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Condition index monitoring supports conservation priorities for the protection of threatened grass-finch populations

Maute, Kimberly, French, Kristine, Legge, Sarah, Astheimer, Lee and Garnett, Stephen T. (2015). Condition index monitoring supports conservation priorities for the protection of threatened grass-finch populations. Conservation Physiology,3(1).

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Condition index monitoring supports conservation priorities for the protection of threatened grass-finch populations
Author Maute, Kimberly
French, Kristine
Legge, Sarah
Astheimer, Lee
Garnett, Stephen T.
Journal Name Conservation Physiology
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 3
Issue Number 1
ISSN 2051-1434   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Total Pages 9
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher Oxford University Press
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Conservation agencies are often faced with the difficult task of prioritizing what recovery actions receive support. With the
number of species under threat of decline growing globally, research that informs conservation priorities is greatly needed. The
relative vulnerability of cryptic or nomadic species is often uncertain, because populations are difficult to monitor and local
populations often seem stable in the short term. This uncertainty can lead to inaction when populations are in need of protection.
We tested the feasibility of using differences in condition indices as an indication of population vulnerability to decline for
related threatened Australian finch sub-species. The Gouldian finch represents a relatively well-studied endangered species,
which has a seasonal and site-specific pattern of condition index variation that differs from the closely related non-declining
long-tailed finch. We used Gouldian and long-tailed finch condition variation as a model to compare with lesser studied, threatened
star and black-throated finches. We compared body condition (fat and muscle scores), haematocrit and stress levels (corticosterone) among populations, seasons and years to determine whether lesser studied finch populations matched the model
of an endangered species or a non-declining species. While vulnerable finch populations often had lower muscle and higher fat
and corticosterone concentrations during moult (seasonal pattern similar to Gouldian finches), haematocrit values did not differ
among populations in a predictable way. Star and black-throated finch populations, which were predicted to be vulnerable
to decline, showed evidence of poor condition during moult, supporting their status as vulnerable. Our findings highlight how
measures of condition can provide insight into the relative vulnerability of animal and plant populations to decline and will
allow the prioritization of efforts towards the populations most likely to be in jeopardy of extinction
Keywords Condition
DOI   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
Additional Notes This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Description for Link Link to CC Attribution 4.0 License

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