South-west Australia

Country/Territory Australia
Area 280,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 400 m
Priority critical
Habitat loss major
Knowledge good

General characteristics

This EBA is in the western part of the state of Western Australia. It is largely low-lying, with eucalypt forest in the hillier and wetter south-west, and eucalypt woodland, including mallee (a particularly distinct, semi-arid woodland of multi-stemmed eucalypts), mallee-heath, heath and thickets elsewhere, where the climate is more Mediterranean.

Restricted-range species

Of the eight restricted-range species which occur in this EBA, three have particularly small ranges: Atrichornis clamosus, which was largely confined to the Mt Gardner area of the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve (47 km2) east of Albany, but is now spread over c.30 km of coastal and near coastal land (Danks and Calver 1993); Psophodes nigrogularis, which occurs in two isolated populations, with nominate nigrogularis in extreme coastal south-west Australia (perhaps only surviving at Two Peoples Bay) and the race oberon in eastern south-west Australia (Schodde and Mason 1991), but also occurring in South-east Australia (EBA 184); and Dasyornis longirostris, which is now restricted to four localities within the Fitzgerald River National Park and also to the area just east of Albany.

An additional six species are largely confined to this region but are widely dispersed and consequently judged to have breeding ranges of more than 50,000 km2, so have not been included as restricted-range species: Slender-billed Black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus latirostris, Western Rosella Platycercus icterotis, Red-capped Parrot Purpureicephalus spurius, Western Thornbill Acanthiza inornata, Western Spinetail Acanthorhynchus superciliosus and Little Wattlebird Anthochaera lunulata.

Species IUCN Red List category
Baudin's Black-cockatoo (Zanda baudinii) CR
Western Corella (Cacatua pastinator) LC
Noisy Scrub-bird (Atrichornis clamosus) EN
Red-winged Fairy-wren (Malurus elegans) LC
Western Bristlebird (Dasyornis longirostris) EN
Rufous Bristlebird (Dasyornis broadbenti) LC
Western Whipbird (Psophodes nigrogularis) LC
White-breasted Robin (Quoyornis georgianus) LC
Red-eared Firetail (Stagonopleura oculata) LC

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
Country IBA Name IBA Book Code
Australia Araluen-Wungong
Australia Calingiri
Australia Cataby
Australia Coomallo
Australia Fitzgerald River
Australia Gidgegannup
Australia Gillingarra
Australia Jalbarragup
Australia Karara and Lochada
Australia Koobabbie
Australia Lake Magenta
Australia Moora
Australia Mount Gibson and Charles Darwin
Australia Mundaring-Kalamunda
Australia North Dandalup
Australia Northern Swan Coastal Plain
Australia Recherche Archipelago
Australia Stirling Range
Australia The Lakes (Western Australia)
Australia Two Peoples Bay and Mount Manypeaks
Australia Walebing

Threat and conservation

Much of the extreme south-west is still forested, but large areas are extensively farmed, and forest has been cleared leaving only scattered patches, isolated trees, and road- or streamside strips. In total, an estimated 90% of habitat has been removed, and bird populations are thus often too small to be viable or may be too isolated to allow recolonization if the population is lost (Saunders and Ingram 1995).

Fire is a threat to native habitat. Historically, fires were started by Aborigines to encourage new grass, but they also occur naturally in the long dry season. Native plants are fire-adapted, but fragmented ecosystems may be at risk if burning regimes are altered or intensified. Thus, the western race litoralis of Dasyornis broadbenti is extinct due to destruction of its habitat by frequent burning earlier this century.

The three restricted-range species which have the smallest ranges are considered threatened (despite occurring in protected areas) because of the continuing threat of fire to surviving populations. It is as a result of habitat management (and therefore fire exclusion) and translocation that the range of Atrichornis clamosus has been increased, with a consequent improvement in its conservation status.

Other species and races of particular note include the western form of Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris, confined to two populations in Cape Arid and Fitzgerald River National Parks, the south-western form of Red-tailed Black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii naso, restricted to a sub-coastal strip between Perth and Albany (both treated as threatened by Garnett 1993), C. latirostris (Vulnerable; see 'Restricted-range species', above) and Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata, a widespread threatened bird (Vulnerable), which occurs in the mallee and eucalypt woodland in the eastern, more arid areas. Overall, it has been estimated that in the wheatbelt of Western Australia nearly 50% of all birds and 88% of resident passerines have declined in range or abundance since European settlement (Robinson and Traill 1996).

There are many protected areas in this EBA including the very important Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and the two largest, Fitzgerald River National Park (2,400 km2) and Stirling Range National Park (1,156 km2), which protect some of the threatened restricted-range species. However, it is recognized that for much of the wildlife of this EBA protected areas are not sufficient (or even possible, as most remnants of native habitat are on private land). Rather, land degradation needs to be dealt with at an ecological scale by other means. To this end, over 300 landcare groups have been formed to promote region-wide land conservation measures (see, e.g., Goss and Chatfield 1993). Two urgent priorities are the need to increase the size of woodlands and to re-establish vegetation links between them.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: South-west Australia. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/eba/factsheet/184 on 29/02/2024.