Regional variation in habitat matrix determines movement metrics in Baudin’s cockatoos in southwest Western Australia.

Sam Rycken, Jill M Shepherd, Lian Yeap, Rebecca Vaughan-Higgins, Manda Page, Rick Dawson, Karen Smith, Peter Mawson, Kristin Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Context: The Baudin’s cockatoo is one of three black cockatoo species endemic to Western Australia and is listed as Endangered by state and federal governments. Although there is a Recovery Plan in place for this species, conservation efforts are hindered by gaps in knowledge regarding the species movement ecology.

Aims: To identify key foraging and roosting habitat for Baudin’s cockatoos and to determine differences in flock movements, including the spatial extent of movement, in Urban, Peri-urban and Forest regions using telemetry data.

Methods: Wild Baudin’s cockatoos that had been injured and undergone rehabilitation were equipped with satellite PTT (platform transmitter terminal) and GPS tags and released back into wild flocks. The study birds, and the flocks into which they integrated, were tracked in the field to collect telemetry and observational data. Satellite data were used to define the types of movement behaviour (resident, ranging, migratory), and GPS data were analysed to determine key foraging and roosting habitat, and to calculate home range area estimates.

Key results: There was a significant difference in flock movement between the Urban/Peri-urban regions and the Forest region in terms of daily distances moved and distances between roosts, with these parameters being far greater for the Forest region. Additionally, flock sizes were larger in the Forest region compared with the Urban and Peri-urban regions. In Urban and Peri-urban regions, key habitat comprised remnant vegetation in urban green space (nature reserves, parks and private property), and roadside and riparian vegetation, which served as movement corridors in the landscape.

Conclusions: The research shows that it is important to maintain vegetation connectivity in the landscape. This enables Baudin’s cockatoos to utilise key patches of remnant vegetation in their non-breeding wintering grounds in Urban and Peri-urban regions of the Perth Peel Coastal Plain. Further research on the movement ecology of Baudin’s cockatoos should focus on habitat suitability modelling, which, in combination with the identified key habitat sites, will benefit the decision-making process in relation to conservation management of this endangered black cockatoo species.

Implications: This research has benefited the conservation management of Baudin’s cockatoos by providing information on key habitat through satellite tracking and outlining the importance of the connective features of remnant vegetation. We advocate for further telemetry studies combined with habitat suitability modelling to preserve the necessary habitat for the persistence of this species in the Western Australian landscape.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWildlife Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2020

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