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Publications archive - Publications


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

National Recovery Plan for Malleefowl

Joe Benshemesh
Environment Australia, October 2000
ISBN 0759010072

Note: This publication has been superseded by the National recovery plan for Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) - 2007


Current taxon status

Nationally, the Malleefowl is listed as vulnerable (Garnett 1992, ANZECC 1995, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). The species is regarded as 'endangered' in NSW, 'threatened' (endangered) in Victoria (schedule 2 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988), 'fauna that is rare or likely to become extinct in WA', 'vulnerable' in SA, and may no longer occur in the Northern Territory.

Habitat requirements and limiting factors

The Malleefowl is found in semi-arid to arid shrublands and low woodlands, especially those dominated by mallee and/or acacias. A sandy substrate and abundance of leaf litter are required for breeding. Densities of the birds are generally greatest in areas of higher rainfall and on more fertile soils where habitats tend to be thicker and there is an abundance of food plants. Much of the best habitat for Malleefowl has already been cleared or has been modified by grazing by sheep, cattle, rabbits and goats. The species has been shown to be highly sensitive to grazing by sheep, and is probably similarly sensitive to grazing by other introduced herbivores. The effect of fire on Malleefowl is severe and breeding in burnt areas is usually reduced for at least 30 years. However, the deleterious effect of fire appears to be mitigated if fires burn patchily. Predation by the introduced fox is also thought to be limiting the abundance of Malleefowl and in many areas may be a major cause of decline. The degree of fragmentation of the remaining Malleefowl habitat is of particular concern and presents a major limiting factor to halting and reversing the decline of the species.

Recovery Plan Objectives

Recovery Criteria

Actions needed


  1. Secure habitat
  2. Reduce the deleterious effects of introduced herbivores
  3. Reduce fire threats
  4. Reduce predation
  5. Reduce the isolation of fragmented populations
  6. Encourage Malleefowl-friendly agricultural practices
  7. Reduce road deaths of Malleefowl


  1. Prepare regional plans
  2. Describe the current distribution of the species
  3. Monitor the abundance of the species
  4. Investigate the population dynamics
  5. Describe the habitat requirements of Malleefowl
  6. Describe the genetic variation of Malleefowl
  7. Investigate infertility
  8. Develop remote sensing methods


  1. Promote community involvement
  2. Encourage education and publicity
  3. Manage the recovery process

Biodiversity benefits

Malleefowl share their habitat with several threatened species, including the Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis, Red- lored Whistler Pachycephala rufogularis, Mallee Emu-wren Stripiturus mallee, Striated Grasswren Amytornis striatus striatus, and Western Whipbird Psophodes nigrogularis oberon and P. n. leucogaster. These and other threatened species would also benefit from management actions that secure habitat; reduce grazing pressure, fox abundance, and the extent of fires; and increase the connectivity of habitat fragments. Some of these species might also benefit from the increased community participation, and the infrastructure used to monitor Malleefowl may also be useful to monitor the abundance of other species.

Cost estimates

It should be noted that cost estimates in this report do not include GST and should generally be increased by 10% to compensate.