Pachycephala rufogularis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Pachycephalidae

Scientific Name: Pachycephala rufogularis Gould, 1841
Common Name(s):
English Red-lored Whistler
Taxonomic Source(s): Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v); C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Boulton, R., Egan, D. & Todd, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Dutson, G., Garnett, S., North, A., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable because it has a small, declining population within which all subpopulations are very small, occurring at few locations within a very small Area of Occupancy.  Historically large parts of its range have been lost to habitat conversion, however recent declines have been primarily driven by fires.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Pachycephala rufogularis is restricted to eastern South Australia and adjacent north-western Victoria, Australia, with outlying populations in mallee isolates in New South Wales. The largest remaining population, in the Riverland Biosphere Reserve is estimated to contain c1,000 mature individuals, with 100-200 pairs in the Ngarkat / Big Desert / Wyperfeld complex and 100 pairs in the Murray-Sunset / Hattah complex. Given that there are thought to be only small numbers in Scotia and central New South Wales (500 individuals, D. Egan in litt. 2016), the total population is estimated to be no greater than 2,000 mature individuals (Garnett et al. 2011). Fires have driven ongoing population declines in much of the former range.

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:500Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:152000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:10Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population in the Riverland Biosphere Reserve is estimated to contain c1,000 mature individuals, with 100-200 pairs in the Ngarkat / Big Desert / Wyperfield complex and 100 pairs in the Murray-Sunset / Hattah complex. Given that there are thought to be only small numbers central New South Wales (500 individuals, D. Egan in litt. 2016 - with the main subpopulation located at Nombinnie and Round Hill Nature Reserves) and Scotia, the total population is estimated to be no greater than 2,000 mature individuals (Garnett et al. 2011).

Trend Justification:  The species is suspected to be declining at a rate of 20-29% over three generations (19 years) owing to deteriorating habitat quality (Garnett et al. 2011).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:6Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species breeds in mallee eucalypts 5-8 m tall that form an open canopy over a moderately dense and diverse shrub layer, and is usually found in habitats with spinifex Triodia hummock grassland or tall open heath, especially mallee unburned for 21-44 years or heath-dominated mallee unburned for 10-24 years (Garnett et al. 2011). Other woodland habitats are occupied outside the breeding season. It feeds on insects and other invertebrates and forages on or close to the ground. Red-lored Whistlers are frequently recorded in mallee burnt between 13-38 years ago at Nombinnie / Round Hill,  but with very low encounter rates in 58 year old mallee since fire (D. Egan in litt. 2016).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):6.7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Clearance of mallee in the 19th and 20th centuries caused the loss of over half the historic range of the species. In remaining habitat, fires represent the primary current threat as the species prefers a vegetation age of at least five years after fire. Fires made 90% of Billiatt Conservation Park unsuitable in 1988, as well as large tracts of Ngarkat Conservation Park and the Big Desert in 1986-1988, and a large fire burnt a substantial proportion of Taylorville Station, Riverland Biosphere Reserve in the 1990s. Over a period of 20 years, the species has been replaced by Gilbert's Whistler P. inornata at Chapman's Bore and parts of the western Murray Mallee, probably as a result of changes in habitat, however competition between the two species is thought to be secondary compared to other threats (Garnett et al. 2011). Fires in 2014 are also likely to have impacted numbers found in Riverland Biosphere Reserve, Billiatt Conservation Park and Ngarkat Conservation Park (Boulton and Lau 2015). Grazing by mammalian herbivores including livestock, feral goats Capra hircus and rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus may cause habitat degradation in some areas and predation by Red Fox Vulpes vulpes is a further potential threat (Garnett et al. 2011). Harvesting of broombush Melaleuca uncinata continues at some sites and may have negative local effects on whistler habitat (Garnett et al. 2011). Most sub-populations are now in areas managed for conservation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The majority of remaining populations are in protected areas. Central NSW population is regularly monitored and counted as part of the Saving Our Species program of the Office of Environment and Heritage in NSW. Surveys have been conducted for the species elsewhere in NSW but have failed to find any other resident populations (M. Todd in litt. 2016). The species is included in the Threatened Mallee Birds Project and resulting Conservation Action Plan (Boulton and Lau 2015).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor trends in major sub-populations, and rates of recovery from fire. Minimise the frequency and scale of fire in occupied sites. Monitor populations at key sites, especially where management is taking place, and study the distribution and numbers outside protected areas. Research the extent of genetic isolation of geographically separated populations and the potential need for active translocations, and develop a reintroduction programme if necessary. Study the efficacy of herbivore and fox control, and the impact of broombush harvesting operations, amending harvesting protocols if necessary. Manage total grazing pressure, especially from introduced herbivores. Work with landholders outside protected areas to manage their land appropriately (Garnett et al. 2011).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Pachycephala rufogularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22705434A94018449. . Downloaded on 24 June 2018.
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