether moving species into fenced areas, intensively managed habitats or outside its previous habitat - translocating threatened species presents a number of challenges.

This project will research the most feasible and cost-effective translocation strategies to boost the size and long-term viability of wild populations. This will include improved planning for, and implementation of, translocations of mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs.

Learning from mammal translocations

Project: 4.1.3
Australian Wildlife Conservancy is undertaking a major project to re-establish populations of 10 regionally-extinct mammals, including nine threatened species, at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Australia. The reintroductions will integrate monitoring and research activities in order to improve the conduct of future reintroductions in Australia.

Can assisted gene flow increase the resilience of terrestrial-breeding frogs to a drying climate?

Project: 4.1.6
Assisted gene flow is an emerging method to aid species to adapt to new conditions, such as those created by climate change. It involves the movement of individuals (or their genes) from one population to another. This project will investigate whether assisted gene flow could enhance the resilience of two species of non-threatened amphibians from the south-west of Australia to increasingly dry conditions.

Improving conservation outcomes for critically endangered white-bellied frogs

Project: 4.1.8
White-bellied frogs are a critically endangered species that are endemic to the Margaret River region of Western Australia. The species has undergone continued population declines, despite careful management. This project will target knowledge gaps around factors contributing to population declines, as well as better resolve the specific habitat and hydrological requirements of this species.

Saving species on Australian islands

Project: 4.2
This project will help shape on-ground actions on Australian islands – which are havens for threatened species. It will develop information to more effectively protect Australia’s island biodiversity and create safe refuges for species at risk.

Protecting threatened quolls and other biodiversity on Kimberley islands from cane toads

Project: 4.2.5
This research will use existing data to predict future invasion by cane toads of Australian islands, particularly the Kimberley islands. This information is important for prioritizing surveillance action on these islands in order to conserve toad-sensitive species such as the endangered Northern Quoll.

Improving threatened plant reintroduction success

Project: 4.3
Reintroducing threatened plant species can be a risky and expensive undertaking, especially in cases where current knowledge is inadequate. Project 4.3 will fill these knowledge gaps to improve the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of reintroducing threatened plant species.
It will provide practical guidance on how, where and when reintroductions should be implemented to cost effectively minimise the extinction of threatened plants.

Identifying and managing refuges from threats

Project: 4.4
Some locations in Australia are particularly valuable for threatened species because they offer natural protection from introduced predators, diseases, fire, drought, and the effects of climate change. Project 4.4 will locate and identify the features that form natural refugia and the places where conservation efforts will be most effective.
Theme 5.00 - Enhancing threatened species policy

Better offsets for threatened species

Project: 5.1
This project will examine alternative strategies for achieving offset benefits for threatened species. By moving beyond traditional ‘land-based’ offsets strategies can be more cost-effective. Alternative approaches may include perpetual funds to support ongoing management of pest species, and educational signage aiming to reduce damage to beach-nesting species.

Strategic Planning for the Far Eastern Curlew

Project: 5.1.1
The Far Eastern Curlew has experienced one of the most acute declines of any Australian shorebird species. Currently little is known about their exact feeding and roosting habitat requirements. While coastal development can negatively impact populations, they are known to use some artificial habitat for roosting. This project will provide the knowledge needed to develop strategic guidelines for Far Eastern Curlew conservation.

Improving assessments and policy for poorly-known threatened species

Project: 5.2
Hundreds of thousands of Australian species are so poorly known that their risk of extinction cannot be determined. Currently, such species are offered no explicit conservation protection, even though some of these species are highly likely to be in danger of extinction.
Theme 6.00 - Using social and economic opportunities for threatened species recovery

Quantifying benefits of threatened-species management in rural and regional economies: Phase 2

Project: 6.1
This project will investigate approaches that quantify benefits of conservation management to the broader society and to local regions. Studies converting environmental benefits from threatened species management into dollar values will be reviewed, reflecting the importance that the community places on them relative to other benefits.

Indigenous action in threatened species research and management

Project: 6.2
This project aims to support on-country enterprise and partnership opportunities for Indigenous people to participate in protecting and recovering Australia's threatened species and their habitats.

Improving communication and community buy-in to threatened species conservation

Project: 6.3
Local communities play an important role in threatened species recovery and this project will explore the best ways to involve them, as well as opportunities for changing attitudes and behaviour.

Learning from success and failure in threatened species conservation

Project: 6.4
The reasons for success and failure in the management of threatened species and communities will be examined. The project will explore the regulatory and policy instruments and governance approaches that have influenced on-ground recovery of threatened species. Research will help prevent the decline of species at risk of extinction.

Citizen science for threatened species conservation and building community support

Project: 6.5
Citizen science is surging in Australia, and represents a huge opportunity to engage the public with threatened species, to capture valuable data and to deliver crowd-sourced on-ground conservation action. This project will deliver protocols to guide the application of citizen science to threatened species monitoring and management.