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Recent decline of the critically endangered Plains‐wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus), and the application of a simple method for assessing its cause: major changes in grassland structure

Baker‐Gabb, David, Antos, Mark, Brown, Geoff
Ecological management & restoration 2016 v.17 no.3 pp. 235-242
grasses, grasslands, habitats, land management, overgrazing, private lands, soil
A monitored population of the critically endangered Plains‐wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) on Victoria's Northern Plains declined by over 90% between 2010 and 2012 following an unusually wet year which led to flooding, excess grass growth and a major change in the structure of native grasslands. The Plains‐wanderer population remained very low on private land during 2013 and 2014 when dry conditions prevailed and domestic stock overgrazed most of its favoured grasslands on red soil. Numbers also remained very low on public reserves despite grassland structure gradually improving there by 2014. In 2015, the population partially recovered in some grasslands protected from overgrazing. Grassland structure is critically important for Plains‐wanderer conservation. The ‘golf ball technique’ proved to be a quick and effective method for measuring grassland structure; it offers a means of accelerating responses to habitat change because it can be easily used by land managers.