New technology for ancient birds - Malleefowl
09 December 2015
The malleefowl, one of Eyre Peninsula’s most iconic wild birds is about to have its annual population check-up.
The National Malleefowl Recovery Team trained 25 local volunteers and Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula staff to use new specialised smartphone enabled software to monitor malleefowl nests and record sightings.
The new mobile phone-based software program, Cybertracker is a welcome addition to the monitoring program as it enters its 12th year providing valuable breeding population information to the National Malleefowl Database.
Landscape Biologist Dr Greg Kerr said the program will improve data collection efficiency and ensure maps and GPS locations of all previously discovered nest mounds are easily accessible for registered users.
“Volunteers and staff can now directly upload malleefowl nest mound photos and details such as if it’s an old or new mound, if it’s being used this season or is inactive, or even if there are broken malleefowl eggshells present which may indicate breeding success or that something has raided the nest,” Dr Kerr said.
Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) come from an ancient lineage of early birds millions of years old.
Now an Endangered species in South Australia malleefowl populations have declined dramatically over the past century.
“Malleefowl continue to survive on the Eyre Peninsula in patches of habitat, both on private land and in National Parks,” Dr Kerr said.
“Interestingly, they are one of only three species of Megapodes (mound builders) in Australia who build and rebuild large mounds of decaying plant material and soil in order to incubate their eggs.
“Breeding in this way makes them highly susceptible to being killed by foxes and feral cats however, keeping them within the landscape is important to health of ecosystems because of the way they disperse seeds, scratch and scrap the mallee-woodland ground controlling or making way for new plants and smaller animals and insects.”
Near Lock, local volunteers have been surveying and monitoring around 50 malleefowl mounds since 2003.
Other monitoring grids are surveyed near Cowell, Munyaroo Conservation Park, Pinkawillinie and Hincks Conservation Reserves and are due to start this month.
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