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 Endangered|
|Listing and Conservation Advices||
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006w) [Listing Advice].
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008yd) [Conservation Advice].
|Recovery Plan Decision||
Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
|Adopted/Made Recovery Plans|
|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
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (43) (14/08/2006) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006g) [Legislative Instrument].
Documents and Websites
|State Listing Status||
|Non-statutory Listing Status||
|Scientific name||Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis |
|Infraspecies author||(Zietz, 1914)|
This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.
The current conservation status of the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands), Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis, under Australian and Territory Government legislation, is as follows:
National: Listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Northern Territory: Listed as Endangered under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000.
Scientific name: Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis
Common name: Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands)
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is conventionally accepted (Higgins & Peter 2002b). However, this subspecies is only weakly differentiated from other Hooded Robins subspecies (Melanodryas cucullata subspp.) of the Australian mainland (Schodde & Mason 1999). In considering the taxonomic status of this taxon, the total collection available to Schodde and Mason (1999) comprised five specimens.
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is a small woodland bird with black head, white belly and black and white wings, tail and back. It typically perches quietly on low branches and pounces on prey on the ground (DIPE 2006). While not strongly differentiated in morphology from Hooded Robins on the Australian mainland (Schodde & Mason 1999), the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is generally smaller in body size with a proportionally longer bill (Higgins & Peter 2002b).
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is restricted to the Tiwi Islands, which consist of Bathurst Island and Melville Island. These islands are adjacent and separated by the Apsley Strait, which is typically less than 100 m wide. This subspecies was last recorded in December 1991 and January 1992 at two sites (Fensham & Woinarski 1992), one on Bathurst Island and one on Melville Island. These are the only records for which precise locality data are available (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006; Woinarski et al. 2003b). The only other records for this taxon (from 191112) were from Melville Island (Matthews 1914; Zietz 1914).
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is presumed to be restricted to Bathurst Island and Melville Island: these islands comprise a total area of 7481 km² (DIPE 2006).
Although there are no known populations, it is possible that the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is patchily distributed in otherwise extensive habitat. No topographic barriers occur on Melville Island or Bathurst Island that would limit movement on the islands (DIPE 2006). Reduced fire frequency may have altered the floristic structure, fragmenting suitable habitat and reducing foraging efficiency (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006). A plantation forest estate, that has been developed on Melville Island, may distrupt movement patterns and further fragment habitat (Woinarski 2006a).
Since the last sighting of the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands), in 1992, there has been a number of large-scale fauna surveys on the Tiwi Islands that failed to locate the subspecies. These include:
- A thorough, two week search for Tiwi Island birds in October 1996 (Mason & Schodde 1997).
- Broad, thorough fauna surveys by the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, in 200001 (Woinarski et al. 2003a, 2003b), which included:
- systematic sampling of 351 one hectare quadrats
- each quadrat sampled 10 times over three days for birds
- sampling in all terrestrial habitats of Bathurst Island and Melville Island
- sampling in all seasons
- additional (400 person-days) opportunistic sampling by experienced zoologists for notable species, including the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands), beyond quadrats.
- Limited sampling by bird watchers as part of the second Atlas of Australian Birds (six sampled sites).
Woinarski and colleagues (2003a) have reviewed documents that refer to Tiwi Island birds and no other surveys (apart from those listed above) refer to the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands). It is notable that the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is a reasonably conspicuous, bold bird and is unlikely to be overlooked by experienced observers.
The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission (2006) estimate this subspecies' total population to be substantially fewer than 2500 individuals, and it is highly probable that this is declining. No individuals have been recorded since 1992 (Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission 2006). Mason and Schodde (1997) failed to locate any Hooded Robins (Tiwi Islands) during a search for endemic Tiwi Island bird taxa in 1996. It was noted that "they may be local, but we doubt they are common" (Mason & Schodde 1997).
The species was described by Zietz (1914), probably based on one specimen from Melville Island. Matthews (1914) described the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) as "common" in Melville Island. The next record came when Fensham and Woinarski (1992) recorded a single specimen in one quadrat, out of 98 quadrats sampled, with an additional incidental (non-quadrat based) record at one of another 13 sites sampled. This information was subsequently translated as "locally common especially in Acacia shrublands" by the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission (1998).
The Tiwi Islands have been subject to a series of substantial wildlife surveys over the period 200003, and no Hooded Robin (Tiwi Island) were recorded during this search (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006). Of all systematic (i.e. quadrat-based) abundance data, only a single Hooded Robin (Tiwi Island) has been recorded out of a total sampled area of 449 ha. Scaling this up to the entire area of the two islands may suggest a population of 1600 individuals, but this estimate is unreliable as it is based on a single record, from 1992, within a large sample (DIPE 2006).
The apparent decline of the Hooded Robin on the Tiwi Islands is paralleled by a possible decline on the nearby Cobourg Peninsula (these two areas together comprising the Tiwi-Cobourg bioregion). The Hooded Robin was one of a small set of bird species that was recorded from the Cobourg Peninsula by John Gilbert in 184041 but not recorded in the only subsequent substantial survey there by Frith and Calaby (1974).
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is not found in any conservation reserves (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006; Woinarski et al. 2003b).
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) occurs in eucalypt tall open forests and Acacia shrublands (the latter locally known as treeless plains) (Fensham & Woinarski 1992; Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006; Woinarski et al. 2003b). The eucalypt tall open forests are dominated by Corymbia nesophila, Darwin Woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata) and Darwin Stringybark (E. tetrodonta). Together, these ecosystems comprise the two most extensive vegetation types on the Tiwi Islands. In both cases, the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is likely to occur in areas without a dense, tall grassy understorey, as is the case with other Hooded Robin subspp. on mainland Australia (Higgins & Peter 2002b; Woinarski & Fisher 1995). The species is generally regarded as sedentary and is unlikely to vary habitat for different stages of its life history (Higgins & Peter 2002b).
The Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is not associated with any listed threatened ecological community. However, the following species, which are listed under the EPBC Act, occur in potential habitat: Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus, Vulnerable), Partridge Pigeon (eastern) (Geophaps smithii smithii, Vulnerable), Masked Owl (Tiwi Islands) (Tyto novaehollandiae melvillensis, Endangered), Butler's Dunnart (Sminthopsis butleri, Vulnerable), Typhonium jonesi (Endangered) and T. mirabile (Endangered) (DIPE 2006).
The following species, which are listed as threatened under Northern Territory legislation, occur in potential habitat: Calochilus caeruleus, Cycas armstrongii, Dodd's Azure Butterfly (Ogyris iphis doddi), Northern Grassdart Butterfly (Taractrocera ilia ilia), Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) and the Northern Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa pirata) (Woinarski et al. 2003a, 2003b).
There is no available information on age at sexual maturity, life expectancy or natural mortality for the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands). For other subspecies, the age to sexual maturity is 13 years, maximum life span is 1015 years and generation length is 25 years (Higgins & Peter 2002b).
For Hooded Robins on mainland Australia, breeding success is typically low (0.75 fledglings per group per year) (Fitri & Ford 2003b). Breeding units may comprise pairs or pairs with communal helpers. The breeding season (of other subspecies) is springsummer. The nests are typically placed in the forks of trees, mostly < 3 m above ground. The low nesting success of other subspecies may be largely because of predation of eggs and young (Fitri & Ford 2003b). For further information on breeding of Hooded Robins on mainland Australia, see Higgins and Peter (2002b).
There is no feeding information available for the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands). For subspecies on mainland Australia, the diet comprises a wide range of invertebrates, mostly taken from the ground (Fitri & Ford 2003a; Higgins & Peter 2002b). There is no substantial information on seasonal variability in invertebrate availability on the Tiwi Islands.
The typical foraging behaviour of Hooded Robins is by quietly perching on tree branches, or trunks, and then suddenly pouncing to take prey on the ground (Fitri & Ford 2003a; Higgins & Peter 2002b). This foraging behaviour is most efficient when there is relatively sparse low stratum vegetative (in contrast to the dense, tall grasses that are typical in savanna woodlands in northern Australia).
Invasion by exotic pasture grasses which are taller, denser and produce greater vegetative biomass (Rossiter et al. 2003) will reduce foraging success for the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands). Fire clears dense grassy vegetation, thus too infrequent fire will decrease the foraging value of sites. However, frequent extensive and intense fire is likely to reduce the availability of suitable foraging perches (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006).
There is no information for the movement patterns of the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands). For subspecies on mainland Australia, breeding territories are typically around 56 ha, within a broader home range of about 2050 ha (Higgins & Peter 2002b).
Of the eight bird species with recognised subspecies endemic to the Tiwi Islands (Woinarski et al. 2003b), all have morphologically indistinguishable populations on Bathurst Island and Melville Island, implying there are no breeding barriers between the islands.
Hooded Robins (Tiwi Islands) are highly distinctive and, typically, very detectable (DIPE 2006).
No particular survey technique is required for this relatively conspicuous and sedentary species. On the Tiwi Islands it is possible that any surviving groups are highly patchily distributed in otherwise apparently suitable and relatively homogeneous vegetation. This suggests very extensive searches may be required to detect any surviving groups (DIPE 2006).
No specific data on threats to the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) has been collected. The following factors constitute likely threats to the subspecies:
The most likely threatening factor affecting the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) is changed fire regime (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006). Northern savannas are difficult feeding environments for birds that pounce on the ground to feed, such as Hodded Robins. For much of the year, these environments are characterised by a dense and tall grass layer that obscures lower ground cover and constrains the movement of perch and pounce insectivorous birds. On the northern Australian mainland, Hooded Robins (in this case Melanodryas cucullata picata) are far more abundant in closed thickets of Lancewood (Acacia shirleyi) that offer a dense dry litter layer and little or no grass, rather than eucalypt open woodlands that are characterised by a tall dense grass layer (Woinarski & Fisher 1995).
It is likely that the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) persisted on the Tiwi Islands because Aboriginal groups used fine-scale fires to create a mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches. On the islands, the territory of the subspecies is likely to include unburnt patches, which provide cover and thus security from predation, and burnt patches, providing prime foraging areas (similar to the habit of Partridge Pigeons at Kakadu National Park) (Fraser et al. 2003).
Tiwi Islanders now have a predominantly sedentary lifestyle and most people live at one of three main towns. Traditional fire management on the islands has declined and the fire regime is now characterised by a far less regulated regime. The fire regime is now less frequent with events occurring later in the dry season and with larger burnt patches (Woinarski et al. 2003c). This change has been exacerbated by the invasion of exotic pasture grasses on the islands (Fensham & Cowie 1998; Woinarski et al. 2003a), which typically produce greater fuel loads (Rossiter et al. 2003). Foraging is likely to be disadvantaged by lack of fire (as fire creates feeding patches in the understorey), but frequent intense fire is likely to reduce the availability of suitable foraging perches (Northern Territory Parks & WIldlife Commission 2006).
The declining trend for the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) may be exacerbated by a plantation forestry program on Melville Island. The transformation of tall eucalypt open forest to short-rotation plantations may destroy the foraging and breeding habitats of the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) (Woinarski et al. 2003c).
Over much of their range elsewhere, Hooded Robins have declined or become locally extinct, possibly due to vegetation loss and change, increased predation rates or lower abundance of some invertebrate prey (Fitri & Ford 2003b; Higgins & Peter 2002b; Reid 1999; Robinson & Traill 1996; Saunders 1989). There are some feral cats on the Tiwi Isands that may have had some impact, but cat numbers do not appear high, and probably are not a primary factor in decline (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006).
No specific recovery management actions have been undertaken for the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands). The conservation status and assessment of this species has only occurred recently (DIPE 2006). Any recovery actions must be undertaken by or with the collaboration of the Tiwi Land Council (DIPE 2006). The development phase of the plantation forest estate did consider the impacts of the action on threatened species (Hadden 2000). Under a natural resource management plan for the Tiwi Islands, there is some management actions for the control of new and existing occurrences of exotic weeds (Tiwi Land Council 2004).
Management actions relevant to the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) have been identified in the Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee 2008yd) and include:
- Undertake survey work to determine if any populations remain extant.
- In the event that one or more populations are located, conduct further surveys to determine their distribution, population size, ecological requirements and relative impacts of threatening processes.
- Design and implement a monitoring program.
- Maintain, and appropriately manage threats, to areas of vegetation that may contain populations of the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands).
- Ensure that the viability of this subspecies is not reduced by broad-scale forestry development.
- Liaise with the Tiwi Land Council to ensure that management practices comply with the requirements of the subspecies.
- Investigate formal conservation arrangements such as the use of covenants, conservation agreements or inclusion in reserve tenure.
- Develop and implement a suitable fire management strategy for the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands).
- Identify and remove weeds in the local area, which could become a threat to the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands), using appropriate methods.
- Manage sites to prevent introduction of invasive weeds, which could become a threat to Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands), using appropriate methods.
- Ensure chemicals or other mechanisms used to eradicate weeds do not have a significant adverse impact on the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands).
There has been a major literature review of Melanodryas cucullata (Higgins & Peter 2002b) but no studies specific to the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) (DIPE 2006).
A number of documents provide information on the Hooded Robin (Tiwi Islands) and/or appropriate management actions including:
- The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000)
- the Threatened Species Information Sheet for the Hooded Robin (Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission 2006)
- Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee 2008yd)
- A natural resource management plan for the Tiwi Islands (Tiwi Land Council 2004)
- the Tiwi Islands Plantation Forestry Strategic Plan (Hadden 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||
The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
|Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality||Commonwealth Listing Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006w) [Listing Advice].|
|Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence)||Commonwealth Listing Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006w) [Listing Advice].|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds||Commonwealth Listing Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006w) [Listing Advice].|
|Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity)|
|Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals|
Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment (DIPE) (2006). Biodiversity Conservation Section, Northern Territory Government.
Fensham, R.J. & I.D. Cowie (1998). Alien plant invasions on the Tiwi Islands: extent, implications and priorities for control. Biological Conservation. 83:55-68.
Fensham, R.J. & J.C.Z. Woinarski (1992). Yawalama: the ecology and conservation of monsoon forest on Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Report to DASET, Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory.
Fitri, L. & H.A. Ford (2003a). Foraging behaviours of hooded robins Melanodryas cucullata in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. Corella. 27:61-67.
Fitri, L. & H.A. Ford (2003b). Breeding biology of hooded robins Melanodryas cucullata in New England, New South Wales. Corella. 27:68-74.
Fraser, F., V. Lawson, S. Morrison, P. Christophersen, S. McGreggor & M. Rawlinson (2003). Fire management experiment for the declining Partridge Pigeon, Kakadu National Park. Ecological Management and Restoration. 4:94-102.
Frith, H.J. & J.H. Calaby (1974). Fauna survey of the Port Essington district, Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory of Australia. CSIRO Division Wildlife Research Technical Paper No. 28.
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.
Hadden, K. (2000). Tiwi Islands Plantation Forestry Strategic Plan. Darwin: Tiwi Land Council.
Higgins, P.J. & J.M. Peter (2002b). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. In: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Volume 6. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Mason, I.J. & R. Schodde (1997). Bird survey of the Tiwi Islands, October 1996. Report to Tiwi Land Council. Canberra: CSIRO.
Matthews, G.M. (1914). A list of the birds of Melville Island, Northern Territory, Australia. Ibis. 2:91-132.
Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission (1998). The history and natural resources of the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Darwin: Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.
Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Commission (2006). Threatened Species of the Northern Territory: Hooded Robin (Tiwi subspecies), Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis. [Online]. Darwin: Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts. Available from: http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/animals/threatened/pdf/birds/tiwi_hooded_robin_en.pdf.
Reid, J.R.W. (1999). Threatened and declining birds in the New South Wales sheep-wheat belt. I. Diagnosis, characteristics and management. Report to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Canberra: CSIRO.
Robinson, D. & B.J. Traill (1996). Conserving woodland birds in the wheat and sheep belts of southern Australia. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Conservation Statement No. 10. Supplement to Wingspan. 6(2). Melbourne: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.
Rossiter, N.A., S.A. Setterfield, M.M. Douglas & L.B. Hutley (2003). Testing the grass-fire cycle: alien grass invasion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. Diversity and Distributions. 9:169-176.
Saunders, D. (1989). Changes in the avifauna of a region, district and remnant as a result of fragmentation of native vegetation: the wheatbelt of Western Australia. A case study. Biological Conservation. 50:99-135.
Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.
Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008yd). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/67092-conservation-advice.pdf.
Tiwi Land Council (2004). A natural resource management plan for the Tiwi Islands. Darwin: Tiwi Land Council.
Woinarski, J. (2006a). Personal communication.
Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, C. Hempel, M. Armstrong, D. Milne & R. Chatto (2003b). Biodiversity conservation on the Tiwi islands, Northern Territory. Part 2. Fauna. Report to National Heritage Trust, Tiwi Land Council and the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment.
Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, I. Cowie, R. Kerrigan & C. Hempel (2003a). Biodiversity conservation on the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Part 1. Environment and Plants. Report to National Heritage Trust, Tiwi Land Council and the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment.
Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, I. Cowie, R. Kerrigan & C. Hempel (2003c). Biodiversity conservation on the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Part 3. Management and planning for biodiversity conservation. Report to National Heritage Trust, Tiwi Land Council and the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment.
Woinarski, J.C.Z. & A. Fisher (1995). Wildlife of Lancewood (Acacia shirleyi) thickets and woodlands in northern Australia: 2. Comparisons with other environments of the region (Acacia woodlands, Eucalyptus savanna woodlands and monsoon rainforests). Wildlife Research. 22:413-443.
Zietz, F.R. (1914). The avifauna of Melville Island, Northern Territory. South Australian Ornithologist. 1:11-18.
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). Melanodryas cucullata melvillensis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Tue, 11 Mar 2014 00:26:50 +1100.