Bioclimatic Analysis to Enhance Reintroduction Biology of the Endangered Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) in Southeastern Australia

Authors

  • Jennie Pearce,

    1. School of Forestry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia,
    2. Address correspondence to J. Pearce, 35 Moona St., East Burwood, Victoria 3151, Australia
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  • David Lindenmayer

    1. Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia,
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Abstract

Reintroduction programs are a high-risk conservation strategy for restoring populations of endangered species. The success of these programs often depends on the ability to identify suitable habitat within the species’ former range. Bioclimatic analysis offers an empirical, explicit, robust, and repeatable method to analyze large areas rapidly using a small number of locality records, and in turn predicting (and/or reconstructing) its potential distribution limits. This approach therefore can estimate the broad limits of the distribution of a taxon, using data that may be inadequate for standard forms of statistical analysis. We illustrate the potential value of bioclimatic modeling for reintroduction biology using a case study of the highly endangered Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) from Victoria, southeastern Australia. The results of our analyses assisted us to both predict the former range limits of the Helmeted Honeyeater and determine the broad limits of those areas that may contain potentially suitable sites for future reintroduction programs for the subspecies. The analysis predicted that the range of the Helmeted Honeyeater extends from the Yarra River district east of Melbourne, south to the Western Port Bay and east as far as the Morwell area of Victoria. The climatic characteristics of habitat occupied by the extant population of the Helmeted Honeyeater were found to be unique within its predicted range. We recommend that reintroduction efforts therefore be concentrated within this small area, as has occurred to date.

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