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Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 192520593

Uncovering the movements and habitat use of the genetically unique and critically endangered Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 192520593) - Plains-wanderer - Awarded $10,000 on July 15, 2019


The critically endangered Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) is a small, ground-dwelling bird that is highly cryptic within its grassland habitat. It behaves in such a manner that almost all observations of this species occur at night, under spotlights, when individuals are roosting and unable to run and avoid detection. Although spotlighting has been the principal survey technique for this species over the past 30 years, this technique is extremely labor intensive and thought to be unreliable in some vegetation types. Encounters with the Plains-wanderer during the day are typically by accident and no information has been documented in regards to how this species forages, interacts with other con-specifics, or utilises parts of its habitat. These significant knowledge gaps present challenges to conservationists and land managers trying to save this species from extinction. This study aims to save the world’s most conservation important bird, the Plains-wanderer, by first enhancing detection rates through new technologies, and second, gaining insight into their behaviour through the use of miniature GPS trackers.

Specifically, this study aims to: (i) Develop a reliable and efficient detection technique using thermal scanners and thermal drones (ii) Gain insights into foraging and breeding behaviour (iii) Describe fine-scale and dispersal movements.

Project 192520593 location - Australia, Oceania