||Leipoa ocellata Gould, 1840
||Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
||60 cm. Very large, brown-and-grey megapode. Adults alike. Predominant colouring pale grey-brown, broad black marking down throat. Black, white and chestnut barred upperparts. Juvenile dull grey-brown, barred cream on upperparts. Voice Loud booming (only male), grunts, crooning and conversational notes.
|Red List Category & Criteria:
||Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
||Baker, G., Benshemesh, J., Dennings, S. & Priddel, D.
||Garnett, S., Keane, A., McClellan, R., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Taylor, J., Allinson, T, Symes, A.
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has undergone a rapid decline over the last three generations (50 years), based on a decline in its range owing to habitat clearance and fragmentation, and the compounding effects of introduced species. There has been some recovery in parts of the range, but some reserves may prove too small to support viable populations without intensive management.
|Previously published Red List assessments:|
- 2012 – Vulnerable (VU)
- 2008 – Vulnerable (VU)
- 2004 – Vulnerable (VU)
- 2000 – Vulnerable (VU)
- 1996 – Vulnerable (VU)
- 1994 – Vulnerable (VU)
- 1988 – Threatened (T)
|Range Description:||Leipoa ocellata was formerly widespread in Australia, but its range appears to have contracted by about 50% during the 20th Century (Benshemesh 2000). It now occurs at scattered locations throughout southern Australian, with the largest contiguous expanse of habitat stretching east from the Western Australian wheatbelt (Garnett et al. 2011). Estimates in the 1980s suggested there were only 750 pairs in New South Wales and less than 1,000 pairs in Victoria. Numbers in South Australia are probably higher, perhaps several thousand pairs. However, data from protected areas suggests that densities in this state have typically declined by 75% since 1989-1990, with populations in New South Wales probably declining at about the same rate (Priddel et al. 2007). The species' population in Western Australia is believed to exceed the total in all other states, although records from this state generally represent less than 40% of all current and past records, despite efforts since the 1990s to encourage reports of sightings (J. Benshemesh in litt. 2007). By 1989, the range and abundance of this species was judged to have contracted dramatically in the arid areas of South and Western Australia (Robinson et al. 1990), but since then it has been found at numerous sites in these states (J. Benshemesh in litt. 2007). The species is judged to be in a continuing decline across its range (Priddel et al. 2007). It has not been recorded for several decades (and is probably extinct) in the Northern Territory (Benshemesh 2000). Despite the availability of survey data from sites across its range (J. Benshemesh in litt. 2007), an accurate recent estimate of the total population size is lacking. Garnett and Crowley (2000) estimated the population size at around 100,000 based on a density of 1–2 pairs per km2 over an AOO of 40,000 km2. There is some evidence that over the last decade there has been a general increase across south-west New South Wales and Victoria and that numbers may have levelled out in South Australia (Garnett et al. 2011). For instance, at 34 sites in Victoria, counts in 2010 were higher than they had been for 15 years (J. Benshemesh in litt. in Garnett et al. 2011). |
|♦ Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):||Yes|
|♦ Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):||No||♦ Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:||3290000|
|♦ Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):||Unknown||♦ Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):||No|
|♦ Number of Locations:||11-100||♦ Continuing decline in number of locations:||Unknown|
|♦ Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:||No|
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
Clearance for agriculture has eliminated much habitat and some patches are affected by raised salinity levels, resulting in fragmented populations and a higher risk of localised extinction from starvation and bushfires (Frith 1962, Benshemesh 2000, S. Dennings in litt. 2004). The survival rate of young birds is low, mainly owing to predation by the introduced red fox Vulpes vulpes (Priddel et al. 2007). Small-scale experiments suggest that the level of predation is significant in both disturbed and relatively undisturbed habitats, but is higher in habitats affected by fire, introduced herbivores and plant harvesting, compared to protected areas, and decreases with increasing levels of fox control (Priddel et al. 2007). However, fox control measures can have little impact on reversing declines (Benshemesh et al. 2007). Feral cats Felis catus also prey on chicks (Wheeler & Priddel, 2009) and their numbers can increase after fox baiting (Short 2004). It is highly sensitive to grazing by introduced herbivores such as goats (S. Dennings in litt. 2004) and sheep (Frith 1962), large-scale wildfire (Benshemesh 1990), and may suffer predation by wild dogs (Frith 1962, Priddel and Wheeler 1997). Introduced weed species may also affect habitat quality (S. Dennings in litt. 2004). Other threats include infertility, possibly attributable to agricultural chemicals, and road-kills where birds feed on spilt roadside grain (Benshemesh 1999).