Tropical Savannas CRC > Research > Conservation > Vertebrate biogeography

Vertebrate biogeography

Vertebrate biogeography

Project Leader: Dr John Woinarski, Parks & Wildlife Commission of the NT, Darwin

Project 2.1.1 

Summary | Highlights & Challenges | Collaborative Approaches | ProgressInformation and learning products | Future Directions | Publications | Project Team |

John Woinarski, left, receives the 2001 Eureka Prize for Biodiverstiy Research

John Woinarski, left, receives the 2001 Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research. Link to the story below. Photo: Australian Museum

 

Summary

The final year of this project was 2001–2002. During its life (1996–2002) the project examined the state of biodiversity, and its response to land management, across much of the tropical savannas.

Major advances were made in delineating the pattern of changing status of the biodiversity of the tropical savannas, the broad adoption of systematic biodiversity sampling protocols, and an information base built up which describes the relationship between biodiversity and management practices.

The project produced a large number of reports and scientific publications (see below), and its staff presented key findings at a wide range of fora.

Major areas of advance concerned the responses of biodiversity to pastoralism and other forms of land management, the distribution and state of vertebrate biodiversity across the tropical savannas generally, and the delivery of options for biodiversity conservation.

Although the project was based primarily in the Northern Territory, major research activities were also conducted in central Queensland, including the Desert Uplands, Brigalow Belt North and Einasleigh Uplands bioregions. A large number of postgraduate students are supervised by, or collaborated with, staff in this project.

Information and approaches used in this project were important for a range of land-use decision-making exercises, notably including the Daly Basin and Tiwi Islands, and are being considered by pastoral stakeholders for the development of some pastoral management options in the Victoria River District and Barkly Tablelands of the Northern Territory.

More pervasively and generally, information from this project relating to biodiversity values and conservation management has informed management decisions across all land tenure types in northern Australia.

Highlights and challenges

Highlight included the willingness of stakeholders to consider the approaches and results of our work. Many pastoral stakeholder groups are now seeking out project staff for advice on biodiversity, and are working cooperatively with us to research and manage biodiversity and enterprise options.

The other major highlight of our work was its national recognition, through the awarding of the prestigious Eureka Prize to John Woinarski for work including that undertaken in this project (2001).

Collaborative approaches

This project supported collaboration between Parks & Wildlife Commission of the NT and the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency on the application of conservation planning software for at least two bioregions in Queensland savannas.

A collaborative approach was also developed to assess the status of biodiversity across northern Western Australia, the Top End of the Northern Territory and the tropical savannas of Queensland.

The project also worked collaboratively with CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (Townsville) and the Department of Defence to assess biodiversity in a major military training area in central Queensland.

Progress

Specifically during 2000–2, the project:

  • provided substantial input to the TS–CRC’s documentation of landscape health;
  • provided a framework for biodiversity conservation in the northern grassy landscapes;
  • successfully sought funding for a proposed study on the relationships of biodiversity to a range of currently used measures of landscape health.
  • completed a detailed analysis of the relationship of grazing intensity to biodiversity in the Mitchell grasslands;
  • completed a major review of the trends in biodiversity across all Australian rangeland bioregions (see Rangelands Biodiversity report in links below);
  • reported on biodiversity condition in landscapes subjected to pastoralism, military use, and no use, at Townsville Field Training Area;
  • completed a major report on land-use options in the Daly Basin bioregion;
  • analysed a range of conservation scenarios in the Desert Uplands bioregion, and coordinated the exchange of technological capability among PWCNT and QEPA;
  • sampled biodiversity at two adjacent sites of contrasting fire history (20+ years of fire exclusion vs. annual burning), near Darwin.
  • extended the Biograze project, to explore options with pastoral managers about balancing conservation and production values in the rangelands;
  • commenced a re-survey of mammal fauna at sites surveyed 30 years previously in central Queenland;
  • commenced a re-survey of mammal fauna at sites surveyed from 10 to 20 years previously in Kakadu National Park;
  • completed a manuscript on 130 years of change at one pivotal site in central Queensland. (See Savanna Links article below.).

Information and learning products

The project contributed to the production of information on the CRC’s website, and to a range of CRC publications (including Healthy Country in the VRD, Northern Grassy Landscapes Conference, and fire publication, Savanna Burning).

It also provided a range of presentations and lectures, to diverse groups including Savanna Guides, teachers, guest lectures at NTU courses, and pastoral stakeholder groups;

The project continued to supervise MSc and PhD projects on fragmentation and biodiversity (in both the Darwin area and central Queensland), and on the impacts upon biodiversity of feral pigs on Aboriginal lands. continued to provide supervision and/or collaboration to postgraduate students (including Alaric Fisher, Chris Brock, Anthea Dee, Fiona Fraser, Dave Hannah, Alex Kutt, Anna Maria van Doorn, Kerry Beggs, Michelle Watson, Ron Firth and Brooke Rankmore).

Future directions

The project has developed a very substantial database of biodiversity distributional records and assessments of status, which will continue to be analysed and published over the next few years.

The project will also evolve into a series of more focused avenues, including projects within the new TS–CRC on

  • decline of mammal fauna
  • biodiversity monitoring and assessment
  • off-reserve conservation initiatives and options.

Publications

2002

Whitehead, P.J., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Franklin, D. & Price, O. (in press), ‘Landscape ecology, wildlife management and conservation in northern Australia: linking policy, practice and capability in regional planning’, in Landscape ecology and resource management: linking theory with practice, eds I. Storch & J.A. Bissonette, Island Press.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Dawson, F. 2002, ‘Limitless lands and limited knowledge: coping with uncertainty and ignorance in northern Australia’, in Ecology, Uncertainty and Policy: managing ecosystems for sustainability, eds J.W. Handmer, T.W. Norton & S.R. Dovers, Prentice-Hall.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Ash, A.J. 2002, ‘Responses of vertebrates to pastoralism, military land use and landscape position in an Australian tropical savanna’, Austral Ecology, vol. 27, pp. 311-323.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Andersen, A.N., Churchill, T. & Ash, A.J. 2002, ‘Response of ant and terrestrial spider assemblages to pastoral and military land use, and to landscape position, in a tropical savanna woodland in northern Australia’, Austral Ecology, vol. 27, pp. 324-333.

Williams, J., Keith, D. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. 2002, ‘Biodiversity conservation – fire management from remnants to regions’, in Flammable Australia: the fire regimes and biodiversity of a continent, eds R. Bradstock, M. Gill & J. Williams, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 401-425.

Russell-Smith, J., Start, T. & Woinarski, J. 2001, ‘Effects of fire in the landscape’, in Savanna burning: understanding and using fire in northern Australia, eds R. Dyer, P. Jacklyn, I. Partridge, J. Russell-Smith & R. Williams, Tropical Savannas CRC, Darwin, pp. 29-49.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Milne, D.J. & Wanganeen, G. 2001, ‘Changes in mammal populations in relatively intact landscapes of Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia’, Austral Ecology, vol. 26, pp. 360-370.

Vardon, M.J., Brocklehurst, P.S., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Cunningham, R.B., Donnelly, C.F. & Tidemann, C.R. 2001, ‘Seasonal habitat use by flying-foxes Pteropus alecto and P. scapulatus (Megachiroptera) in monsoonal Australia’, Journal of Zoology, London, vol. 253, pp. 523-535.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Fisher, A., Brennan, K., Morris, I. & Chatto, R. 2001, ‘Patterns of bird species richness on islands off Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia’, Australian Journal of Ecology, vol. 26, pp. 1-13.

Fisher, A. (2001). Biogeography and conservation of Mitchell grasslands in northern Australia. PhD thesis. Northern territory University: Darwin.

Woinarski, J. & Baker, B. (2002). Tiwi-Cobourg bioregion, Northern Territory. Biodiversity audit - bioregional case study. Report to National Land and Water Resources Audit. . (Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory: Darwin.)

Whitehead, P., Woinarski, J., Fisher, A., Fensham, R. & Beggs, K. (2001). Developing an analytical framework for monitoring biodiversity in Australia’s rangelands. Project 3 - Theme 4 (Rangelands monitoring). Report to National Land and Water Resources Audit. . (Tropical Savannas CRC: Darwin.)

2001

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Andersen, A.N., Churchill, T. & Ash, A.J. (in press), 'Response of ant and terrestrial spider assemblages to pastoral and military land use, and to landscape position, in a tropical savanna woodland in northern Australia', Ecological Management & Restoration.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z. (in press), 'Fire, flood and other stochastic disturbance events', in Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Biodiversity and Conservation, ed. G. McKay, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Whitehead, P.J. (in press), 'Introductory remarks: Conservation management at a landscape scale in northern Australia—coping with uncertainty and change', in Proceedings of the Australian Wildlife Management Society conference, Darwin, 1999.

James, C. D., M. Stafford Smith, J. Landsberg, A. Fisher, R. Tynan, J. Maconochie & J. Woinarski. 2000, 'Biograze - melding off-reserve conservation of native species with animal production in Australian rangelands' in Nature Conservation 5: Conservation in Production Environments: Managing the Matrix, ed. by J. L. Craig, N. Mitchell & D. A. Saunders, Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Sydney, pp 290-300.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Dawson, F. (in press), 'Limitless lands and limited knowledge: coping with uncertainty and ignorance in northern Australia', in Ecology, Uncertainty and Policy: managing ecosystems for sustainability, eds T.W. Norton, J.W. Handmer & S.R. Dovers, Longmans, London.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Milne, D.J. & Wanganeen, G. (in press), 'Changes in mammal populations in relatively intact landscapes of Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia', Austral Ecology.

*Williams, J., Keith, D. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. (in press), 'Biodiversity conservation - fire management from remnants to regions', in Flammable Australia: the fire regimes and biodiversity of a continent, eds R. Bradstock, M. Gill & J. Williams.

Vardon, M.J., Brocklehurst, P.S., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Cunningham, R.B., Donnelly, C.F. & Tidemann, C.R. 2001, 'Seasonal habitat use by flying-foxes Pteropus alecto and P. scapulatus (Megachiroptera) in monsoonal Australia', Journal of Zoology, London, vol. 253, pp. 523-35.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Fisher, A., Brennan, K., Morris, I. & Chatto, R. 2001, 'Patterns of bird species richness on islands off Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia', Australian Journal of Ecology vol. 26, pp. 1-13.

Woinarski, J. C. Z., Brock, C., Armstrong, M., Hempel, C., Cheal, D. & Brennan, K. 2000, 'Bird distribution in riparian vegetation of an Australian tropical savanna: a broad-scale survey and analysis of distributional data base', Journal of Biogeography vol. 27, pp. 843-68.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Armstrong, M., Brennan, K., Connors, G., Milne, D., McKenzie, G. & Edwards, K. 2000, 'A different fauna?: captures of vertebrates in a pipeline trench, compared with conventional survey techniques; and a consideration of mortality patterns in a pipeline trench' Australian Zoologist vol. 31, pp. 421-31.

Franklin, D.C., Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Noske, R.A. 2000, 'Geographic patterning of species richness among granivorous birds in Australia', Journal of Biogeography vol. 27, pp. 829-42.

Ludwig, J.A., Eager, R.W., Liedloff, A.C., McCosker, J.C., Hannah, D., Thurgate, N.Y., Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Catterall, C.P. 2000, 'Clearing and grazing impacts on vegetation patch structures and fauna counts in eucalypt woodland, central Queensland', Pacific Conservation Biology vol. 6, pp. 254-72.

Fisher, A., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Churchill, S., Trainor, C., Griffiths, A.D., Palmer, C. & Cooper, N. 2000, 'Distribution of the rock-dwelling dasyurids Pseudantechinus bilarni and Pseudantechinus ningbing in the Northern Territory', NT Naturalist no. 16, pp. 1-13.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. 2000, 'Range extension of the Inland Thornbill Acanthiza apicalis into the wet-dry tropics', NT Naturalist no. 16, pp. 28-31.

Cowie, I.D., Armstrong, M.D., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Brocklehurst, P.S., Short, P.S. & Dunlop, C.R. 2000, 'An overview of the floodplains', in Floodplain flora. A flora of the coastal floodplains of the Northern Territory, Australia. Flora of Australia Supplementary Series no. 10., eds. I.D. Cowie, P.S. Short & M. Osterkamp Madsen, Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, & Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Darwin, pp. 1-33.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z., Fisher, A. & Fensham, R. 2000, 'Conservation of the garssy landscapes of northern Australia', I n Northern grassy landscapes. Conference Proceedings. Tropical Savannnas CRC, Darwin, pp. 5-15.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Brennan, K., Dee, A., Njudumul, J., Guthayguthay, P. & Horner, P. 2000, 'Further records of the False Water-rat Xeromys myoides from coastal Northern Territory', Australian Mammalogy vol. 21, pp. 245-47.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. 2000, 'The conservation status of rodents in the monsoonal tropics of the Northern Territory', Wildlife Research vol. 27, pp. 421-35.

Cole, J. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. 2000, 'Rodents of the arid Northern Territory: conservation status and distribution', Wildlife Research vol. 27, pp. 437-49.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Franklin, D. & Connors, G. 2000, 'Thinking honeyeater: nectar maps for the Northern Territory, Australia, showing spatial and temporal variation in nectar availability', Pacific Conservation Biology vol. 6, pp. 61-80.

Trainor, C., Fisher, A., Woinarski, J. & Churchill, S. 2000, 'Multiscale patterns of habitat use by the Carpentarian rock-rat (Zyzomys palatalis) and the common rock-rat (Z. argurus)', Wildlife Research vol. 27, pp. 319-32.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Brennan, K., Cowie, I., Fisher, A., Latz, P.K. & Russell-Smith, J. 2000, 'Vegetation of the Wessel and English Company islands, north-eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia', Australian Journal of Botany vol. 48, pp. 115-41.

Price, O., Milne, D., Connors, G., Harwood, B., Woinarski, J., and Butler, M. (in press). A conservation plan for the Daly Basin bioregion. Report to Natural Heritage Trust, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Ash, A.J., Bastin, G., Burrows, D., Roth, C. and Woinarski, J. 2000, 'Determining how livestock grazing and military training activities affect long-term sustainability of tropical savanna ecosystems', LWRRDC Final Technical Report, CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, Townsville.

2000

*Woinarski, J.C.Z., and Whitehead, P.J. (in press), 'Introductory remarks: Conservation management at a landscape scale in northern Australia - coping with uncertainty and change'. In (AWMS symposium)

* Fisher, A. (in press), ' Wildlife conservation within a pastoral landscape: the Mitchell grasslands of northern Australia'. In (AWMS symposium).

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Fisher, A., Brennan, K., Morris, I., & Chatto, R. (in press), 'Patterns of bird species richness on islands off Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia'. Australian Journal of Ecology.

Woinarski, J. C. Z., Brock, C., Armstrong, M., Hempel, C., Cheal, D. & Brennan, K. (in press), 'Bird distribution in riparian vegetation of an Australian tropical savanna: a broad-scale survey and analysis of distributional data base'. Journal of Biogeography.

James, C. D., Stafford Smith, M., Landsberg, J., Fisher, A., Tynan, R., Maconochie, J. & Woinarski, J. (in press), 'Biograze - melding off-reserve conservation of native species with animal production in Australian rangelands'. Nature Conservation 5: Conservation in Production Environments: Managing the Matrix' ed. J. L. Craig, N. Mitchell, and D. A. Saunders. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Sydney, pp. 290-300.

Fisher, A., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Churchill, S., Trainor, C., Griffiths, A.D., Palmer, C. & Cooper, N. (in press). 'Distribution of the rock-dwelling dasyurids Pseudantechinus bilarni and Pseudantechinus ningbing in the Northern Territory'. NT Naturalist.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. (in press). 'Range extension of the Inland Thornbill Acanthiza apicalis into the wet-dry tropics'. NT Naturalist.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. (in press). 'The conservation status of rodents in the Top End of the Northern Territory'. Wildlife Research.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Brennan, K., Cowie, I., Fisher, A., Latz, P.K. & Russell-Smith, J. (in press). 'Vegetation of the Wessel and English Company islands, north-eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia'. Australian Journal of Botany.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z., and Dawson, F. (in press). 'Limitless lands and limited knowledge: coping with uncertainty and ignorance in northern Australia'. In Ecology, Uncertainty and Policy: managing ecosystems for sustainability. eds T.W. Norton, J.W. Handmer and S.R. Dovers, Longmans: London.

Cole, J. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. (in press). 'Rodents of the arid Northern Territory: conservation status and distribution'. Wildlife Research.

*Williams, J., Keith, D. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. (in press). 'Biodiversity conservation - fire management from remnants to regions'. In Flammable Australia: the fire regimes and biodiversity of a continent eds R. Bradstock, M. Gill and J. Williams.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Franklin, D. & Connors, G. (in press). 'Thinking honeyeater: nectar maps for the Northern Territory, Australia, showing spatial and temporal variation in nectar availability'. Pacific Conservation Biology.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Brennan, K., Dee, A., Njudumul, J., Guthayguthay, P. & Horner, P. (in press). 'Further records of the False Water-rat Xeromys myoides from coastal Northern Territory'. Australian Mammalogy.

Franklin, D.C., Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Noske, R.A. (in press). 'Geographic patterning of species richness among granivorous birds in Australia'. Journal of Biogeography.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Horner, P., Fisher, A., Brennan, K., Lindner, D., Gambold, N., Chatto, R. & Morris, I. 1999. 'Distributional patterning of terrestrial herpetofauna on the Wessel and English Company Island groups, north-eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia'. Australian Journal of Ecology 24, 60-79.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. 1999. 'Fire and Australian birds: a review', in Australia's Biodiversity - responses to fire ed. Anon. Biodiversity Technical Paper no. 1., Environment Australia: Canberra. pp. 55-111.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. 1999. 'Fire and Australian birds: an annotated bibliography', In Australia's Biodiversity - responses to fire ed. Anon. Biodiversity Technical Paper no. 1. Environment Australia: Canberra. pp. 113-180.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Palmer, C., Fisher, A., Southgate, R., Masters, P. & Brennan, K. 1999. 'Distributional patterning of mammals on the Wessel and English Company islands, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia'. Australian Journal of Zoology 47, 87-111.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Brock, C., Fisher, A., Milne, D. & Oliver, B. 1999. 'Response of birds and reptiles to fire regimes on pastoral land in the Victoria River District, Northern Territory'. The Rangeland Journal 21, 24-38.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Gambold, N., Wurst, D., Flannery, T.F., Smith, A.P., Chatto, R. & Fisher, A. 1999. 'Distribution and habitat of the Northern Hopping Mouse Notomys aquilo.' Wildlife Research 26, 495-511.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z. 1999. 'Prognosis and framework for the conservation of biodiversity in rangelands: building on the north Australian experience'. In People and Rangelands: building the future. Proceedings of the VIth International Rangelands Congress. eds D. Eldridge and D. Freudenberger VI International Rangelands Congress, Inc: Aitkenvale, Qld., pp. 639-645.

Cook, G.D., Andersen, A.N., Churchill, T.B., Ludwig, J.A., Tongway, D., Williams, R.J. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. 1999. 'Indicators of ecosystem change in north Australian savannas'. In People and Rangelands: building the future. Proceedings of the VIth International Rangelands Congress. eds D. Eldridge and D. Freudenberger VI International Rangelands Congress, Inc: Aitkenvale, Qld., pp. 124-125.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Franklin, D. & Connors, G. 1999. 'Landscape mapping of nectar resources as a base for conservation management'. Australian Biologist 12, 97-105.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Fisher, A. & Milne, D. 1999. 'Distribution patterns of vertebrates in relation to an extensive rainfall gradient and soil variation in the tropical savannas of the Northern Territory, Australia'. Journal of Tropical Ecology 15, 381-398.

Price, O.F., Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Robinson, D. 1999. 'Very large area requirements for frugivorous birds in monsoon rainforests of the Northern Territory, Australia'. Biological Conservation 91, 169-180.

Palmer, C. & Woinarski, J.C.Z. 1999. 'Seasonal roosts and foraging movements of the black flying fox Pteropus alecto in the Northern Territory: resource tracking in a landscape mosaic'. Wildlife Research 26, 823-838.

*Woinarski, J.C.Z. & Fisher, A. 1999. 'The Australian Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.' Conservation Biology 13, 959-962. Fisher, A. (1999) 'Conservation assessment of the Mitchell Grasslands in northern Australia.' Report to Environment Australia, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Eldridge, S., Fisher, A. & Brock, C. (1999), 'Monitoring impacts of military use and destocking on clay grasslands and woodlands in the Bradshaw Field Training Area.' Report to the Department of Defence, Parks & Wildlife Commission NT, Alice Springs.

 

Project team

Mr Martin Armstrong, PWCNT
Mr Chris Brock, PWCNT
Mr Greg Connors, PWCNT
Mr Alaric Fisher, PWCNT
Alex Kutt, JCU PhD (now complete)
MR David Milne, PWCNT
Mr Owen Price, PWCNT
Dr John Woinarski, PWCNT
Anthea Dee ANU PhD student
AnnaMaria van Doorn, Florida State Uni PhD student
Ron Firth, NTU PhD student
Michelle Watson, NTU PhD student

Articles

Eureka! Territory scientist wins national science award

DARWIN scientist Dr John Woinarski has been awarded the 2001 Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research This prize sponsored by the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Australian Museum is one of… [read more...]

Contacts

Dr John Woinarski
NT Dept Natural Resourcs, Environment, the Arts and Sport
Tel: 08 8995 5000

Fax: 08 8995 5099

PO Box 496
PALMERSTON, NT 0831


New Contacts

Dr John Woinarski
NT Dept Natural Resourcs, Environment, the Arts and Sport
Tel: 08 8995 5000

Fax: 08 8995 5099

PO Box 496
PALMERSTON, NT 0831