Theme 1.00

Taking the threat out of threatened species

Identifying and effectively controlling the key threats being faced by species close to extinction is crucial to their conservation. General principles will be developed and tested to reduce the impacts of threats based on research at carefully chosen sites around Australia.

This theme will focus on:

  • Developing evidence-based management tools and protocols to reduce impacts of introduced predators on threatened mammals 
  • Conserving critical and threatened habitats
  • Managing fire regimes with thresholds to save threatened flora and fauna.

Related Projects

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.

Responses of threatened species to cats and fire management in Kakadu and northern savannas

Project: 1.1.1
The project is compiling and analysing a large dataset (from Kakadu and comparable other sites in the Top End) on the occurrence of cats, native mammals and fire to evaluate landscape-scale relationships. It will also contribute to the analysis and documentation of responses of native reptiles and mammals to cat-exclusion at established fenced sites in Kakadu National Park.

Feral cat distribution, abundance, management and impacts on threatened species: collation and analysis of data

Project: 1.1.2
This project will improve our understanding of feral cat impacts and how to mitigate those impacts. At national scale, it will collate and analyse large and diverse sets of data to estimate cat distribution and abundance, and measure predation rates by cats on birds, reptiles and mammals, and to identify the ecological traits that make some species more susceptible to cat predation than others.

Feral cat control for threatened species in Queensland

Project: 1.1.3
This project aims to determine the effectiveness of feral cat control options, and their benefits to threatened mammals such as the bridled nailtail wallaby in Queensland. It will recommend long-term management strategies for feral cats in national parks. Biosecurity Queensland is collaborating with Qld DES to assess bait effectiveness, following advice from WA Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (Eradicat bait manufacturer and label holder).

The role of feral predators in disrupting small vertebrate communities in arid South Australia

Project: 1.1.4
This project is investigating why native species persist in some refuge areas of South Australia but not others, and the role of habitat condition and especially feral predators in restricting their populations. The kowari and fawn hopping mouse are threatened and other species such as the plains mouse and crest-tailed mulgara are restricted in range.

Feral predators in south-east Australia: Towards a ‘beyond the fence’ strategy

Project: 1.1.5
Reintroducing threatened mammals into the broader landscape outside fenced reserves requires effective control of feral predators and knowledge of predator density. Most robust methods of density estimation require the identification of individual animals, possible for cats but not foxes. This project is developing new statistical methods to generate robust estimates based on camera trap data.

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.

Livestock guardian dogs to protect threatened species and restore habitat

Project: 1.1.8
Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) are conventionally used to protect livestock such as sheep from wild predators, such as foxes. This project will test the value of these effects of LGDs on predators and herbivores to: 1) protect vulnerable native species from invasive predators; and 2) increase the success of ecological restoration by preventing the over-browsing of regenerating plant communities.

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.

Mitigating cat impacts on the brush-tailed rabbit-rat

Project: 1.1.12
The brush-tailed rabbit-rat of northern Australia’s tropical savannas has declined dramatically. Cat predation is considered a major threat, but cat impacts are influenced by vegetation, which in turn is strongly influenced by fire.

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.

Can culling noisy miners benefit threatened woodland birds?

In recent decades across eastern Australia, noisy miner populations have expanded in fragmented agricultural landscapes. A communal, non-migratory, bird of considerable size (approximately 70g), they have aggressively outcompeted many other smaller species of native woodland birds. So concerning is this decline that in 2014, aggressive exclusion of woodland birds from potential habitat by noisy miners was listed as a Key Threatening Process under the EPBC Act.

Survival and persistence of woodland birds in restoration plantings

Restoration plantings in fragmented agricultural landscapes provide habitat for declining woodland bird communities, but can they support resident, breeding populations of woodland birds? This research project focuses on the breeding success and site fidelity of woodland birds in restoration plantings in the South West Slopes Bioregion of NSW.

How bird communities change in relation to vegetation change

This project will examine how bird communities change at woodland restoration sites in south-eastern Australia. The project will use long-term datasets to compare changes in the assemblage of woodland birds that occupy tree plantings with birds that occupy stands of remnant vegetation.

Testing the effectiveness of nest boxes for threatened species

This project entails establishing purpose-built nest boxes within young tree plantings and remnant box gum grassy woodland vegetation on farms and along roadsides. The aim is to determine the usefulness of artificial hollows as an effective offsetting tool for tree removal in agricultural landscapes (e.g., to offset the loss of paddock trees as a result of cropping intensification and road widening).

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.

Restoring the endangered Yass daisy

Land clearing has resulted in the loss of approximately 85% of the box gum woodland vegetation community and what remains is often highly degraded. The woodlands are important to a number of threatened ground cover species including the Yass daisy. This project addresses the problem of how to best conserve this critically endangered vegetation community.

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. 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 prioritising 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.

Ecosystem Accounts in Box Gum Grassy Woodlands

Project: 1.2.4
Box Gum Grassy Woodlands are a critically endangered ecosystem. This project will develop ecosystem accounts for this threatened ecological community, to demonstrate the benefits of the ecosystem to the economy, productivity of the land and human well-being by attributing values for ecosystem services.

Coordinated recovery planning for threatened woodlands

Project: 1.2.5
This project will develop a framework to aid EPBC Act listing and recovery processes for southern Australian eucalypt woodlands. The aim is that this work will contribute directly to the development of future recovery plans for woodland communities in Australia, by providing a template for developing a group recovery plan for multiple ecological communities.

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.

Fire and native flora

Project: 1.3.1
Altered fire regimes represent a major threats to biodiversity in fire-prone landscapes. This project will improve fire management strategies to prevent the extinction of threatened plant species.

Fire and invasive predators

Project: 1.3.2
Inappropriate fire regimes and predation by red foxes and feral cats have played a major role in the decline and extinction of Australia’s native mammals. This project aims to help understand and manage the interactions between fire, invasive predators and threatened native animals in south-eastern Australia.

Fire, predators and the endangered northern bettong

Project: 1.3.3
The northern bettong is only found in a tiny section of Queensland’s wet tropics, and has declined severely in range in the past decade. It now persists in just two locations, one of which may only hold a very small population.

Contemporary and traditional fire management approaches in the desert

Project: 1.3.4
Landscape-scale fire management in arid areas is challenging because of the vast areas involved. Interest in using techniques like aerial incendiary for fire management in deserts is growing, but it is unclear whether this approach will deliver the same cultural practice, fire and biodiversity outcomes, as traditional, very fine-scale burning carried out from the ground.

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.

Saving threatened frogs with refuges from disease, fish predation and fragmentation

Project: 1.4.1
This project will identify and create safe havens for the Endangered spotted tree frog and threatened bell frog species. Disease caused by chytrid fungus, predation by non-native fish and habitat loss are all contributing to these species’ declines.

The role of toxoplasmosis in mammal declines

Project: 1.4.2
Toxoplasmosis was introduced to Australia by cats, who also continue to spread the disease. It is known that the disease affects Australian mammals, and that many Australian mammals are suffering dramatic declines. It is completely unknown, however, whether toxoplasmosis is contributing to these declines and how it compares to other threats.

Understanding and combatting myrtle rust

Project: 1.4.3
This project will advance our understanding of the plant disease myrtle rust and help to combat its impacts, which affects both threatened and commercially important species. First detected in 2010, it has spread rapidly and caused localised plant extinctions.

Guidelines on how to treat Australian wildlife with sarcoptic mange

Project: 1.4.4
Wildlife disease is an increasingly important threat to many species of conservation concern. The impact of sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) on wombats is a matter of considerable concern to some members of the wider community, as evidenced by multiple submissions to the recent Senate Inquiry on Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis.