Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Rostratula australis has been recorded in wetlands in all states of Australia. It is more common in eastern Australia, where it has been recorded at scattered locations throughout much of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and south-eastern South Australia (C. Jones in litt. 2009). The Murray-Darling Basin appears to be a particular stronghold (Thomas et al. 2010). It has been recorded less frequently at a smaller number of more scattered locations farther west in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia (C. Jones in litt. 2009). However, the relevant importance of northern and southern habitats are still subject to debate (S. Garnett in litt. 2009). The population was previously thought to number 5,000 individuals, though it is now believed highly unlikely that the population exceeds 2,500 and it may number between 1,000 and 1,500 individuals (S. Garnett in litt. 2009). Analysis of data from Birds Australia confirms that the species has been in decline. Although the precise rate is difficult to establish due to different survey methods, the cryptic nature of the species, and the lack of extensive surveys in the arid zone of northern Australia, a population decline of >30% is estimated for the past 26 years (3 generations) (Garnett et al. 2011).

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Range

E and n Australia; vagrant to Tasmania.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Behaviour Occasional records from remote places indicate that the species can move long distances and may be dispersive or migratory, and a north-south migration has been postulated (S. Garnett in litt. 2009, R. Jaensch in litt. 2009). It is generally thought to be crepuscular, but may be nocturnal. Individuals are usually seen singly, but it may be seen in pairs and also occasionally in flocks. It breeds between August and February in southern Australia, and breeding occurs earlier in northern Australia. The female may be polyandrous, with the male incubating the clutch of 3-4 eggs and rearing chicks (Marchant and Higgins 1993). Habitat This species occupies terrestrial shallow freshwater wetlands, and occasionally brackish wetlands, including lakes, swamps, saltmarsh and claypans. Ephemeral, recently flooded wetlands appear to be especially important (Thomas et al. 2010). It will also occupy modified habitats including sewage farms, dams, bores and irrigation schemes. It constructs nests among tall vegetation, frequently on small muddy islands, but also sometimes on the shore of wetlands (Marchant and Higgins 1993). Diet It feeds on vegetation, seeds, insects, worms, molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrates (Marchant and Higgins 1993).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Rostratula australis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rostratula australis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
C2a(ii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Taylor, J. & Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Garnett, S., Jaensch, R. & Jones, C.

Justification
This species is listed as Endangered as it has a single, very small population which has rapidly declined and is continuing to decline owing to the destruction of its wetland habitats.

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Population

Population
Based on results of surveys between 2001 and 2009 conducted by Birds Australia, it is thought that the population is highly unlikely to exceed 2,500 individuals and is more likely to be between 1,000 and 1,500 individuals (S. Garnett in litt. 2009), hence the population is placed in the band 1,000-2,499 individuals. This equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The primary reason for the decline of this species is the loss of its wetland habitats. The two major causes of this loss have been the drainage of wetlands and the diversion of water to agriculture and reservoirs. It is estimated that since European settlement, approximately 50% of wetlands in Australia have been converted for other uses, with losses being even greater in some regions of the country (C. Jones in litt. 2009). Substantial declines in the reporting rate of the species in the Murray-Darling Basin coincided with major changes in the management of water resources, including the diversion of large volumes of water to irrigated agriculture (Lane and Rogers 2000). The replacement of endemic wetland vegetation by invasive weeds may also render habitats less suitable or even totally unsuitable for the species (Rogers et al. 2005). Grazing and associated trampling of wetland vegetation by cattle may also be a threat to the snipe in certain regions, particularly where grazing tends to become concentrated around wetlands in the dry season (Rogers et al. 2005). Predation by feral animals has been suggested as a threat, though there is no evidence that it is a cause of recent declines (C. Jones in litt. 2009).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
In 2001 a project was initiated by the Threatened Bird Network and Australasian Wader Studies Group to improve knowledge of the species (Rogers et al. 2005). Recovery actions implemented as part of this study include the development of a database of records and an assessment of habitat preferences (Rogers et al. 2005, C. Jones in litt. 2009). Birds Australia has been conducting annual surveys of the species since 2001 (S. Garnett in litt. 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect and manage principal breeding and wintering sites and, as a precautionary measure, identify and protect any additional habitat used by the species in the last 10 years. Develop guidelines, in consultation with landholders, for the management of suitable wetlands. Initiate control programs for feral animals, and erect fencing to prevent grazing and trampling of wetlands by cattle, at suitable wetlands. Rehabilitate selected wetlands that were formerly used for breeding. Undertake further research to determine movements and improve knowledge of habitat preferences. Monitor the population at the landscape scale using, to begin with, the Atlas of Australian Birds, and determine the breeding range. Encourage participation of community groups and other relevant bodies in the recovery effort.

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Wikipedia

Australian Painted-snipe

The Australian painted-snipe (Rostratula australis) is a medium-sized, long-billed, distinctively patterned wader.

Taxonomy[edit]

The distinctiveness of the Australian painted-snipe was recognised by John Gould in 1838 when he described and named it Rostratula australis. However, it was subsequently lumped with the greater painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis. More recently it has been shown that the differences between these taxa warrant recognition at the species level. Compared with the greater painted-snipe, the Australian painted-snipe:

  • has a longer wing, shorter bill and shorter tarsus
  • has a chocolate brown, rather than rufous, head and neck in the female
  • has round, rather than flat and visually barred, spots on the tail (female) and upper wing-coverts (male)

Description[edit]

The head, neck and upper breast chocolate brown (in the male, dark grey with a buff median stripe on the crown), fading to rufous in the centre of the hindneck and merging to dark, barred grey on the back. There is a cream comma-shaped mark around the eye. A white stripe on the side of the breast and over the shoulders is diagnostic. The upperwing is grey (with buff spots in the male). The lower breast and underbody are white. Males are generally slightly smaller and less bright than females. Juveniles are similar to adult males. No call has been recorded.

The length ranges from 24 to 30 cm, the wingspan from 50 to 54 cm, the weight from 125 to 130 g.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Australian painted-snipe is endemic to Australia, though its distribution is patchy and its presence in any particular area is unpredictable. A previous stronghold was the Riverina. It frequents shallow, freshwater wetlands with a thick cover of low vegetation, disappearing when conditions become unsuitable.

Conservation[edit]

The species has declined drastically during the 20th century and is rare throughout its range. Causes of the decline are ascribed to wetland drainage, river management and salinisation, as well as grazing and trampling of wetlands by stock. Estimates of the total population range from a few hundred to a few thousand. In Australia it is classified as being nationally threatened with a rating of Vulnerable. The IUCN recently split the species and treats it as endangered.[1]

Behaviour[edit]

Diet[edit]

Wetland invertebrates such as worms, molluscs, insects and crustaceans; also seeds and other vegetation.

Breeding[edit]

Breeding painted-snipe prefer temporary but recently flooded wetlands, with low cover for shelter, shallow water and exposed mud for feeding, and small islands on which to nest. They nest in ground scrapes or on mounds in water, lined with grass, leaves and twigs, where they lay clutches of 3-4 cream-coloured eggs marked with black streaks. Incubation takes 15–16 days. The young are precocial and nidifugous.

Samsonvale Cemetery, Jan 1999


References[edit]

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