Carpentarian Grasswren Amytornis dorotheae has a limited range in the hilly parts of north-western Queensland and the eastern Northern Territory of Australia. It is currently classified as Near Threatened as its total population is moderately small, with the vast majority of individuals confined to a single subpopulation, and undergoing continuing (and moderately rapid) population declines owing to wildfires.
BirdLife Australia’s Threatened Species Committee have recently made the recommendation to its Research and Conservation Committee to uplist A. dorotheae to Vulnerable owing to recent declines driven by fires – see extract here:
Uplist the Carpentarian Grasswren Amytornis dorotheae from Near Threatened A2c, C2a(ii) to Vulnerable A2c. Systematic surveys throughout the species range in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 suggest a severe and ongoing decline in numbers and distribution. The main threat is fire; and quantitative fire scar data (MODIS-based) shows that over the last decade several large scale single fire events have impacted on the availability of suitable habitat (relatively long-unburnt Triodia). These events have further fragmented already disjunct populations. The northern-most population near Borroloola is now probably extinct. Of the three sub-populations currently extant, Buckley River IBA is by far the largest. In 2011–2012 it probably suffered a greater than 50% reduction due to loss of habitat to fire. Boodjamulla National Park was also severely burnt in that period and probably lost over 50% of its already reduced population. Given declines of >50% in the largest population in only a 2 year period, it is feasible that the overall population decline has been >50% over 3 generations (taken as 15 years based on the average generation time for eight Malurus taxa = 5.0 years). However, because the fire scar mapping is thought likely to have missed small refugia in which the grasswrens are likely to have persisted, a loss of 30-50% is thought more likely.
Unless additional information emerges which suggests that this proposal is invalid, since it is a national endemic we expect that A. dorotheae will also warrant uplisting to Vulnerable at the global scale.
Additional information and comments on this proposal are welcomed.
BirdLife Australia. 2015. BirdLife Australia Threatened Species Committee report to RACC. 23rd January 2015. Unpublished report.