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Conservation of the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly in Australia

  • Account of one of longest insect conservation programmes in Australia
  • Deals with major iconic species with strong public/community interest
  • Innovative community involvements provide many lessons for similar exercises in many parts of the world

By: Donald PA Sands(Author), Tim R New(Author)

209 pages, 40 colour photos & 13 b/w illustrations, 6 tables


Paperback | Aug 2016 | #231268 | ISBN-13: 9789402406344
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £109.99 $140/€123 approx
Hardback | Aug 2013 | #208752 | ISBN-13: 9789400771697
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £129.99 $166/€145 approx

About this book

This survey of one the longest insect conservation campaigns in Australia deals with recovery of one of the most iconic endemic butterflies, the Richmond birdwing, threatened by clearance and fragmentation of subtropical rainforest in eastern Australia and the spread of an alien larval food-plant. Its conservation has involved many aspects of community involvement, developed over more than 20 years, and focused on habitat restoration and weed eradication, in conjunction with conservation of remaining forest fragments.

Conservation of the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly in Australia has involved the entire historical range of the butterfly, addressed threats and emphasised landscape connectivity, and has enhanced recovery through extensive plantings of native food plants. Interest has been maintained through extensive publicity, community education and media activity, and the programme has provided many lessons for advancing insect conservation practice in the region.


1. Birdwing butterflies and their conservation needs
1.1. Introduction
1.2. The birdwing butterflies
1.3. Birdwing relationships and distribution
1.4. Australian birdwings and their identities
1.5. Conservation concerns
1.6. Conservation of Australian birdwings

2. The Richmond birdwing butterfly
2.1. The Richmond birdwing: distribution and decline
2.2. Biology
2.3. Times of appearance, dispersal, population changes and migration of adults
2.4. Life history, recognition of early stages, natural enemies
2.5. Introduction to concerns and detection of threats
2.6. History of the Richmond birdwing conservation project

3. The food plants of the Richmond birdwing
3.1. Introduction: historical and biological background
3.2. Taxonomy and ecology of the food plant vines
3.3. Biology of the vines: pollinators, seed and capsule development
3.4. Identities of the subtropical Aristolochia and Pararistolochia vines
3.5. The ‘stepping stone’ hypothesis
3.6. Recording the distribution of Pararistolochia praevenosa and P. laheyana
3.7. Distinguishing the ‘look-alike’ vines from Pararistolochia spp.
3.8. Food plants: central importance in conservation planning
3.9. Propagation and cultivation of the food plants

4. The natural habitats and resources for the Richmond birdwing
4.1. Introduction: ecosystems supporting the Richmond birdwing and its food plants
4.2. The bioregions and limited distribution of vines
4.3. Subtropical plant communities associated with P. praevenosa in New South Wales and Queensland
4.4. Possible impacts from climate change
4.5. Locating habitats with the birdwing food plants and protecting their tenure – what is now needed?
4.6. Needs for remnant habitat conservation
4.7. Restoring bushland habitats on private and public land
4.8. Cultivation and distribution of the birdwing butterfly food plants: a core recovery activity
4.9. Other Aristolochia species as possible food plants for the Richmond birdwing

5. Conservation needs and early concerns
5.1. Summarizing the scenario: an initial perspective
5.2. Threats
5.3. The Draft Recovery Plan (1996)

6. Foundation of the programme: engaging the community
6.1. Perspective
6.2. Education programmes: school involvement and publicity
6.3. The birdwing propagation house
6.4. Increasing awareness
6.5. The Environmental Caretaker Network for the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly (1999-2000).
6.6. Overseas collaboration
6.7. The roles of Government Agencies and local Community Groups
6.8. Development of wider community and agency interests

7. Expanding the Programme. The development of community networks:  their achievements and roles in conservation and recovery
7.1. The Richmond Birdwing Networks
7.2. The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network

8. Habitat restoration and outcomes
8.1. Planning habitat restoration
8.2. Reducing the detrimental attraction of Dutchman’s Pipe vine
8.3. Priority sites
8.4. Outcomes of flagship sites and corridors
8.5. Monitoring and recording
8.6. Internet website
8.7. Addressing inbreeding depression and ex situ conservation

9. Revising the Draft Recovery Plan
9.1. Introduction
9.2. Reviewing what has been accomplished
9.3. Research needed
9.4. Planning for the future

10. Broadening perspective


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Dr Don Sands, who has spent a lifetime understanding insects and developing solutions to major insect problems, both economic and in their conservation, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division in 2001. He received his award for 'service to the horticultural industry in Australia and the Pacific Region through the development of biological pest control solutions, and to entomology, particularly through conservation projects.'

Prof. Tim New, former Editor in Chief of the Journal of Insect Conservation (2003-2009); he is the author/editor of more than 30 book titles published by CSIRO (7), OUP (8); CUP (3); Brill (2), CABI (1), NSW University Press, and 6 books with Springer: Insect Conservation, An Australian Perspective, Series Entomologica, Beetle Conservation, Insect Conservation and Islands, Butterfly Conservation in South-Eastern Australia: Progress and Prospects, In Considerable Variety: Introducing the Diversity of Australia's Insects, and Insect Conservation: Past, Present and Prospects.

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