Australia's most threatened bird species share some common traits.

Research led by Dr. George Olah identified characteristics of birds that increase their risk of extinction. Credit: Dejan Stojanovic/ANU

Australian birds that live on islands are among the most threatened with extinction, first-of-its-kind research from the Australian National University (ANU) has revealed. There is study published In the journal Emu – Australian Ornithology.

Australia has over 750 species of birds. But lead author Dr. George Olah said many of them face an uncertain future. He said that this number is quite sad. By 2020, eight species were already considered extinct and 10% were at risk of extinction.

“But if we understand more about the factors that increase extinction risk, we can better prioritize conservation efforts. Some species are more vulnerable to extinction than others. I wanted to know the reason.”

Dr. Olah and his team found three factors that were particularly important. “First, island-only species were at high risk of extinction. Think of Tasmania’s iconic swift parrot and the orange-bellied parrot, both considered critically endangered,” Dr Olah said. “This may be because they are less prepared for the risks involved. such as rats, cats and other mammals.”

Another factor was the species’ ability to adapt to survive in agricultural areas. “The more they were able to find food “If they can adapt to take advantage of the new agricultural lands, perhaps after some of their habitat is destroyed, they will be less at risk,” Dr. Olah said. To make, that’s probably a big advantage. species.”

A third important factor was the evolutionary distinctiveness or “individuality” of species. The researchers came up with a score based on things like how many other species are in a large bird family.

“The burden of extinction risk disproportionately affects species with greater individuality,” said Dr Ola. “Some of these common traits also connect to form a larger pattern. For example, we know of slow species that have larger body sizes and perhaps general environmental changes to survive longer. It’s hard to compete.”

The study also found that assessing conservation status only at the species level may mask greater extinction risk at the more granular subspecies level.

For example, the ground parrot is considered Least Concern as a species today based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, its western subspecies, found in coastal Western Australia, is considered critically endangered in Australia. Dr. Ola said.

“Similarly, the moorhen, a small owl species, is of least concern globally due to its large range size in New Zealand, but its subspecies in Norfolk Island are critically endangered in Australia. While other subspecies are already extinct from Lord Howe Island.”

Forms part of the study Special issue of Emo On threats to Australian birds.

Dr. Olah was also a co-author on it. Another study The issue, led by Alex Berryman of BirdLife International, looked at trends and patterns of extinction risk for Australia’s birds over the past three decades. The study calculated the Red List Index for all Australian birds – a measure of extinction rate based on the IUCN Red List.

“Between 2010 and 2020 there was a more than 50 per cent increase in extinction risk due to the 2019-2020 bushfires,” Mr Berryman said.

“The biggest overall increase was in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales, where the effects of drought and bushfires were most pronounced. Australia is failing right now. to reduce 2022 under the Global Biodiversity Framework.”

More information:
George Olah et al., Biological Characteristics of Australian Threatened Birds, Emu – Australian Ornithology (2024). DOI: 10.1080/01584197.2023.2285821

Reference: Australia’s most threatened bird species share some common traits (2024, Feb 18) Accessed 18 Feb 2024 at https://phys.org/news/2024-02-australia-bird-species-common- Retrieved from traits.html

This document is subject to copyright. No part may be reproduced without written permission, except for any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research. The content is provided for informational purposes only.