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The conservation and ecology of rainforest pigeons in northeastern New South Wales

Date, E.M., Recher, H.F., Ford, H.A. and Stewart, D.A. (1995) The conservation and ecology of rainforest pigeons in northeastern New South Wales. Pacific Conservation Biology, 2 (3). pp. 299-308.

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A survey of conservation reserves, rainforest remnants and agricultural districts in northeastern New South Wales was conducted to determine the abundance, movements and habitat requirements of rainforest pigeons, to evaluate the extent and use of suitable habitat in conservation reserves, and to provide guidelines for the conservation and management of rainforest pigeons. Eight species of rainforest pigeon occur in northeastern New South Wales. Commencing with the clearing of rainforest in the 1860s for agriculture, rainforest pigeons declined in abundance throughout New South Wales and by the 1970s five species were thought to be threatened in the state. Since then, rainforest pigeons have apparently increased in abundance and distribution, but the Wompoo, Rose-crowned and Superb Pigeons continue to be listed by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service as vulnerable and rare. However, populations of all species of rainforest pigeons in New South Wales are relatively small and vulnerable to further loss of habitat. Most rainforest pigeons show a preference for subtropical rainforest habitat, but moist eucalypt forests, gardens and weedy exotic vegetation along roads and on abandoned farmland are also frequented to varying degrees by different species. To investigate recent trends in pigeon abundance we used data collected for up to 12 years from eight sites and during 1988, 1989 and 1990 from 17 rainforest remnants in northeastern New South Wales. The data suggest that rainforest pigeons now occur more frequently in lowland agricultural areas than in the recent past and tend to confirm an increase in abundance since the 1970s. Nesting and foraging habitats for rainforest pigeons are extensive in the conservation reserve system of northeastern New South Wales, but these habitats, which are largely at high elevations, lack winter food resources. Instead, pigeons congregate in remnant rainforest and exotic berry-bearing trees and shrubs in agricultural areas at lower elevations and near the coast. They rely on these habitats for food during winter and it is the restricted extent of this habitat that probably limits their abundance, not the area or quality of habitat at higher elevations. The conservation and management of rainforest pigeons requires the protection of low elevation and coastal rainforest remnants. As development of northeastern New South Wales proceeds, to avoid a decline in the abundances of rainforest pigeons it will be necessary to protect sclerophyll forest with native or exotic fruit bearing trees and shrubs and to extend the area of suitable habitat by the regeneration of rainforest and by the planting of native species used by pigeons as a food source. This will become increasingly important as the control and removal of exotic plants, such as Lantana Lantana camara and Camphor Laurel Cinnamonum camphora, on which some pigeons depend as a winter food source, becomes more successful.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Surrey Beatty & Sons
Copyright: © Surrey Beatty & Sons
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