Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Hugo Bekle

Abstract

West Wallabi Island in the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, provides significant breeding habitat for the largest colony of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus pacificus, in the Eastern Indian Ocean. The Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) surveyed the Island in 1992 and estimated the population to be in excess of 1,117,000 pairs of breeding birds. Recent proposals to open the Abrolhos area to a larger number of visitors has identified the need for more detailed investigations into the relationship of birds and habitat. An understanding of this relationship provides a means of determining the ways in which populations will respond to human exploitation and environmental change. The design and implementation of appropriate management strategies must utilise this information if sustainable development is to be achieved. This study involved a detailed survey of a habitat area on West Wallabi Island as means of identifying the locational factors, such as topography, climate, soil and vegetation structures that influence the distribution of nest Sites, and to complete a population census as a means of monitoring population trends over time. Field research was carried out over a 10 week period from 18th March 1998 to 23th May 1998 when census and observational data were collected. The results of this survey indicate that for the 1997/98 breeding season the population of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters breeding on West Wallabi Island is approximately 370 000 pairs of birds, approximately one third of the previously published data.

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