The Conversation: Australia’s threatened birds declined by nearly 60% on average over 30 years, according to new research that reveals the true impact on native wildlife of habitat loss, introduced pests, and other human-caused pressures.
Alarmingly, migratory shorebirds have declined by 72%. Many of these species inhabit our mudflats and coasts on their migration from Siberia, Alaska or China each year. These concerning figures are revealed in our world-first Threatened Bird Index. The index, now updated with its second year of data, combines over 400,000 surveys at more than 17,000 locations.
It’s hoped the results will shed light on where conservation efforts are having success, and where more work must be done.The index found a 59% fall in Australia’s threatened and near threatened bird populations between 1985 and 2016. Migratory shorebirds in South Australia and New South Wales have been worst hit, losing 82% and 88% of their populations.
respectively. In contrast, shorebirds in the Northern Territory have increased by 147% since 1985, potentially due to the safe roosting habitat at Darwin Harbour where human access to the site is restricted.
Habitat loss and pest species (particularly feral cats) are the most common reasons for these dramatic population declines.
Many of Australia’s threatened species are monitored by various organisations across the country. In the past there has never been a way to combine and analyse all of this evidence in one place.