Three black cockatoo species are endemic to south-west Western Australia, a recognised global biodiversity hotspot – Carnaby’s cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), Baudin’s cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) and forest red-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso).
All three species are protected under Federal and State legislation and endangered by the rapidly increasing urban and industrial development in the south-west of WA.
Habitat loss is considered the major threatening factor, but flock movements, habitat use and critical feeding and breeding sites in southern forest regions remain largely unknown.
Psittacine beak and feather disease virus (PBFD) and avian polyomavirus (APV) infections have been identified in wild black cockatoo nestlings, however the clinical significance of these diseases for survival of these species is not known and urgently needs to be determined to inform conservation management strategies.
Additionally, there is concern many birds may be past breeding age; which could lead to catastrophic population decline.
Illegal shooting of black cockatoos by fruit orchardists and nut farmers, who consider the birds to be pests, poses a significant threat to these birds, particularly Baudin’s cockatoos.
Conversely, many people see these endangered birds on a regular basis in their environs and have a strong affiliation with them, with images of the birds being depicted in public places and environmental lobby groups using them as flagships for habitat conservation.
Yet the fact these birds are highly visible and are seen in urban and rural communities, has led to some members of the public failing to understand the gravity of the population decline suffered by these species.
This project will:
- Combine biological, social and systems research on black cockatoos in south-west Western Australia (WA), to assist decision-making about black cockatoo conservation at State and Federal levels.
- Monitor flock movements to determine habitat use, impact of habitat loss, identify critical feeding and breeding habitat and monitor conflict interaction with orchards/nut farms.
- Determine whether disease is a threatening factor for black cockatoos.
- Conduct demographic research targeting deficiencies in the basic information available for black cockatoos; including a lack of information about species-level age structure, which is limiting the use of population viability analyses in recovery efforts.
- Assess public and stakeholder attitudes and behaviours to determine how widely various views on black cockatoos and their management are held and provide an initial social input to the prototypes being developed associated with this study.
- Allow modelling to provide an assessment and prioritisation of the identified ecological, biophysical and socio-economic threats to black cockatoos.