One factor affecting megapode distribution appears to be presence of
predators. Throughout south-east Asia you only really get megapodes on
off-shore islands without civets and wild pigs. In Australia goannas would
have the main predators, of eggs at least, until we brought in dingos, foxes
and pigs (although thylacines might have limited megapode abundance in
Now the Malleefowl has a shrunken distribution due to habitat clearance,
changed fire regimes and fox predation, and continues to be in trouble. I
suggest that it may have not so much retreated to prime "core" habitat, as
having relictual populations in marginal habitat where fox density is lowest.
Since we are soon going to be a manager of Malleefowl habitat, we need to
understand the dynamics of Malleefowl ecology. What do we do? Reduce water
sources, rabbits, foxes and fire frequencies? What about effects on other
fauna and flora? We live in suddenly more interesting times.
Late north wind
Scorched umber haze
Mallee dust cakes my nostrils
Birds Australia Conservation & Liaison,
Australian Bird Research Centre,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
Tel: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
The Virtual Emu: http://www.vicnet.net.au/~raou/raou.html