Deakin University

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Detection and habitat use of the rufous bristlebird (Dasyornis broadbenti) in coastal heathland, in south-western Victoria, Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2007-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ellen Mitchell, Barbara Wilson
The Rufous Bristlebird (Dasyornis broadbenti) is a sedentary, ground-dwelling passerine of southern Australia, which is listed as nationally vulnerable, and as near-threatened (lower risk) in Victoria. The species inhabits a variety of vegetation, including shrub thickets in coastal gullies to heathlands on limestone cliffs. This study aimed to assess the size, distribution and habitat use of a population of the subspecies D. b.  broadbenti at Portland in south-western Victoria. Monthly surveys (2002–03) were conducted on foot for 1 h after official sunrise and 1 h before official sunset, and presence of Bristlebirds recorded using vocalisations and sightings. Observations outside of the survey times were also recorded to estimate the size of territories and core area of occupancy. To quantify habitat preferences, vegetation composition and structure were measured in areas where Bristlebirds were present, as well as surrounding areas where they were not detected. The population in the survey areas was estimated at between 70 and 86 individuals in the 170-ha survey area. The estimated size of territories of eight selected pairs of Bristlebirds ranged from 0.5 to 3 ha, with core areas of occupancy ranging from 0.2 to 0.6 ha. During the nesting season (August November) Bristlebirds were detected at greater frequencies in the core area of occupancy within each territory. Significant associations were found between the presence of Bristlebirds and floristic associations dominated by the native environmental weeds Acacia sophorae and Leptospermum laevigatum. Bristlebird presence was significantly positively correlated with increasing vegetation density in the mid-canopy level (80–120 cm) indicating that vegetation structure is a key factor in habitat use.



Emu: Austral Ornithology






327 - 334


Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union


Melbourne, Vic.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2007, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union