Mallee Emu Wren

 
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The Mallee Emu-wren is endemic to the southern Murray Mallee region of south-eastern Australia. Once found in South Australia, large scale fires in 2014 cleared the entire population in South Australia, leaving their only remaining population in Victoria. The tiny endangered bird, only growing up to a mere 15cm long is one of Australia’s smallest birds. Ideal habitat for the Mallee Emu Wren consists of hummock grass vegetation that has remained unburnt for 16-29 years, or heathy vegetation that has remained unburnt for 10-29 years.

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Past habitat loss and fragmentation of mallee due to large-scale clearing for agriculture has reduced the amount of available habitatfor the Mallee Emu Wren. Both planned (i.e. fire risk management) and unplanned fires may result in large scale fires which pose a significant threat to this bird. Most Mallee birds have no special adaptations to cope with fire, they either perish or flee to unburnt areas. Wildfires that burn a high proportion of a reserve have immediate impact on bird species. Extensive land clearance has left remnant areas of mallee highly fragmented, and its birds extremely susceptible to fire due to their restricted ranges and inability to recolonize isolated patches. Post-fire recovery is impeded by drought conditions.

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Our goal is to establish and maintain at least four separate reserve populations of at least 250 birds.

The key to reducing fire risk is to prevent extensive wildfires, by implementing fire management that focuses on requirements of species rather than species richness.

 

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Photo credit: Dean Ingwersen, Chris Tzaros