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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epthianura crocea macgregori - (Yellow Chat (Dawson)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002c) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement advice for predation, habitat degradation,competition and disease transmission by feral pigs (2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
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
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (01/07/2002) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002c) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Yellow chat (Dawson) (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2013bh) [Database].
QLD:Overland flow (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM), 2009) [Internet].
QLD:Policy for Development and Use of Ponded Pastures (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Qld DNRM), 2003) [Management Plan].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Epthianura crocea macgregori [67090]
Family Meliphagidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Keast, 1958
Reference  
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: Epthianura crocea macgregori

Common names: Yellow Chat (Dawson), Yellow Chat (Capricorn)

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) is accepted (Higgins et al. 2001; Keast 1958f; Schodde & Mason 1999), however, there is some uncertainty as this taxonomy is based on poorly understood morphological differences between a small number of preserved specimens (Schodde & Mason 1999).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) is about 11 cm in length and has a mass of about 9 g (Higgins et al. 2001). When breeding, the adult male plumage is mainly yellow-olive above, with dusky streaking, a rich golden-yellow head and rump, and white edges to the feathers of the wings. The breeding adult male plumage is lemon yellow below, with a distinct black crescent or bar across the breast. Adult females in breeding plumage are broadly similar to adult males (in breeding plumage), but lack the distinct black mark on the breast and are generally bright yellow rather than golden-yellow in colour (Houston et al. 2004a; Jaensch et al. 2004a; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The non-breeding plumage is generally duller than the breeding plumage, with adult males displaying an olive crown and nape, and paler yellow colouring on the underparts (Higgins et al. 2001). The non-breeding plumage of the adult female is also plainer, with some females retaining the yellow colouring only on the rump and/or vent (Jaensch et al. 2004a). Juveniles can be identified by the more even brown colour on the upperparts, light brown throat and breast, and otherwise paler yellow underparts (Houston et al. 2004a; Jaensch et al. 2004a).

General distribution
The Yellow Chat (Dawson) is restricted to coastal areas of central Queensland (Schodde & Mason 1999). It is known to occur in breeding populations on the Torilla Plain and Fitzroy River Delta (Houston et al. 2004b, 2006; Jaensch et al. 2004a). A third breeding population was present on Curtis Island in 2002 (Houston et al. 2004a), but an extensive survey in early 2007 failed to detect any birds at this location (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

In addition to the three breeding populations, a small number of birds (less than ten) were recorded in the Saint Lawrence area during surveys in 2006–2007 (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.). There is circumstantial evidence to suggest that breeding has occurred at this location, but this cannot be confirmed. Consequently, further surveys are required to determine if these individuals are members of a local breeding population or dispersed members of a known breeding population during the non-breeding period (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

Extent of occurrence
The extent of occurrence of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) was estimated at 25 km² in 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000). However, this estimate was calculated before breeding populations were rediscovered on Torilla Plain (Jaensch et al. 2004a) and Fitzroy River Delta (Houston et al. 2004b). The breeding populations on Torilla Plain, Fitzroy River Delta and Curtis Island are currently estimated to occur over areas of about 85 km², 38 km² and 15 km² respectively. Based on these figures, the current total extent of occurrence is estimated to be between 130 and 145 km² (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.), depending on the status of the Curtis Island population.

There is insufficient information on the historical distribution to determine conclusively if there has been any past change in the extent of occurrence. However, the Yellow Chat (Dawson) continues to persist at both locations for which historical records available: Torilla Plain, where it was recorded in 1917 (Campbell 1917), and Fitzroy River Delta, where it was recorded in 1859 (Mack 1930). There is, however, evidence of a recent decline in the extent of occurrence. A breeding population of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) was present on Curtis Island in 2002 (Houston et al. 2004a), but an extensive survey of the island in early 2007 failed to detect any birds. Further surveys are required to confirm the status of this population, but the preliminary results suggest that it could now be extinct (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

Area of occupancy
The area of occupancy of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) was estimated at 25 km² in 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000), but this estimate was calculated before populations were rediscovered on Torilla Plain (Jaensch et al. 2004a) and Fitzroy River Delta (Houston et al. 2004b). The area of occupancy is currently estimated to be about 60 km² (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

As with the extent of occurrence, there is insufficient information to determine conclusively if there has been any past change in the area of occupancy. While the Yellow Chat (Dawson) remains present at both locations for which historical records are available, the status of the breeding population on Curtis Island remains uncertain.

Location count
The Yellow Chat (Dawson) is known to occur at a minimum of two locations, and perhaps at as many as four locations (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.; Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b, 2006; Jaensch et al. 2004a).

Fragmentation
It is unknown whether the distribution of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) is sufficiently fragmented to isolate populations. The extent and connectivity of suitable habitat was probably greater in the pre-pastoral era than it is today, although there is no specific evidence to confirm this (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) has been reasonably well surveyed in recent years. Location specific surveys include:

  • Curtis Island: surveys conducted in 2000, 2001, 2002 (Houston et al. 2004a) and 2007 (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).
  • Torilla Plain and Fitzroy River Delta: surveys in 2003 and 2004 (Houston et al. 2004a; Jaensch et al. 2004a), and monitoring was conducted at least bi-annually in 2004–06 (Houston et al. 2006; W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

The distribution and size of the populations at these locations, and especially on Torilla Plain and Fitzroy River Delta, are moderately well known (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

Extensive searches have been conducted in potential habitat at other sites within the surrounding Queensland central coast region. These searches have failed to locate any additional breeding populations, although further surveys are required to determine if a small number of birds observed in the Saint Lawrence area during searches in 2006 and 2007 represent of a local breeding population (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

Total population
The total population size of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) is estimated at approximately 240 birds (Houston et al. 2004b). However, the extinction of the population on Curtis Island, if confirmed, would reduce this estimate to approximately 200 birds.

Local breeding populations
There are local breeding populations of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) on the Torilla Plain and the Fitzroy River Delta, and a third breeding population could persist on Curtis Island (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b, 2006; Jaensch et al. 2004a). The population on Torilla Plain is located on freehold land and a small area of perpetual lease land and is estimated to comprise of about 160 birds (Jaensch et al. 2004a; W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.). The population on Fitzroy River Delta is located on freehold land, grazing lease land, special lease land (used for salt mining) and a camping reserve, and is estimated to comprise of about 40 birds (Houston et al. 2004b). Each of these populations was monitored 2004–2006 and the results of the monitoring program indicate that both populations are reasonably stable (Houston et al. 2006). The population on Curtis Island was located within Curtis Island Conservation Park (which is under grazing lease but is managed for conservation purposes) and was estimated to comprise of about 40 birds when surveyed in 2000, 2001 and 2002 (Houston et al. 2004a). However, an extensive survey of Curtis Island in early 2007 failed to detect any birds. This suggests that the population on Curtis Island has declined substantially since 2002 and could now be extinct (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

It is not known if the three local breeding populations are sufficiently isolated as to have a very low frequency of interbreeding. The population at Torilla Plain lies a minimum of 160 km to the north of the populations at Fitzroy River Delta and Curtis Island. The southern Fitzroy River Delta and Curtis Island are separated from one another by a distance of approximately 40 km (Houston et al. 2004b). The movements of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) are poorly known, but the populations at Fitzroy River Delta and Curtis Island are connected to one another by tidal wetland habitat (mangroves and sparsely vegetated saltflats) (J. McCabe 2002, pers. comm.; P. O'Neill 2002, pers. comm.) that could potentially facilitate an exchange of individuals between the two populations.

Population trend
There is insufficient information available to determine if there has been any historical change in the total population size of the Yellow Chat (Dawson). However, a recent extensive survey suggests that the breeding population on Curtis Island has undergone a substantial decline in size and could now be extinct (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.). It is possible that numbers on Curtis Island (and hence the total population size) could recover in future if the drought conditions from 2003–07 subside and local conditions improve (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

The monitoring of populations on Torilla Plain and Fitzroy River Delta has recorded seasonal fluctuations in population size with maximum numbers recorded at the end of the wet season and minimum numbers recorded in the dry season (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) inhabits marine plain wetlands that are subject to extensive seasonal inundation and varying degrees of both fresh and saltwater (tidal) influence (Barnard 1913; Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a). The Yellow Chat (Dawson) typically occupies portions of the marine plain that have a network of shallow drainage channels and depressions supporting a mosaic of vegetation that consists of grassland dominated by Sporobolus virginicus and/or Paspalum distichum, dense beds of rush (e.g. Schoenoplectus litoralis) or sedge (e.g. Cyperus alopecuroides), patches of Samphire (Halosarcia spp.), and areas of bare or sparsely-vegetated mud and/or shallow water. These areas are generally without trees, but Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina) and Ceriops tagal do occur at some occupied sites in tidal areas (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) utilises different areas of the wetland mosaic for different purposes. It breeds, shelters and forages in grasslands and dense beds of rush and sedge, but it also forages in more open habitats nearby, especially more sparse grasslands and Samphire vegetation (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a). The subspecies is also known to persist in this habitat during periods of drought (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) is not known to associate with any other threatened species or subspecies listed under the EPBC Act. Several birds listed as migratory under the EPBC Act occur in the same area, including the Australian Painted Snipe (Rostratula australis), Latham's Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatalis), Common Greenshank (T. nebularia), Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminate) and Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), regularly occur within or adjacent to known or potential habitat of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) (Houston et al. 2006; Jaensch et al. 2004b).

No specific information is available on the age of sexual maturity or the life expectancy of the Yellow Chat (Dawson). However, based on observations of other species of Epthianura in Australia, the Yellow Chat (Dawson) might be capable of breeding at one year of age (Major 1991; Williams 1979), and probably has a life expectancy of three or more years (Williams 1979).

The generation length of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) is estimated to be in the order of two to three years or more (Garnett & Crowley 2000; W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.), but no reliable life history data are available for this subspecies or any other subspecies of the Yellow Chat.

Reproduction
The Yellow Chat (Dawson) has been recorded breeding in spring and summer (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b), and probably also breeds in autumn (Jaensch et al. 2004a). There is evidence to suggest that breeding is initiated by heavy rainfall, but further information is required to confirm this response (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b, 2006; Jaensch et al. 2004a).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) builds a small cup-shaped nest that is placed close to the ground in rushes and/or grasses (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b). All recorded clutches have consisted of two or three eggs, but adults have been observed feeding up to four fledged young at a time, which suggests that clutches might occasionally consist of four eggs (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a). No specific information is available on the role of the adults in incubation or the length of the incubation period. Based on observations of other species of Epthianura in Australia, incubation is probably by both sexes, and the incubation period is probably about 10–14 days in duration (Higgins et al. 2001; Major 1991; Williams 1979).

Fledglings are fed by both parents (Houston et al. 2004b). No specific information is available on the period of post-fledging dependence but, based on observations of the closely related White-fronted Chat (E. albifrons), fledglings are probably fed by the parents for about 10 days after departing the nest (Major 1991).

There is insufficient information to determine rates of breeding success but, based on observations of the White-fronted Chat, pairs might be capable of rearing up to three broods in a season (Major 1991).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) is not known to cross-breed with any other species or subspecies. It is unlikely that any cross-breeding occurs in the wild because the distribution of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) does not overlap with the distribution of any other subspecies of the Yellow Chat (Schodde & Mason 1999) or any other species of the genus Epthianura (Higgins et al. 2001).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) feeds on insects, such as moths, damselflies, caterpillars and mosquito larvae, and other invertebrates, such as spiders (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a). Its tongue has a brush-like tip that is characteristic of honeyeaters (Higgins et al. 2001; Parker 1973b), which suggests that it could also feed on nectar.

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) gleans invertebrates from the ground (on bare mud or mud with flattened or sparse grass); from the surface of shallow water; from the basal stems of rushes, grasses and Samphire plants; and occasionally from low shrubs (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al, 2004a). It also sallies for flying insects from perches in tall rushes (Houston et al. 2004a).

Little is known about the movements of the Yellow Chat (Dawson). It is resident on Curtis Island (P. O'Neill 2002, pers. comm.), but it might undertake seasonal movements at Torilla Plain (Jaensch et al. 2004a) and Fitzroy River Delta, where it was observed as most abundant during the wet season (Houston et al. 2006). It has been speculated that the Yellow Chat (Dawson) could disperse in response to long-term changes in weather patterns. For example, dispersal could occur following substantial rainfall in the wet season, and especially when several successive seasons of substantial rainfall promote conditions favourable for breeding and thus allow the population to expand in size. Alternatively, dispersal could be prompted by periods of prolonged drought and concomitant decline in the availability of essential resources (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

The Yellow Chat has elsewhere been described as nomadic (Black et al. 1983; Blakers et al. 1984; Storr 1980), resident (Jaensch & Vervest 1990b) and sedentary (Ford & Parker 1974), and is thought to be capable of dispersing over long distances (Black et al. 1983; Ford 1978; Ford & Parker 1974; Higgins et al. 2001).

The Yellow Chat (Dawson) occurs singly, in pairs, in family groups of up to six birds in the breeding season, and in large flocks (one of which contained about 40 birds) in the post-breeding period (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a).

Pairs of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) appear to maintain a territory during the breeding season (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b). No precise information is available on the sizes of territories or home ranges, but on Curtis Island males were observed at approximately 100 m intervals around the margins of wetlands during the breeding season, and adults with young foraged up to 200 m from their nests (Houston et al. 2004a).

The loss or degradation of its habitat has been identified as a threat to the Yellow Chat (Dawson). The potential causes of loss and degradation are grazing and associated trampling and/or digging by mammalian herbivores, invasion by exotic pasture grasses, alteration of natural water flows, expansion of industrial operations and wildfire (Houston & McCabe 1996; Houston et al. 2004a, 2006).

Grazing
There is evidence that grazing and associated trampling and/or digging by feral Pigs (Sus scrofa) is damaging habitat occupied by the Yellow Chat (Dawson) on Curtis Island (Houston et al. 2004a) and, to a lesser degree, on Torilla Plain and Fiztroy River Delta (Houston & Melzer 2006, Houston et al. 2006). Habitat occupied by the Yellow Chat (Dawson) at Torilla Plain is subject to grazing and trampling by Cattle (Bos taurus), but it has been suggested that the current intensity of grazing on Torilla Plain might be beneficial to the Yellow Chat (Dawson) because it may limit the spread of invasive grasses into chat habitat (Houston & McCabe 1996; Jaensch et al. 2004b), and that the current intensity of Cattle grazing on Curtis Island might be beneficial to the Yellow Chat (Dawson) because it could potentially open up dense grasslands and thus render them more suitable to the subspecies (Houston et al. 2004a).

It has also been speculated that an increase in the intensity of Cattle grazing could damage rush-beds and thus have a detrimental affect on the Yellow Chat (Dawson) (Houston et al. 2004a, 2006). This situation may have developed on Curtis Island, where a recent substantial decline in the local population of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) has coincided with a severe drought, magnifying the impact of grazing pressure and resulting in a reduction in the cover of sedges (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

Invasive pasture grasses
The habitat of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) is at risk of being invaded by exotic pasture grasses such as Brachiaria mutica and Hymenachne amplexicaulis. These grasses could potentially have an adverse affect on the Yellow Chat (Dawson) by replacing native plants such as Paspalum distichum or Cyperus alopecuroides, which are dominant species in some habitat occupied by the chat. However, the high levels of soil salinity that are typical of Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat probably reduce the potential for invasion. Furthermore, it has been speculated that the current intensity of cattle grazing also might help to limit the spread of exotic pasture grasses into Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat (Houston & McCabe 1996; Houston et al. 2004a; Jaensch et al. 2004a). The only occupied site at which the vegetation has been substantially altered by invasive exotic grasses is on the central Torilla Plain, where B. mutica has become a dominant component of the vegetation and has apparently replaced the native species P. distichum. However, as the Torilla Plain supports a large proportion of the total Yellow Chat (Dawson) population (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.), it appears that the impact of B. mutica, at least at this site, is minimal (Houston & Melzer 2008).

Alteration of water flows
The construction of dams and other structures that alter the flow of water into and/or through areas occupied by the Yellow Chat (Dawson) could have an adverse affect on the subspecies. The construction of dams, ponded pastures or embankments upstream of occupied sites, or the construction of sea walls (levees) or channel block banks landward of occupied sites, could reduce the amount of freshwater that reaches and inundates such sites. The reduction in the amount of freshwater inflow at these sites can reduce the area of suitable habitat (Houston et al. 2004a; J. McCabe 2002, pers. comm.; P. O'Neill 2002, pers. comm.). For example, tidal exclusion works have reduced the cover of perennial vegetation on Torilla Plain (Jaensch et al. 2004a) and also may have had an adverse impact on some suitable habitat on Fitzroy River Delta (J. McCabe 2002, pers. comm.; P. O'Neill 2002, pers. comm.).

A reduction in the amount of freshwater inflow might also impede successful reproduction. There is evidence to suggest that breeding is initiated by heavy rainfall and subsequent inundation. Successful reproduction could be dependent on the growth of wetland vegetation and consequent expansion of insect populations during periods of inundation to provide a source of abundant food for adults and their young (Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b, 2006).

There is evidence to suggest that habitat located upstream or landward of the structures described above could actually benefit from the increased retention of freshwater in some circumstances (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.). However, in sites where substantial levee banks are present, the increased retention of freshwater can cause large pools to form and thus reduce the complexity of the network of drainage channels that are normally used by the Yellow Chat (Dawson) (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).

It is unlikely that levees or other structures will be constructed in future in areas occupied by the Yellow Chat (Dawson) because the construction of barriers such as extensive levee banks or sea walls in tidal areas is illegal in Queensland following the introduction of the ponded pastures policy (Qld DNRM 2003).

Wildfire
The habitat of the Yellow Chat (Dawson) is prone to wildfire (P. O'Neill 2002, pers. comm.), but wildfire is considered to pose only a minor threat to this subspecies (Houston et al. 2004a).

Other Threats
Houston and Melzer (2008) identify a number of other potential, but as yet poorly understood, threats to the Yellow Chat (Dawson), including:

  • increased groundwater salinisation from salt mining activities and consequent change in vegetation composition and structure
  • siltation of existing channels as a result of current management regimes (grazing, clearing in catchment, changes in flow regime) or industrial expansion
  • unmanaged public access or uncontrolled ecotourism and possible trampling of sedges and disturbance to birds
  • prolonged floods, impacting on breeding success
  • potential consequences associated with climate change (e.g. prolonged drought, accelerated sea level rise, increased storm surge or reduced average regional rainfall). Rises in sea level associated with climate change would raise the importance of corridors between areas of existing and potential Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat
  • predation by feral animals including cats. Cats are present at both Torilla Plain and Curtis Island and represent a potential threat. The large percentage of young recruits into the sub-population observed at Torilla Plain in May 2005 indicates that the threat from cats is currently low.

Undertaken recovery actions
The following recovery actions have been implemented for the conservation of the Yellow Chat (Dawson):

  • Targeted surveys have been conducted at Torilla Plain, Fitzroy River Delta and Curtis Island (Arnold et al. 1993; Houston et al. 2004a, 2004b; Jaensch et al. 2004a). The populations at Torilla Plain and Fitzroy River Delta have been monitored regularly since 2004 (W. Houston 2007, pers. comm.).
  • The ecology of the subspecies has been studied on Curtis Island (Houston et al. 2004a).
  • Some habitat occupied by the Yellow Chat (Dawson) on Curtis Island has been protected by the declaration of Curtis Island Conservation Park (Houston et al. 2004a).
  • Known locations on the Torilla Plain are lodged with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service (Houston & Melzer 2008).
  • Breeding habitat on the Fitzroy River Delta is identified in the Queensland WildNet database (Houston & Melzer 2008).
  • The introduction of the ponded pastures policy made the construction of barriers such as extensive levee banks for pasture development or road works in tidal areas illegal in Queensland (Houston & Melzer 2008; Qld DNRM 2003).
  • Construction of water impoundments in the Fitzroy River catchment is regulated under the Moratorium on Overland Flow Water (Qld DERM 2009), although this moratorium does not encompass Wadallah or Coonyan Creeks, which are the main sources of water for the Torilla Plain (Houston & Melzer 2008).
  • Fire management is conducted on the Torilla Plain when there is a risk of burning (Houston & Melzer 2008).
  • A management strategy for vertebrate pests has been developed for Curtis Island (Hall 2005).
  • Techniques for monitoring and controlling vertebrate pests are being trialled on Curtis Island (Houston & Melzer 2008).

Future recovery actions
The following recovery actions have been recommended in the Yellow Chat (Dawson) recovery plan (Houston & Melzer 2008):

  • Undertake ecological research to enhance knowledge base for undertaking management actions.
  • Liaise with land managers (including Department of Natural Resources and Water (DNRW)) as to the importance of unregulated surface flows and maintaining current drainage patterns in Yellow Chat (Dawson) catchments.
  • Maintain monitoring programmes at all sites for presence or, where already present, invasion of other microhabitats. Maintain grazing at level consistent with maintaining favourable Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat.
  • The EPA to negotiate with DNRW and lessees for lower stock densities on leases.
  • Incorporate fire management into property management guidelines.
  • Implement pest management strategy including island-wide control strategies, monitoring of Pig population and impact on Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat.
  • Review management of the protected ares (conservation park and national park tenure) as it applies to Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat.
  • Establish management protocols as part of the lease agreement aimed at maintaining the plain in 'good' condition. Follow guidelines provided by Torilla Plain (rotational grazing, moderate stocking densities). Consider fencing an exclosure around key chat habitat on the marine plain.
  • Liaise with industry with a view to increase conservation status for the area (e.g. voluntary conservation agreements or lease relinquishment if appropriate). Recognition of Yellow Chat (Dawson) habitat requirements in company environmental management plans.
  • Fencing of riparian and saltmarsh habitat currently within freehold or lease tenure.
  • Investigate voluntary conservation agreements or lease relinquishment if appropriate and incorporation into camping reserve.
  • Yellow Chat (Dawson) location data and habitat mapping should be made available to EPA planners, for use in development assessments and scientific purposes permits.

Government funded projects
The following projects have received Government funding for conservation work benefiting the Yellow Chat (Dawson) and its habitat:

  • Birds Australia Capricornia Branch (Queensland) received $8604 through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2003–04 for identification of populations, other than Curtis Island, and mapping of suitable habitat on the mainland.
  • Birds Australia (Queensland) received $14 212 through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2004–05 for targeting of management objectives and completion of first round items as part of a conservation effort on Curtis Island.

There have been a number of detailed studies on the Yellow Chat (Dawson), including Arnold and colleagues (1993), Houston and colleagues (2004a, 2004b) and Jaensch and colleagues (2004a).

The Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori recovery plan (Houston & Melzer 2008) provides detailed management information for the species.

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:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epthianura crocea macgregori - (Yellow Chat (Dawson)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002c) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Intensification of farming practices such as increased grazing pressure, cropping expansion, vegetation clearance and/or pasture improvement Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epthianura crocea macgregori - (Yellow Chat (Dawson)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002c) [Listing Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Sea level rise:Inundation associated with climate change Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Habitat disturbance from recreational vehicle use National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Hymenachne amplexicaulis (Hymenachne, Olive Hymenachne, Water Stargrass, West Indian Grass, West Indian Marsh Grass) National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Echinochloa polystachya National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [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) National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epthianura crocea macgregori - (Yellow Chat (Dawson)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002c) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes including flooding National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Habitat modification due to levee construction and associated hydrology changes National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Impacts associated with reductions in flooding frequency National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Riparian vegetation degradation National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Salinity National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Changes to water and sediment flows leading to erosion, siltation and pollution National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Commercial and Industrial Areas:Recreational, commercial and industrial development National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori (Houston, W. & A. Melzer, 2008) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epthianura crocea macgregori - (Yellow Chat (Dawson)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002c) [Listing Advice].

Arnold, D., I. Bell & G. Porter (1993). The Incidence of the Yellow Chat Epthianura crocea (Castelnau and Ramsay) on Curtis Island. Report to Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.

Barnard, E.D. (1913). Visit to Torilla Plains. Emu. 13:90-93.

Black, A.B., G. Duggan, J.A. Pedler & L.P. Pedler (1983). The Yellow Chat Ephthianura crocea at Pandiburra Bore, northeastern South Australia. South Australian Ornithologist. 29:42-44.

Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Campbell, A.J. (1917). The Yellow-breasted Bush-Chat (Ephthianura crocea). Emu. 17:61-62.

Ford, J. (1978). Geographical isolation and morphological and habitat differentiation between birds of the Kimberley and the Northern Territory. Emu. 78:25-35.

Ford, J.R. & S.A. Parker (1974). Distribution and taxonomy of some birds from south-western Queensland. Emu. 74:177-194.

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.

Hall, C. (2005). Draft Curtis Island Vertebrate Pest Management Plan. Review Period 1 November - 30 June 2010. Rockhamption, Queensland: Centre for Environmental Management, Central Queensland University.

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & W.K. Steele, eds. (2001). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 5: Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Houston, W. (2007). Personal communication.

Houston, W. & A. Melzer (2008). National Recovery Plan for the Yellow chat (Capricorn subspecies) Epthianura crocea macgregori. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/e-c-macgregori.html.

Houston, W. & J. McCabe (1996). Waterbirds and Freshwater Wetland Habitats of the Lower Fitzroy River, Queensland. Report to Queensland Department of Environment and Australian Heritage Commission. Rockhampton, Queensland: Capricorn Conservation Council.

Houston, W., G. Porter, P. O'Neill & R. Elder (2004a). The ecology of the critically endangered Yellow Chat Epthianura crocea macgregori on Curtis Island. Sunbird. 34:10-23.

Houston, W., G. Porter, R. Elder, R. Black & M. Sheaves (2004b). Rediscovery of Yellow Chats (Capricorn subspecies) on the Fitzroy River Delta central Queensland. Sunbird. 34:36-42.

Houston, W., R. Elder, R. Black & J. McCabe (2006). Conservation significance of coastal wetland habitats for birds at Twelve Mile Creek, Fitzroy River, central Queensland. Sunbird. 36(1):20-36.

Jaensch, R., J. McCabe, J. Wahl & W. Houston (2004). Breeding by Australian Painted Snipe on the Torilla Plain, Brigalow Belt coast, Queensland. Stilt. 45:39-42.

Jaensch, R., W. Houston, R. Black, L. Campbell, J. McCabe, R. Elder & G. Porter (2004a). Rediscovery of the Capricorn subspecies of Yellow Chat Epthianura crocea macgregori at Torilla Plain, on the mainland coast of central Queensland. Sunbird. 34:24-35.

Jaensch, R.P. & R.M. Vervest (1990b). Waterbirds at Remote Wetlands in Western Australia, 1986-1988. Part Two: Lake MacLeod, Shark Bay, Camballin Floodplain and Parry Floodplain. RAOU Report 69. Page(s) 1986-1988. Canning Bridge, Western Australia: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Mack, G. (1930). The Yellow Chat. Emu. 30:87.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Major, R.E. (1991). Breeding biology of the White-fronted Chat Ephthianura albifrons in a saltmarsh near Melbourne. Emu. 91:236-249.

McCabe, J. (2002). Personal communication.

O'Neill, P. (2002). Personal communication.

Parker, S.A. (1973b). The tongues of Ephthianura and Ashbyia. Emu. 73:19-20.

Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM) (2009). Overland flow. [Online]. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/water/management/overland_flow/index.html.

Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Qld DNRM) (2003). Policy for Development and Use of Ponded Pastures. [Online]. Brisbane, Queensland: DNRM. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/about/policy/documents/1291/lmu_2003_1291.pdf.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Storr, G.M. (1980). Birds of the Kimberley Division, Western Australia. Special Publications of the Western Australian Museum, No. 11. 11:1-117. Perth, Western Australia: Western Australian Museum.

Williams, C.K. (1979). Ecology of Australian chats (Ephianura Gould): reproduction in aridity. Australian Journal of Zoology. 27:213-229.

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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). Epthianura crocea macgregori in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 2 Oct 2014 17:34:56 +1000.