Harry Butler Institute
 

Securing the future of black cockatoos

Western Australia is home to three species of black cockatoos; the Carnaby’s cockatoo, Baudin’s cockatoo and the forest red-tailed black cockatoo. Populations of all three are in decline.

Land clearing for agricultural, urban and industrial development is reducing critical habitats for black cockatoos. Meanwhile, climate change, competition with other species and human impacts, such as vehicle strikes, illegal shooting and poaching, are also contributing to their decline.

Professor Kris Warren is leading research to better understand the heath, demographics and ecology of black cockatoos to secure the future of these beloved Australian birds.

 

Areas of research

Black Cockatoos, Conservation

Technology utilised

GPS, Satellite Tags

Lead researchers

Professor Kris Warren, Dr Jill Shephard

 

What was the need for this project?

Despite major efforts to date, all three species of black cockatoo are continuing to decline. The main impediment to facilitating population recovery in these species is a lack of information about flock movement patterns and key habitat use.

Previous work has not offered an effective way to track these species at a landscape scale. However, the telemetry method in this study offers a proven solution and a prime opportunity to address these knowledge gaps.

As Perth continues its rapid and extensive urban development, there is a significant need and opportunity to model how development and conservation of this important species can be managed together.

 

How the project was completed

Together with Dr Jill Shephard, Dr Warren is undertaking research that uses GPS and ARGOS PTT tags to track wild black cockatoos throughout the Perth metropolitan area and South West region.

Outcomes from this research will benefit State and Federal conservation agencies considerably by directing their recovery efforts and informing their legislative responsibilities relating to the protection and management of threatened black cockatoo species and their habitat.

The health, demographics and ecology research is ongoing in collaboration with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Perth Zoo, Birdlife Australia, Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, and a wide range of industry partners.

 

Results and achievements for this project

To date this project has delivered major new black cockatoo flock movement and habitat use information that has been used by proponents in guiding development planning on the Swan Coastal Plain and to assist State and Federal agencies in assessing development applications.

These data are used directly to address priority actions in the Carnaby’s Cockatoo Recovery Plan and the Forest Black Cockatoo Recovery Plan. Since 2015, the Murdoch University research team has successfully deployed 84 tags and generated over 140,000 GPS location fixes for 33,000 km of tracked movement.

While the primary focus of the project is on the conservation of black cockatoos in modified landscapes, future work will use predictive modelling of threatening processes to provide greater understanding of key threats and how to mitigate them.

 

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