Fenner Mid-term Seminar - War against the noisy miner - 10 May 9.45 am

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Subject: Fenner Mid-term Seminar - War against the noisy miner - 10 May 9.45 am
From: Kathryn Eyles <>
Date: Sun, 7 May 2017 10:21:55 +0000
Dear Chat-liners
Richard Begg's seminar will be at  9.45am this Wednesday (10th May) in the Fenner Seminar Room, Fenner Building ANU 30 mins presentation plus 15 mins question
War against the noisy miner: the casus belli may not be as clear as we thought

1878: “gallant little birds” (Wagga Wagga Advertiser)
1915: “the carol of the magpie is eclipsed by the song of the miner” (Emu) 
2004: “the mafia of the bird world” (ABCRN)
2015: “I hate those f***ing things” (RedditAustralia)
The public image of the noisy miner has taken a severe beating in recent decades on account of its violent tendencies towards smaller woodland birds, many of them of conservation concern. Yet it is the loss, fragmentation and degradation of native habitat caused by another invasive species that has fostered both the success of the noisy miner and the demise of small woodland birds. Nonetheless, the Department of the Environment issued a fatwa against noisy miners in 2014, opening the way for culling as a management response. In anticipation of a jihad against the species, there was jubilation amongst ecologists and bird lovers celebrated, eager for that perfect experience of diversity and abundance during their Sunday outings before sitting down to their dinner of roast bird. 

We do not have clear empirical evidence as to whether removing noisy miners from remnant patches of native woodland has long-term benefits for small woodland birds. My project aims to fill that gap. We monitored artificial nest predation rates, foraging by small woodland birds and aggressive interactions of all species before and after an experimental cull of noisy miners. We found that culling at a patch scale had little impact on noisy miner population due to immediate recolonization. We culled again and the same thing happened. At this point the Noisy Miner Liquidation Team was withdrawn from battle. Continued culling risked invalidating the experiment by eliminating noisy miners from nearby control sites. Since one aim of the experiment was to see if culling was a cost-effective final solution to the noisy miner question, we also considered that continuous culling effort would be impractical in the real world. We were unable to substantially reduce the noisy miner population in experimental patches but this does not mean that there won’t be a response from other species since the sites where noisy miners were removed have changed ecologically. Through the study we also hope to discover some interesting things about species interactions, nest predators and foraging behavior.  
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