Unit 3: Orange Bellied Parrot


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Tracey Gray, fropm Port Fairy Consolidated School, delivered this presentation to VCE Environmental Science stuednts in May, 2008 as part of the Unit 3: Biodiversity course.

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  • Orange-bellied Parrot are a critically endangered species that live in southern Australia. The birds migrate annually from Southern Tasmania to mainland Victoria and South Australia. With only 200 individuals left in the wild these species are on the edge of extinction.
  • Unit 3: Orange Bellied Parrot

    1. 1. Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster A critically endangered species
    2. 2. Orange-bellied Parrots <ul><li>Key identification features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Green feathers (on back) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Grass green (males) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Olive green (females & juveniles) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Orange belly feathers (male only) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blue wing tips. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>45-50g in weight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blue band between eyes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20 cm long (head to tail) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photograph: Dave Watts </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Habitat requirements <ul><li>Coastal wetland or salt marsh habitats. </li></ul><ul><li>Winter migration (Vic and SA): Orange-bellied Parrot forage for the seeds of low vegetation in a variety of coastal plant communities (10 km of coast). </li></ul><ul><li>Summer Breeding ground (TAS) Eucalypt fringed wetland areas with native grasses and herb-field species. </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs: Tracey Gray and Peter Penney </li></ul>
    4. 4. Migration Journey <ul><li>Orange-bellied Parrots move from their summer breeding grounds in the southern Tasmania to winter feeding grounds on the Victorian and South Australia coast. </li></ul><ul><li>Journey distance 300km across the Bass Straight. </li></ul><ul><li>Orange-bellied Parrot conserve energy by island hopping across Bass Straight. </li></ul><ul><li>Feeding on coastal plants on the primary dune. </li></ul><ul><li>Extract from DSE website Victoria. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Breeding and Longevity <ul><li>Sexually mature at 1 year of age. </li></ul><ul><li>Forming monogamous relationships (winter breeding). </li></ul><ul><li>Life span- 7 years (wild populations) & 13 years (in captivity). </li></ul><ul><li>Average life span is less than 4 years old. </li></ul><ul><li>Nests made in eucalypt hollows birds using same hollows each year. </li></ul><ul><li>One white egg is laid every second day during late Nov- December. </li></ul><ul><li>Clutch size 1-6 eggs laid. </li></ul><ul><li>Eggs incubated for 21 days by the female. </li></ul><ul><li>Eggs hatch every 2 days in late Dec-Jan. </li></ul><ul><li>Brooding continues for up to 2 weeks. </li></ul><ul><li>Fledging occurs by mid- Feb and juveniles </li></ul><ul><li>form small flocks ready for the winter migration </li></ul><ul><li>in late March. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Distribution <ul><li>1800 the species was reported as common or locally abundant. </li></ul><ul><li>Species has been in decline since 1920 and is no longer recorded in NSW. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Food sources <ul><li>Orange-bellied Parrots feed on a variety of coastal plants including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beaded Glasswort. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Native Grasses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sedges. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With their hard beaks Orange-bellied Parrots feed on the nuts, fruits and seeds of many different coastal plants. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Energy contained in nut and seed provides a greater energy source building up winter food reserves. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photograph: Tracey Gray </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Top: Beaded Glasswort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bottom: Various coastal species. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Breeding ground habitat: Tasmania <ul><li>Eucalypt species of hollow bearing age (over 80 years) are the preferred site for nesting. </li></ul><ul><li>Access to coastal wetland vegetation communities. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Coastal refuge: Victoria <ul><li>Woolley Tea Tree species provide roosting sites for the Orange-bellied Parrot in coastal wetlands. </li></ul><ul><li>Once a dominant vegetation community before European settlement. </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs: Tracey Gray (Woolley Tea Tree flowers and nuts) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Threats to the Orange-bellied Parrot <ul><li>Loss of critical winter habitat and food supply due to: </li></ul><ul><li>Habitat fragmentation of wintering habitat in the last 100 years. </li></ul><ul><li>Alteration of feeding grounds (wetlands and salt marsh communities) drainage of wetland systems for agriculture practices. </li></ul>
    11. 11. List of threatening process for Orange-bellied Parrot Population size Stochastic factors and catastrophic events. <ul><li>Disease, </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of genetic variation, </li></ul><ul><li>Storms during migration, </li></ul><ul><li>Destruction of nest sites by fire. </li></ul>Degradation and loss of habitat Loss of specific habitat type <ul><li>Drainage of wetlands, </li></ul><ul><li>Alteration and destruction of salt marsh for industrial and urban development, </li></ul><ul><li>Grazing of native vegetation, </li></ul><ul><li>Vegetation clearance for agriculture and recreation. </li></ul>Invasive weeds Alteration of species composition at key sites. <ul><li>Marram grass </li></ul><ul><li>Sea spurge </li></ul><ul><li>Box thorn </li></ul>Introduced predatory species Predation on individuals. <ul><li>Foxes </li></ul><ul><li>Feral cats </li></ul>Competitor exclusion Increased competition for key ecological requirements. <ul><li>Rabbits reducing food supply </li></ul><ul><li>Starlings aggressively prevented Orange-bellied Parrot from entering nest hollows. </li></ul><ul><li>Honey bee’s abandonment of clutch and death of brood. </li></ul><ul><li>Sugar gliders aggressively exclude Orange-bellied Parrot from next sites. </li></ul>Illuminated structures Interference in migratory path <ul><li>Squid fishery </li></ul><ul><li>Light houses </li></ul>Trapping Removal of individuals from the wild <ul><li>Prior to 1960’s </li></ul>
    12. 12. Limiting factors <ul><li>Shortage of mid winter food supply </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of secure roosting sites </li></ul><ul><li>Small gene pool limiting genetic diversity, reducing fitness of population. </li></ul><ul><li>High mortality in winter periods. </li></ul><ul><li>Seasonal vegetation changes due to global warming. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Recovery objectives <ul><li>Improve the conservation status of the species (numbers above 250 adults) so the population no longer meets the IUCN critically endangered classification. </li></ul><ul><li>Increase the carrying capacity of critical winter habitat to ensure that the species persists in its current range. </li></ul><ul><li>Probability of total extinction by 2011 is reduced by 50%. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Biodiversity Benefits <ul><li>The protection of Orange-bellied Parrot assists with the conservation and protection of significant areas of coastal ecosystems that are highly modified and require sensitive management. </li></ul><ul><li>Orange-bellied Parrots require a variety of habitat types as an indicator species can provided information about the complexity of coastal ecosystems . </li></ul><ul><li>Assistance to vaccine for a virus found in wild populations of parrots. </li></ul><ul><li>Right as a species to exist . </li></ul>
    15. 15. Conservation efforts <ul><li>Captive breeding programs </li></ul><ul><li>Annual bird counts </li></ul><ul><li>Community education programs. </li></ul><ul><li>Habitat enhancement programs (to increase the carrying capacity of habitat areas): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fencing of wetlands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Planting of native species. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management of breeding habitat including mosaic burning of vegetation to maintain food diversity and supply. </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. A coordinated approach to management. <ul><li>Population counts & community monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Population Viability Models </li></ul><ul><li>Genetic depressions :2 key populations heterozyogosity and fitness. </li></ul><ul><li>Supplementary Feeding stations </li></ul><ul><li>Captive breeding program (survival rates) </li></ul><ul><li>Bird banding of juveniles </li></ul><ul><li>Radio tracking of individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial Nest box structures </li></ul>
    17. 17. Reproductive success <ul><li>1991/92 nest boxes at Melaleuca to encourage breeding at accessible sites. </li></ul><ul><li>1992-2006- 192 breeding attempts occurred. </li></ul><ul><li>1993/4- 874 eggs laid 695 hatched at 80% hatching success. 606 nestlings fledged at a success rate of 87%. </li></ul><ul><li>Overall breeding success (proportion of eggs laid resulting in fledgling) at 69% equivalent to 3.3 fledgling per nest with eggs (Holdsworth 2006). </li></ul>
    18. 18. Population Viability Assessments (PVA) <ul><li>PVA use computer models to synthesis information about population dynamics of a species. </li></ul><ul><li>PVA predicts risk of extinction. </li></ul><ul><li>Biological information; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reproductive rates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Population estimates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Survival. </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. PVA for the OBP in 1993 <ul><li>1993 (Mc Carthy 1995) high juvenile mortality limitation to population increase. </li></ul><ul><li>Highlighted importance of captive-breeding program. </li></ul><ul><li>Captive breeding program release 40%-60% of captive bred birds annually. </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial nests important in reducing extinction. </li></ul><ul><li>Survivorship in winter the critical limiting factor. </li></ul>
    20. 20. PVA for Orange-bellied Parrot in 1998 <ul><li>Key findings: </li></ul><ul><li>Survivorship in winter more limiting than reproduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative v’s Quantative features of habitat: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vegetation composition is more important than area/size of vegetation coverage. ( Drechsler etal 1998 ) </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Consolidation of data Winter survey’s 2007 <ul><li>97 individual surveys conducted in 2007 wintering period. </li></ul><ul><li>Aire River to Glenelg River (VIC/SA border) </li></ul><ul><li>Orange-bellied Parrot observed at 7 sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Consolidation of data. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Interpreting Data: <ul><li>Take time to interpret the information. </li></ul><ul><li>Basic information: Axis (X and Y) </li></ul><ul><li>What stories can the data tell? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How many birds? Where are they found? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How could you incorporate this information into your report? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a simple table? Use the image? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refer to the information to support your statements. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reference! </li></ul>