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Managing resources for an endangered species, Carnaby’s cockatoo, in a fire-prone landscape

Valentine, L., Wilson, B., Stock, W., Fleming, P. and Hobbs, R. (2015) Managing resources for an endangered species, Carnaby’s cockatoo, in a fire-prone landscape. In: Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference 2015, 29 November - 3 December, Adelaide, South Australia.


Landscape management activities, such as prescribed burning, manipulate habitat and alter the abundance and distribution of resources for species. Conservation management utilizing fire is particularly complex in fragmented peri-urban/rural habitat, where there are multiple, often-conflicting objectives. Consequently, a critical element for successful threatened species recovery is to understand how fire management affects resource availability. We examined how fire can influence food resources for the endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) of south-western Western Australia, a fragmented fire-prone landscape. Our study area supports the largest population of Carnaby’s cockatoo, a large, mobile parrot that principally feeds upon seeds. Tree density and seed productivity of dominant plant species, Banksia attenuata and B. menziesii, was compared across 44 sites of varying post-fire aged habitat. The seed productivity of both plants was strongly influenced by fire. Banksia attenuata produced more seed at sites aged 10–30 years since fire, while seed productivity for B. menziesii was highest in old sites (> 35 years since fire). Using the bird’s energetic requirements and seed energy content, we predicted higher numbers of Carnaby’s cockatoo could be supported in habitat aged between 14–30 years since fire, peaking in habitat aged 20–25 years since fire. However, >60% of the study area was burnt within the last 7 years. While human and asset protection is a priority for prescribed burning, management of landscapes to restore resources for threatened species is also important and complex trade-offs will have to be considered.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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