Species in our landscapes research

Keystone species

Research has shown that habitats with greater species diversity are more resilient to events such as fire or drought, and that particular species play a major role in keeping a habitat functioning. Such species may act as primary producers, habitat formers, pollinators, soil aerators or nutrient recyclers, or be top-order predators.

By focusing on protecting and restoring populations of these keystone species we'll help achieve more robust ecosystem function and healthier landscapes overall.

Indicator species

The critically endangered Red-finned Blue-eye. Photo Adam Kerezsy.
The critically endangered Red-finned Blue-eye. Photo Adam Kerezsy.
The presence of specific species in the landscape can indicate whether or not elements of a habitat are functioning well. As our efforts to restore keystone species make our conservation work more effective by helping to drive ecosystem function, so indicator species help us monitor our progress.

Our work will focus on protecting and restoring the priority habitats in each landscape we work in, and we'll monitor our progress by tracking the health of indicator species that rely on those habitats.

Culturally significant species

These species are important to our culture or to that of our partners. In many cases, these species are also keystone or indicator species. Maintaining current populations or bringing these species back to the landscape will be driven by the community for which they have special significance.

The Golden-shouldered Parrot is an important species for the Olkola people of Cape York. Photo Geoffrey Jones.
The Golden-shouldered Parrot is an important species for the Olkola people of Cape York. Photo Geoffrey Jones.
This research theme will ask:

  • Which critical species are required to drive function in each landscape?
  • What are the best indicator species for our conservation targets?
  • Which species carry special cultural significance?
  • What are the key threatening processes for all of these species?
  • What are the key requirements to maintain these species in the landscape?
  • What are the most effective means of abating threats and increasing the viability of threatened species?

Case study: Re-introducing the nationally vulnerable red-tailed phascogale into Kojonup Reserve

Angela at Kojonup ReserveAngela Sanders with a Red-tailed Phascogale at Kojonup Reserve, WA. Photo Geoff Corrick

Bush Heritage Australia’s first translocation of a threatened mammal – the tiny Red-tailed Phascogale – into the largest protected area of wandoo woodland in Western Australia’s Kojonup region has boosted the prospects of long-term survival of this tiny tree-leaping marsupial.

Once widespread across much of Western Australia and semi-arid southern Australia, Bush Heritage partnered with Western Australia’s Department of Parks and Wildlife to reduce the threat of extinction for the phascogale.

In two phases, from 2010 to 2012, 30 phascogales were translocated onto Kojonup Reserve using wool-lined nest boxes to augment natural hollows used for nesting and breeding. Bush Heritage’s long-term feral predator and rabbit control program at Kojonup Reserve has protected them from predators and maintained habitat quality. 

Several years on, the phascogales are breeding and continuing to use the nest boxes extensively, with additional boxes added to extend the area and encourage the population to grow.

Key projects

Re-introducing the nationally vulnerable Red-tailed Phascogale into Kojonup Reserve

In partnership with Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife, Bush Heritage has established a population of phascogales on Kojonup Reserve in Western Australia, through wild-to-wild translocation, provision of nest-boxes and ongoing feral animal control and fire management.

Swift parrot. Photo Graeme Chapman.

Swift Parrot. Photo Graeme Chapman.

Recovery of one of the world’s most endangered species, the Red-finned Blue-eye fish, at Edgbaston Reserve

A multi-faceted project, being led by Bush Heritage, to develop techniques to eradicate and then quarantine springs from invasive fish, enabling new populations of Red-finned Blue-eye to be established through relocation.

Recovery and supplementation of threatened Victorian orchids

Bush Heritage is working with Julie Whitfield from Amaryllis Environmental to monitor and increase the populations of rare and threatened orchids such as the robust greenhood and Stuart Mill spider-orchid on Nardoo Hills and JC Griffin reserves.

Searching for the elusive Marsupial Mole

In partnership with Joe Benshemesh from La Trobe University and the Birriliburu rangers, we are undertaking surveys in the Little Sandy Desert for one of the most elusive and reclusive of creatures, the northern marsupial mole.

Malleefowl nest mound discovery and monitoring

Long-term partnership with the Northern Malleefowl Protection Group to search for Malleefowl mounds and conduct annual monitoring of mound activity at Eurardy and Charles Darwin reserves, Western Australia.

Establishing a new population of the vulnerable Striped Legless Lizard on Scottsdale Reserve

Working with Brett Howland from ANU, we're salvaging Striped Legless Lizards from a development site and relocating them to grassland on Scottsdale Reserve.

Re-introduction of threatened mammals onto Bush Heritage properties

Building on an existing partnership with Arid Recovery developed through the South Australian Rangelands Alliance, we will seek to release threatened critical weight range mammals onto Bon Bon and Boolcoomatta reserves.

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