Assessment of Eastern Bristlebird habitat: Refining understanding of appropriate habitats for reintroductions


  • Jack Baker

  • Jack Baker was the Manager of the Biodiversity Conservation Science Section in the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. Now in retirement, he is continuing his research interests as Honorary Principal Fellow (Institute for Conservation Biology and Law, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia; Email:


Summary  The cryptic Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus) is an endangered endemic of south-eastern Australia. Its distribution is highly fragmented with only two populations exceeding 500 individuals. Consequently, recovery planning includes translocation to increase the number of viable populations. The Eastern Bristlebird is typically found in low, dense vegetation. The species occurs in 26 different plant communities throughout its range, which suggests that it might be considered a habitat generalist. However, two studies based on aural surveys have demonstrated that it was conspicuous at heath-wood ecotones. Radiotracking was used to overcome reliance on aural surveys and to investigate the habitat of 12 Eastern Bristlebirds at 50-m wide heath-wood ecotones in two sites at Jervis Bay. Although individual birds appeared either to prefer or avoid the heath, ecotone or wood, there was no consistent pattern of habitat selection and there was no attraction to, or avoidance of, the heath-wood edge at species level. The present study provides further evidence that although heath-wood ecotones may provide suitable habitat for some individual Eastern Bristlebirds, the species is neither dependent on, nor confined to, heath-wood ecotones. This knowledge was an important consideration in the selection of two host sites for recently conducted reintroductions of the species.