Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable as Gallirallus sylvestris
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan] as Gallirallus sylvestris.
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Tricholimnas sylvestris.
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Gallirallus sylvestris.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Lord Howe Island Woodhen - general factsheet (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2002f) [Internet].
NSW:Lord Howe Woodhen - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005es) [Internet].
NSW:Lord Howe Island Woodhen Threatened Species Information (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 1999bc) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Gallirallus sylvestris
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Gallirallus sylvestris [59572]
Family Rallidae:Gruiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Sclater,1869)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Other names Tricholimnas sylvestris [25893]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Gallirallus sylvestris

Common name: Lord Howe Woodhen

Other common names: Lord Howe Island Woodhen, Woodhen, Lord Howe Rail, Rufous-winged Moorhen

The Lord Howe Woodhen is a large (male 34–42 cm; female 32–37) flightless rail. It has an olive-brown body and bright chestnut wings with narrow dark brown bars on the primaries and primary coverts. It has a long downward-curved bill that is brown at the tip and pink at the base. It has light pinkish-brown legs. Males and females are similar in appearance. Adults have red irides and juveniles have dark irides. The species is highly territorial and occurs in pairs (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The Lord Howe Woodhen is endemic to Lord Howe Island (Sibley & Monroe 1990). Its distribution consists of localised populations in settled areas on the northern and central lowlands as well as occurrences at Far Flats, Grey Face, Boat Harbour, Mount Lidgbird, Erskine Valley, Little Slope and Mount Gower (NSW NPWS 2002; D. Priddel 2007, pers. comm.).

Extent of occurrence

The extent of occurrence of the Lord Howe Woodhen is estimated at approximately 3 km² (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Since the discovery of this species in 1788, the extent of occurrence has declined and, at least partially, recovered.

Early visitors described the woodhen as plentiful and distributed throughout the island (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991; Lourie-Fraser 1985) and especially common on the lowlands (Hindwood 1940). This species began to decline following settlement (1834) (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hutton 1991) and further observations in decline include:

  • in 1853, it was restricted to mountainous regions at the southern end of the island (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hutton 1991)
  • in 1908, it was very scarce in settled areas (Hull 1909)
  • in the late 1920s, observations occurred on Mutton Bird Point (Sharland 1929)
  • by 1940, it had disappeared from Erskine Valley, Little Slope and the lower slopes of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower
  • by 1940, it was confined to the upper regions of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower and three isolated sites on the south-eastern flank of Mount Gower (Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991; NSW NPWS 2002)
  • by the 1970s, it was only located in very small numbers on the summits of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hutton 1991; Miller & Mullette 1985)
  • solitary individuals were observed at Erskine Valley in 1957 and at Transit Hill in 1972 (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hutton 1991; Miller & Mullette 1985).

In 1980, a captive breeding program was initiated, by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Services, to aid the recovery of the Lord Howe Woodhen population (Fullagar 1985). The program, which ran from 1980–83, released birds (including individuals taken from the wild to found the captive population) at Boat Harbour, Goat House Cave, Salmon Beach, Erskine Valley and Little Slope (Fullagar 1985). The release of birds; their subsequent dispersal and breeding; and the eradication of feral Pigs (Sus scrofa) has led to this species' extent of occurrence recovering (Miller & Mullette 1985; NSW NPWS 2002). Since the release program, no further extent of occurrence increases have been recorded and may suggest that, at least in the lowlands, this species has reached its carrying capacity (Harden & Robertshaw 1988; NSW NPWS 2002).

Area of occupancy

The area of occupancy of the Lord Howe Woodhen is estimated at 2 km² (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Occupancy is likely to be less than at the time of the species' discovery, also, recovery from record lows is likely to have occurred. The area of occupancy has remained fairly stable since the re-introduction program in the 1980s, suggesting the population might have reached its carrying capacity.

Captive breeding program details

A captive breeding program was conducted in 1981–84. The program released 85 birds, including eight individuals taken from the wild to found the captive population (Fullagar 1985; Miller & Mullette 1985). In 2007, no individuals were held in captivity.

Since 1971, the Lord Howe Woodhen has been surveyed intensively as part of the recovery effort (Disney & Fullagar 1975; Harden 1998; Miller & Mullette 1985; NSW NPWS 2002). Its distribution and population size are, thus, very well known.

Based on the results of a census conducted in April 2002, the total population size of the Lord Howe Woodhen is estimated at 147–157 individuals (NSW NPWS 2002). This species is considered to occur as a single, contiguous breeding population (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The total population size of the Lord Howe Woodhen has declined, and at least partially recovered, since the species was discovered in 1788. Population observations include:

  • in the 1700s and early 1800s, plentiful throughout the island (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991; Lourie-Fraser 1985) and especially common in the lowlands (Hindwood 1940)
  • population decline following settlement (1834) and soon largely confined to the mountainous region at the southern end of the island (1853) (Fullagar & Disney 1975)
  • in 1914, 'fairly plentiful' in the southern mountainous regions (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hull 1909; Miller & Kingston 1980)
  • in the 1970s, population quantified as 26 breeding birds (Fullagar & Disney 1975)
  • in 1978–1980, population quantified as ten breeding birds (Miller & Mullette 1980).

In 1980, a captive breeding program commenced, and from 1981–84, a total of 85 birds were released into the wild (Fullagar 1985; Miller & Mullette 1985). This program led to the increase in population with:

  • in November 1988, a total of 200–210 individuals and 58–60 breeding pairs (Harden 1986, 1987, 1990; Harden & Robertshaw 1988, 1989), which was suspected of being this species carrying capacity
  • in 1997, a total of 220–230 individuals and 71–74 breeding pairs (NSW NPWS 2002)
  • in November 1999, an estimated 195–205 individuals (NSW NPWS 2002)
  • in April 2001, a total of 137–147 individuals (NSW NPWS 2002)
  • in November 2001, an estimated 169–179 individuals (NSW NPWS 2002)
  • in April 2002, an estimated 147–157 (NSW NPWS 2002).

The Lord Howe Woodhen has not been recorded to cross-breed with any other species on Lord Howe Island.

The entire population of the Lord Howe Woodhen occurs on Lord Howe Island, an inscribed World Heritage Area. A substantial proportion of the population occurs within the Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve, which has a similar status to a national park but is managed by the Lord Howe Island Board (NSW NPWS 2002).

Lord Howe Woodhens occupy the subtropical forests of the oceanic Lord Howe Island (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Woodhens occur in closed forest on boulder covered slopes, steep scree, valleys, plateaus and near cliffs (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993). This species is rarely found in rainforest, the most widespread habitat on the island, but prefers palm dominated lowland closed forest on igneous soils, possibly because this vegetation type has more available food (Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993). They also occur in forest bordering pasture and gardens, paddocks and small reedy swamps (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Mountain habitat

At high altitudes, Lord Howe Woodhens occur in gnarled mossy-forest which is unique to the mountain summits. The forest is dominated by Hot Bark (Zygogynum howeanum), Fitzgerald (Dracophyllum fitzgeraldii), Pumkin Tree (Negria rhabdothamnoides), palms and Wild May (Leptospermum polygalifolium), with an understorey of tree ferns (Cyathea) (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Lowland habitat

At lower altitudes, woodhens are largely confined to megaphyllous broad sclerophyll forest, especially stands of Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana) that grow on igneous soils, but also Banyan (Ficus macrophylla subsp. columnaris), Yellow Tulipwood (Drypetes australasica) and Three-veined Laurel (Cryptocarya triplinervis) (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Nesting, feeding and roosting habitat

Lord Howe Woodhens have been known to nest on the ground in thick vegetation, under tree roots and fallen logs, and even in a 10–65 cm deep petrel (Pterodroma) burrow (Hindwood 1940; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Woodhens feed on the forest floor among soil, leaf litter, palm fronds, rotting logs, moss and lichens (Fullagar 1985; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993). Of 1472 identified feeding sites 52.2% were in soil dominated sites, 30.7% in leaf litter, 4.5% in rotting logs, 5.8% in patches of moss, 3.1% on tree trunks, 1.1% in fern glades and 2.6% in 'other' areas (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Roost sites are difficult to find because they are often in dense vegetation (Marchant & Higgins 1993). These include petrel burrows, thick clumps of ferns, small caves or open tracks (where birds may huddle). When with young, adult birds may use brood-nests at night or during inclement weather (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Lord Howe Woodhen age of sexual maturity is unknown, but it is likely that birds begin to breed at the end of their first year. The life expectancy is also unknown, although one male on Mount Gower survived to at least 13 years of age (Fullagar 1985). The generation length of the Lord Howe Woodhen is estimated, with medium reliability, to be three years (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Egg laying on Mount Gower occurs August–January (Marchant & Higgins 1993) and laying can occur as soon as 30 days after an initial clutch (Fullagar 1985). In captivity, the clutch size is between one to four eggs (Hindwood 1940; Marchant & Higgins 1993). A captive-bred female mated with a wild male in the Settlement area and laid 11 clutches in 18 months. In 18 months, this pair produced 29 eggs and reared 16 chicks to independence (Fullagar 1985; Marchant & Higgins 1993). In the captive breeding program, when clutches that had been incubated for 14 days were removed from breeding birds, the females usually re-laid within 8–12 days (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The incubation period is 20–23 days (Marchant & Higgins 1993). In captivity, young birds are fully developed at about 150 days, start to leave the parents at about three months, and generally disperse at 4.5 months (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Breeding success is usually greater in the warmer lowlands, for example, around Settlement, where pairs (often) receive extra food from islanders, than on Mount Gower, which represents marginal habitat (Disney & Fullagar 1984; Fullagar 1985; Marchant & Higgins 1993). On Mount Gower, the nine territorial pairs usually managed to fledge only five young (with a range of 0–10) (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Pairs receiving extra food in lowland areas have higher reproductive output than pairs on Mount Gower, suggesting that food availability and climate appear to influence breeding patterns and reproductive success (Fullagar 1985; Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Lord Howe Woodhens mainly eat worms, insect larvae, gastropods and crustaceans (Fullagar 1985; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991; Marchant & Higgins 1993). On Mount Gower, 203 feedings were observed, and faecal samples examined (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Plant material comprised a small proportion of the diet, and included: lichen (0.5%); fungi (1.0%); fern fronds (Blechnaceae) (1.5%); and Randia stipulosa (Rubiaceae) flowers (4.5%). Invertebrate material included: earthworms (Annelida, Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) (80.7%); land snails (Mollusca, gastropoda) (0.5%); Amphipods and Isopods (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Isopoda) (2.0%); spiders (Arachnida, Araneae) (0.5%); millipedes (Myriopoda) (1.0%, but generally avoided); and beetle larvae (Insecta, Coleopotera) (7.9%). Other foods reported to be eaten include plant fruits, birds eggs (e.g. often the eggs of Providence Petrels (Pterodroma solandri), particularly those dumped on the ground by unsuccessful breeders), bird chicks and human-generated foods (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The Lord Howe Woodhen is a sedentary and flightless bird. It has not been recorded from any of the scattered islets surrounding Lord Howe Island. The movements of woodhens on the island before settlement are unknown. After settlement, birds became confined to the southern mountains, but birds or pairs were occasionally seen at lower altitudes in settled areas. On Mount Gower, juveniles disperse between June–July. Before Pigs were removed from the island, juveniles dispersing downslope from Mount Gower appeared to inhabit marginal territories and usually disappeared before the next breeding season unless a vacancy became available within established territory (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Pairs of woodhens occupy territories of approximately 2–3 ha, depending upon food availability (Fullagar 1985; Hutton 1991). The young birds are driven out of the natal territory by their parents, and only become established and active in the population if they can find a new territory or take over an existing one (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hutton 1991).

Distinctiveness

The Lord Howe Woodhen is a distinctive bird that is unlikely to be mistaken for any other species that occurs on Lord Howe Island (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Detectability

The Lord Howe Woodhen is a very tame and confiding bird that can be readily observed in its natural habitat. It responds to the playback of recorded calls and may be attracted to observers by unfamiliar sounds such as talking, whistling or the knocking together of two stones (Etheridge 1889; Fullagar 1985; Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909; Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Recommended methods

The recommended method to survey for the Lord Howe Woodhen is to conduct area searches in suitable habitat. Birds can be detected by sight or call. Broadcast of calls or unfamiliar sounds can be used to solicit response calls. In 2007, the woodhen population was monitored twice per year by this method, and all birds encountered are captured and banded (Garnett & Crowley 2000; NSW NPWS 2002; D. Priddel 2007, pers. comm.). Surveys completed as part of the monitoring process are undertaken by a team of eight observers and are conducted over a period of approximately 10 working days (D. Priddel 2007, pers. comm.).

Predation

Predation by humans and a variety of introduced animals is thought to have been a factor in the decline of the Lord Howe Woodhen (Etheridge 1889; Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909; NSW NPWS 2002).

Humans

Hunting by humans was probably the primary cause of the initial decline of the woodhen in the settled lowland areas of the island (NSW NPWS 2002). The tame and unsuspecting nature of the woodhen made it an easy target for human hunters (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hull 1909). It was reported to be the principal food of the early settlers (Hutton 1991) and 82 of the birds were collected on a scientific expedition in 1913–1914 (Fullagar & Disney 1975). Hunting by humans is no longer a threat to the woodhen.

Pigs

Predation by feral Pigs (Sus scrofa), probably in combination with associated adverse effects of Pigs on habitat quality, was probably responsible for the decline of the woodhen in the southern mountainous region and in settled areas (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Hull 1909; NSW NPWS 2002). Feral Pigs have now been eradicated from Lord Howe Island (NSW NPWS 2002).

Dogs

Predation by domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) is reported to have contributed to the decline of the woodhen in the settled area of Lord Howe Island (Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909). Predation by uncontrolled domestic Dogs is likely to be minimal today because of more stringent regulations and strong community support for the recovery effort (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Cats

Predation by feral Cats (Felis catus) was probably partly responsible for the initial decline of the woodhen in the settled lowland areas (Etheridge 1889; Hull 1909; Hutton 1991; NSW NPWS 2002), but feral Cats were uncommon in the southern mountains (Miller & Mullette 1985; NSW NPWS 2002). Feral Cats have now been eradicated from Lord Howe Island and the importation of domestic Cats has been banned (NSW NPWS 2002).

Rats

The Black Rat (Rattus rattus) is a known predator of woodhen eggs and young (Marchant & Higgins 1993), but its role in the decline of the woodhen is unclear. The Black Rat is found across Lord Howe Island and is present in high densities on the summit of Mount Gower. However, the persistence of the woodhen on the summit of Mount Gower suggests that predation by the Black Rat is having a negligible impact on the woodhen population (Fullagar & Disney 1975; Miller & Mullette 1985).

Masked Owl

The only known predator considered to be a significant threat to the woodhen at the present time is the Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) (Garnett & Crowley 2000; NSW NPWS 2002). The Masked Owl was introduced to Lord Howe Island in the 1920s in a failed attempt to control the Black Rat (Hutton 1991). In 1989 the Masked Owl has since been implicated in the decline of woodhen numbers at Little Slope (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Harden 1990a; NSW NPWS 2002) and identified as a possible barrier to population growth in some parts of the islands (NSW NPWS 2002).

Loss and degradation of habitat

Habitat of the woodhen has been degraded by feral Pigs and Goats (Capra hircus). Degradation includes reducing vegetation density, inhibiting natural regeneration of native forest, reducing soil invertebrate diversity and resultant soil erosion. Destructive behaviour includes grazing, digging and uprooting plants (Miller & Mullette 1985; NSW NPWS 2002). Feral Pigs have now been eradicated from Lord Howe Island and feral Goats are near eradication (NSW NPWS 2002).

Weeds on Lord Howe Island may pose a threat to woodhen habitat quality (NSW NPWS 2002).

Some habitat has been lost through the clearance and disturbance of the island's forests for residential and other purposes (NSW NPWS 2002). However, this probably caused the loss of only a small number of birds. Further significant clearing of habitat is unlikely because approximately 75% of the land area of the Lord Howe Island group is located within the Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve. Any changes to the remaining habitat on leasehold land is subject to approval under the Regional Environmental Plan (NSW NPWS 2002).

Accidental and incidental mortality

Woodhens are sometimes killed by collisions with motor vehicles or after ingesting poisoned rat bait. A proposal to implement a large scale baiting program to eradicate the Black Rat is currently being planned by the Lord Howe Island Board. The program is to be implemented in a manner that minimises the potential for non-target poisoning of woodhens. This will likely involve the capture and temporary detention of most of the population in captivity during the period over which baits remain viable (D. Priddel 2007, pers. comm.).

Competition for food with other species

In the settled area of the island, the Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) and Song Thrush (T. philomelos), which colonised the island in the 1950s, in combination with apparently increasing numbers of the endemic Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis) and Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), may be competing with the Lord Howe Woodhen for food (Fullagar & Disney 1975; NSW NPWS 2002). Feral Pigs might also have competed with the woodhen for food before they were eradicated from the island (Miller & Mullette 1985; NSW NPWS 2002).

Decline in supplementary feeding

The cessation of supplementary feeding of woodhens by island residents at some settled areas may have contributed to the low number of woodhens recorded in April 2001. Numbers in the settlement have increased since then, but a future decline in supplementary feeding could have an adverse impact on the woodhen population (NSW NPWS 2002).

Limited size and restricted distribution of the population

The Lord Howe Woodhen is confined to one island location and is vulnerable to disease outbreak or a catastrophic event such as a natural disaster (NSW NPWS 2002). Disease had been suggested as a possible factor in the decline of the woodhen by one island resident (Miller & Mullette 1985). However, studies have found no evidence of disease in the Lord Howe Woodhen (Harden & Robertshaw 1988; Miller & Mullette 1985).

The following recovery actions have been implemented to the benefit of the Lord Howe Woodhen:

  • The Lord Howe Island group was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1982 (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • Approximately 75% of the land area of the Lord Howe Island group is included within the Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • A Regional Environmental Management Plan (DEC 2006a) and a Biodiversity Management Plan (DECC 2007) have been developed to guide the management of land and wildlife on Lord Howe Island (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • Studies have been conducted on the biology and ecology of the woodhen, the factors involved in its decline and the effectiveness of the captive breeding and release program (Fullagar 1985; Harden & Robertshaw 1988; Miller & Mullette 1985).
  • Surveys of the woodhen population were conducted twice yearly in 1986–1997 and annually in 1998–99. Surveys have been conducted twice yearly since 2000 (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • A captive breeding and release program was conducted in 1980–83 (Fullagar 1985).
  • A database has been constructed for population monitoring data (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • Feral Pigs, Cats and Goats have been eradicated from Lord Howe Island. Predation by the Black Rat on Lord Howe Island is listed as Key Threatening Process under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. In 2007, a program to eradicate rodents from Lord Howe Island was being planned (D. Priddel 2007, pers. comm.).
  • A strategy is being developed for the control of noxious weeds on Lord Howe Island. Inspections for noxious weeds are carried out on leasehold land by staff of the Lord Howe Island Board. Control measures are planned and implemented with the leaseholder where possible (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • Visitors to Mount Gower must be accompanied by a guide (NSW NPWS 2002).
  • The recovery effort has been well supported by the Lord Howe Island community, members of which have assisted with research and monitoring, maintenance of habitat and supplementary feeding (NSW NPWS 2002).

The following actions have been recommended in the current recovery plan (NSW NPWS 2002):

  • Enforce strict procedures for the management of the Permanent Park Preserve and to minimise the impacts of infrastructure and tourism on the Lord Howe Woodhen.
  • Ensure the revised Regional Environmental Plan for Lord Howe Island provides adequate protection of the woodhen and ensure that protocols to protect woodhen habitat on public land and other non-conservation focused tenures continue to be enforced.
  • Enforce existing controls for domestic Dogs and, if necessary, review the existing controls to ensure protection of the woodhen.
  • Liaise with the Rodent Eradication Taskforce about potential impacts and mitigation measures relating to the woodhen.
  • Determine the impacts of the introduced Masked Owl on the woodhen population and develop a management response if necessary.
  • Ensure that control programs for weeds on Lord Howe Island protect woodhen habitat.
  • Ensure the development of a quarantine plan that contains measures to prevent the introduction of plants, animals and avian diseases that could impact on the woodhen.
  • Assess the potential impact of food competition from the Buff-banded Rail, Purple Swamphen, Common Blackbird and Song Thrush and, if necessary, develop and implement a strategy for control.
  • Continue the monitoring program and maintain the Lord Howe Island Woodhen database.
  • Analyse habitat availability and monitoring data to determine the carrying capacity of Lord Howe Island for the woodhen and the critical population threshold at which a captive-breeding program should be implemented.
  • Establish a recovery team to co-ordinate the recovery effort.
  • Prepare a community information brochure about the woodhen and the recovery effort.
  • Develop and implement guidelines to protect, manage and enhance woodhen habitat on leasehold land. Conduct a study to determine the most appropriate supplementary foods and assess the effectiveness of a community based supplementary feeding program for the woodhen on leasehold land.
  • Establish and manage captive populations in institutions not located on Lord Howe Island.
  • Develop a plan to establish and resource a captive breeding facility on Lord Howe Island for activation in the event of a reduction in woodhen numbers to below a critical threshold or if the eradication program for rodents is approved.

There have been three major studies on the Lord Howe Woodhen (Fullagar 1985; Harden & Robertshaw 1988; Miller & Mullette 1985). The species has been surveyed intensively for more than 20 years (Harden 1998; NSW NPWS 2002).

The key management documents for the Lord Howe Woodhen are the national Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (NSW NPWS 2002) and the Biodiversity Management Plan for Lord Howe Island (DECC 2007). A brief recovery outline for the species is featured in The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Canis lupus familiaris (Domestic Dog) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation by birds Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Turdus merula (Common Blackbird, Eurasian Blackbird) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Turdus philomelos (Song Thrush) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:pest animal control Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Porphyrio porphyrio (Purple Swamphen) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Tyto novaehollandiae (Masked Owl) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Gallirallus philippensis (Buff-banded Rail) Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Habitat modification (clearance and degradation) due to urban development Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) - 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002p) [Recovery Plan].

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Fullagar, P.J. (1985). The Woodhens of Lord Howe Island. Avicultural Magazine. 91:15--30.

Fullagar, P.J. & H.J. de S. Disney (1975). The birds of Lord Howe Island: a report on the rare and endangered species. Bulletin of the International Council for Bird Preservation. 12:187--202.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Harden, R. (1986). Lord Howe Island Woodhen Census 1985, Unpublished report. Scientific Services Section, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Harden, R. (1987). Lord Howe Island Woodhen Census 1986, Unpublished report. Scientific Services Section, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Harden, R. (1990). The Decline in Woodhen Numbers on Little Slope, Unpublished report. Environmental Survey and Research Branch, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Harden, R. (1990a). Lord How Island Woodhen Census. Unpublished report, 1989 Interim Report.

Harden, R. (1998). Methods Used in the Census of the Lord Howe Island Woodhen Population From 1985 to 1998, Unpublished report. Biodiversity Survey and Research Division, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Harden, R. & J. Robertshaw (1988). Lord Howe Island Woodhen Census 1987, Unpublished report. Environmental Survey and Research Branch, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Harden, R. & J. Robertshaw (1989). Lord Howe Island Woodhen Census 1988, Unpublished report. Environmental Survey and Research Branch, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Hindwood, K.A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 40:1-86.

Hull, A.F.B. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 34:636-693.

Hutton, I. (1991). Birds of Lord Howe Island: Past and Present. Coffs Harbour, NSW: author published.

Lourie-Fraser, G. (1985). Successful woodhen project - a brief overview. Australian Aviculture. 39:255-271.

Marchant, S. & P.J. Higgins, eds. (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 2 - Raptors to Lapwings. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Miller, B. & K.J. Mullette (1985). Rehabilitation of an endangered Australian bird: Lord Howe Woodhen Tricholimnas sylvestris. Biological Conservation. 34:55-95.

Miller, B. & T. Kingston (1980). The Lord Howe Island Woodhen. In: Haegl, C., ed. Endangered Animals of New South Wales. Page(s) Pp. 17-26. Sydney: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2002r). Approved Recovery Plan for the Lord Howe Woodhen. Hurstville, New South Wales: National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Priddel, D. (2007). Personal communication. Biodiversity and Conservation Science Section, Department of Environment and Climate Change (New South Wales). September 2007.

Sharland, M.S.R. (1929). Land birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 29:5-11.

Sibley, C.G. & B.L. Monroe (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Gallirallus sylvestris in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 22 Aug 2014 21:43:12 +1000.