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scarlet_robin_sm.jpg The USING BIRD MONITORING TO GUIDE ECOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT ACROSS MULTIPLE SPATIAL SCALES forum held on July 31st was an outstanding success, with over 150 attendees. Speakers included: Professor Hugh Possingham, and Postdoctoral Fellow Judit Szabo from University of Queensland; Dr Mark Lethbridge from Flinders University; Dr David Paton, AM, University of Adelaide; and Dr Nigel Willoughby, Habitat Management & Restoration Ecologist, Murraylands (DEH). Presentations were filmed and will be available for those that were not able to attend through the NCSSA website soon.



The NCSSA/UQ MLR Woodland Bird Monitoring Program Surveys run from September to December annually, dependent upon funding. The Nature Conservation Society of SA, Inc. manages and coordinates the survey as well as secures funding for the project. Innovation in research and synthesis, data analyses and scientific publications are carried out under the supervision of Professor Hugh Possingham at the University of Queensland ( and

Special thanks to past and present funding and participating organisations: Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, Australian Research Council, Birds for Biodiversity ~ Conservation Council of SA, Department of Environment and Heritage (SA), University of Adelaide, and the University of Queensland. We’re also very grateful to our volunteers, surveyors, and those property owners that allow us to access these sites year after year… Continuity is of the essence for long-term monitoring programs such as this, so their ongoing participation is greatly appreciated. 

  • Key achievements and outcomes to date include:
    • While occasional "snapshot" surveys may be sufficient to keep track of the more secure, stable populations, those that fluctuate widely must be monitored annually. This study represents one of few long-term regional scale studies of a group of species in Australia that achieves this goal.
    • Each 2 ha site is surveyed during three 20-minute visits between September and December. This repetition is necessary to estimate the observation error rates, which is crucial to determining statistically whether birds are declining.
    • Avid birders are hired surveyors, which increases species identification reliability. Their contribution is greatly appreciated. They have completed over 450 surveys at over 150 sites each year the survey has been run. Without this large number of sites the data is statistically pseudo-replicated and not useful for determining the causes or correlative factors that are causing changes.
    • The database has over 8 years of survey data. Ultimately this will yield a compelling, statistically robust set of population trajectories for a majority of species in the region. It has been redesigned to facilitate ease of administration and error-free data entry by volunteer Brian Knill. Max Possingham has provided countless volunteer hours organising, checking and archiving the database.
    • Liaisons with property owners, including local councils, DEH, SA Water, ForestrySA, Friends of Parks groups and private landholders, have included letters to seek permission for site access updates and providing bird lists for properties that request them.
    • Dissemination of project outcomes has included: Xanthopus articles; BirdsSA updates including presentations and SAOA newsletter articles; as well as published scientific articles in international scientific journals such as Landscape Ecology, Journal of Wildlife Management, Austral Ecology, Conservation Biology, Ecology Letters & Ecological Applications.
    • If you are interested in determining the success of management planned for areas over 2ha and want to add to the monitoring program – tell us.