Species Profile and Threats Database

Listed Critical Habitat

The identification of critical habitat for the Register of Critical Habitat, including location and extent information, is a matter of ecological judgement, and is based on the most up-to-date scientific information available to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee and the Minister for the Environment at the time the habitat was being considered. As new or additional information becomes available, critical habitat identified on the Register may be amended.

Manorina melanotis (Black-eared Miner) - Gluepot Reserve, Taylorville Station and Calperum Station, excluding the area of Calperum Station south and east of Main Wentworth Road.

Listed Critical Habitat: Manorina melanotis (Black-eared Miner) - Gluepot Reserve, Taylorville Station and Calperum Station, excluding the area of Calperum Station south and east of Main Wentworth Road.
Date Effective: 05 May 2004
Location and extent:

Gluepot Reserve, Taylorville Station and Calperum Station in South Australia. Approximately 383,920 ha. Source: The boundaries of the properties were taken from Cadlite, the Digital Cadastral Database provided by MapData Sciences Pty Ltd, 1 July 2003. Copyright PSMA Australia Limited 2003. The following land parcel identifiers were used: Gluepot 54,448 ha; H835900/B1220. Taylorville 94,143 ha; H835900/S64, H835900/S69, H835900/S65, H760300/S17, H835900/S66, H835900/S61, H835900/S67, H835900/B1066, H760300/S63, H835900/S68, H760300/S62. Calperum 235,329 ha; H835900/B1002, H835900/B988, H835900/B1199, H836200/B1003 (Note: Critical Habitat on Calperum Station excludes those areas south and east of Main Wentworth Road).

These properties contain a mosaic of ecosystems and activities:

  • The properties comprise predominantly open mallee bushland, the majority of which has not been burnt for at least 40 years, and this is the preferred habitat of the Black-eared Miner. However, post-fire regenerating mallee of 5-10 years or older (also found within these properties) may provide occasional foraging habitat and is therefore also important for the species.
  • There are some disturbed areas within the boundaries of the listed area, including roads and fire breaks, which are important for the management of the mallee bushland, particularly to manage wildfires which are a key threat.
  • Other disturbed areas such as dams and associated clearings are also found within the properties. Some of these discrete areas are being regenerated and a program to decommission artificial water points or make them unavailable to herbivores is under way. As some of these areas will provide potential future habitat for the Black-eared Miner as they regenerate, as well as inhibit hybridisation by the Yellow-throated Miner, these areas are also considered important.
  • Other disturbed areas which are integral to the continued operation of the properties do not have direct relevance to the survival of the species. These areas include infrastructure for the ongoing operation of the properties, roads, tracks, powerlines, camp sites and other tourism facilities, buildings, ruins and Aboriginal sites.

The listed properties need to be managed in an integrated way to maintain the habitat values and manage threats to the Black-eared Miner.

Current and future actions within the listed properties should be undertaken in a way that will not significantly damage Critical Habitat for the Black-eared Miner.

Whether or not an action is likely to significantly damage critical habitat will depend on the nature and magnitude of potential impacts as well as the particular area of the mosaic in which the action will occur. In general, actions are more likely to lead to significant damage if they occur within the most important areas of open mallee bushland. Actions within disturbed areas of the properties of little or no direct relevance to the survival of the species would generally be unlikely to cause significant damage to critical habitat.

Reasons for listing:

Criterion (a). Whether the habitat is used during periods of stress. Examples of period of stress: Flood, drought or fire.


Criterion (b). Whether the habitat is used to meet essential life cycle requirements. Examples: Foraging, breeding, nesting, roosting, social behaviour patterns or seed dispersal processes.

Historically, the distribution of the Black-eared Miner was widespread and included the Murray Mallee of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. The Black-eared Miner's current distribution is much reduced, with over 95% of known colonies occurring in the Gluepot, Calperum and Taylorville sites. The species has retracted to this area primarily because of habitat loss and altered fire regimes across its former range.

The listed habitat is used for foraging, breeding, nesting and roosting (all essential life cycle requirements). Black-eared Miners occur predominately in mature mallee eucalypt woodland, in areas that have not been burnt for at least 40 years and have not been cleared, although post-fire regenerating mallee of 5 - 10 years or older may provide occasional foraging habitat (Starks 1987; McLaughlin 1990; Muir et al. 1999). Sites with the most genetically true colonies are more than 5 km from dams and man-made clearings (Clarke & Clarke 1999b, Muir et al. 1999). Black-eared Miners inhabit shallow sand mallee and chenopod mallee. The vegetation is dominated by multi-stemmed mallee eucalypts, including Eucalyptus dumosa, E. gracilis, E. oleosa and E. socialis, usually in association with a ground layer dominated by either spinifex Triodia scariosa, or shrubs of the families Chenopodiaceae and Zygophyllaceae (Starks 1987; McLaughlin 1992; Muir et al. 1999).

The Black-eared Miner eats mainly invertebrates and lerp (the sugary exudate produced by psyllids). Prey is obtained mainly from gleaning and probing decorticating bark, limbs and twigs of eucalypts and gleaning from foliage, although birds will also forage on the ground and hawk for flying insects (McLaughlin 1990). Nectar from Eucalyptus spp., Eremophila spp. and Grevillea huegelii is also taken. All of these plant species are found in the listed area.

Criterion (c). The extent to which the habitat is used by important populations. NB: An important population is one that is necessary for a species' long-term survival and recovery. This may include populations that are: key source populations either for breeding or dispersal, populations that are necessary for maintaining genetic diversity, and/or populations that are near the limit of the species range.

Over 95% of known colonies of the Black-eared Miner occur in the Gluepot, Calperum and Taylorville sites. This area is therefore the most important source population for breeding and dispersal as well as being a source of individuals for recovery actions such as translocation. The area supports the most genetically true populations and is therefore essential for maintaining the genetic integrity of the species.

Criterion (d). Whether the habitat is necessary to maintain genetic diversity and long-term evolutionary development.

This habitat is necessary to maintain genetic diversity and long-term evolutionary development. A major cause of decline is introgressive hybridisation by the conspecific Yellow-throated Miner (Schodde 1981; Starks 1987; McLaughlin 1990). Black-eared and Yellow-throated Miners were clearly separable on phenotypic characters before extensive clearing occurred after 1950 (Clarke et al. in press). McLaughlin (1992) demonstrated that habitat occupied by breeding Black-eared Miners is significantly structurally dissimilar from Yellow-throated Miner habitat, and that the two species are predominantly allopatric (ie. they occupy different habitats). Clearance and modification of vegetation in areas of the species former range has resulted in creation of habitat intermediate in structure between that favoured by the Yellow-throated Miner and habitat favoured by the Black-eared Miner. This has led to the rise of colonies of hybrid miners. The flow of genetic material between the two species is maintained by the presence of hybrid miner colonies (these colonies would not have been present prior to extensive land clearing). Uncontrolled genetic introgression will eventually result in the loss of the biological and genetic diversity contributed by the Black-eared Miner (Cade 1983). Clearing or fragmentation of habitat is highly undesirable and may result in genetic swamping by Yellow-throated Miners. Intact mallee inhibits this genetic introgression, and is therefore necessary to maintain the genetic integrity and diversity of the Black-eared Miner.

Criterion (e). Whether the habitat is necessary for use as corridors to allow the species to move freely between sites used to meet essential life cycle requirements.


Criterion (f). Whether the habitat is necessary to ensure the long-term future of the species or ecological community through reintroduction or re-colonisation.

Over 95% of known colonies occur within the Gluepot, Calperum and Taylorville sites. Successful translocation of the species to areas of suitable habitat in New South Wales and Victoria has occurred with birds sourced from the Calperum and Gluepot sites.

Criterion (g). Any other way in which habitat may be critical to the survival of a listed threatened species or a listed threatened ecological community.



Baker-Gabb, D.J. (2003). Recovery Plan for the Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis 2002-2006 (Revised February 2003): Conservation of old-growth dependant mallee fauna. [Online]. SA Dept Environment & Heritage, Adelaide. Available from:
Cade, T.J. (1983). Hybridisation and gene exchange among birds in relation to conservation. In: Schonewald-Cox, C.M., S.A. Chambers, B. MacBryde & T. Larry, eds. Genetics and Conservation: A reference for Managing Wild Animal and Plant Populations. Benjamin Cummings, London.
Clarke, R. & M. Clarke (1999b). Translocation Proposal for the Black-eared Miner. Unpubl. report to the Black-eared Miner Recovery Team.
Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2004). Map of Habitat Critical to the survival of the Black-eared Miner (Manorina melanotis). [Online]. Available from:
Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & W.K. Steele (Eds) (2001). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Five - Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
McLaughlin, J. (1990). Surveys and observations of the Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis in Victoria, 1989-1990. RAOU Report Series. 71.
Muir, A., D. Quin & S. Dominelli (1999). Habitat Requirements of Black-eared Miners in South Australia. Unpubl. report to the Black-eared Miner Recovery Team.
Schodde, R. (1981). Bird Communities of the Australian Mallee - Composition, derivation, structure and seasonal cycles. In: diCastri, F., D.W. Goodall & R.L. Specht, eds. Mediterranean-type Shrublands. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Starks, J. (1987). The status and distribution of the Black-eared Miner (Manorina melanotis) in Victoria. Arthur Rylah Institute of Environmental Research Technical Report. 49.