Australian birds: Current status and future prospects

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    As in much of the world, Australia’s birds have suffered greatly from habitat loss, feral predators and direct exploitation. Less universal have been the declines caused by post-colonial changes in fire regime after 40000 years of Indigenous fire management. Climate change and a disengagement by Australians from nature loom as threats for the future. However, Australia is a country of climatic extremes and many birds are well-adapted to stressful conditions. Given adequate investment, all the major classes of threat have potential solutions, with particular success in recent decades in the removal of feral predators from islands and in reducing the by-catch from fishing. The biggest threat of all is possibly a failure to invest in conservation as modern lifestyles take people further and further away from the natural environment. Introduction Australia’s birds are, like those in so much of the world, travelling poorly. Of the 1239 species and subspecies regularly occurring in Australia, 17% are Threatened or Near Threatened on the basis of the IUCN Red List Criteria (Garnett et al. 2011). This number has been increasing steadily (Szabo et al. 2012a) and, while originally it was taxa of Australia’s oceanic islands that were most likely to be threatened, taxa from the mainland are now starting to slip away (Szabo et al. 2012b). Sadly some of those most threatened are the most distinctive; birds at the end of long slender branches of the evolutionary tree whose closest relatives are long gone. Other species, however, are thriving under the conditions that have arisen over the past few centuries of intense development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAustral Ark
    Subtitle of host publicationThe State of Wildlife in Australia and New Zealand
    EditorsAdam Stow, Norman Maclean, Gregory I. Holwell
    Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781139519960
    ISBN (Print)9781107033542
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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