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Location Australia, Western Australia
Central coordinates 115o 30.65' East  32o 0.44' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 1,859 ha
Altitude 0 - 40m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports important breeding populations of the vulnerable Fairy Tern, more than 1% of the world non-breeding population of Banded Stilt on a regular basis, and regionally-important numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Red-necked Stint.

Site description The whole of Rottnest Island, a 11 kilometres long and 19 km off Perth, is taken as an IBA. Although the key IBA bird species only utilise the coast and lagoons, management of these habitats is best addressed at a whole-island scale. The island is comprised of limestone and sand, and dominated by low scrubby vegetation with several large permanent salt lakes. The six permanent salt lakes cover about 200 hectares or about 10 percent of the Island’s surface and ranging from two to seven metres in depth. There are also eight seasonally fresh to brackish ephemeral swamps, all of which have been heavily modified by mining, salinisation and eutrophication except for Barker Swamp. The island receives an average of about 800 mm annual rainfall. The whole island is a Class A Reserve for 'Recreation', managed by the Rottnest Island Authority; although the authority promotes and implements biodiversity conservation work, this is not a protected area under IUCN criteria. This reserve includes several smaller Islands and exposed rocks, which could qualify within the IBA is proved to support Fairy Terns, and about 3810 hectares of sea. The island is a popular day-trip from Perth and more than 500,000 people visit each year. As Red-necked Stints move between Rottnest and the Swan Estuary at Perth, a conservation area for this species could include the Swan Estuary.

Key Biodiversity One hundred and twelve species of bird have been recorded on or around Rottnest Island (Saunders & de Rebeira 1985, 1993). The island is a major breeding site for the congregatory Wedge-tailed Shearwater and its numbers are increasing: in 1993, four colonies were located at the western end of the island, comprising a total 5865 nesting burrows (Sims 1993), and in 2002, six colonies were located, comprising a total 11,745 nesting burrows (Bancroft et al. 2004). The island also supports notable numbers of the congregatory Red-necked Stint with counts of 438 in 1998, 1125 in 1999, 1504 in 2000, 1324 in 2001, 1380 in 2002, 958 in 2003, 978 in 2004, 791 in 2005, 1331 in 2006, 1207 in 2007 and 852 in 2008. The biome-restricted Rock Parrot is uncommon on the island (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: Rottnest Island supports two species of native mammal, seventeen species of reptile, three species of frog and at least 16 species of butterfly, 15 species of spider and 42 species of ant. The island supports the largest known population (estimated 8000-12,000 individuals) of the globally threatened Quokka (Setonyx brachyurus) (Rottnest Island Authority 2003).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus non-breeding  1998-2007  43-20,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Fairy Tern Sternula nereis resident  1950-2008  200 breeding pairs  good  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2008 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - trend unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Melaleuca forests & woodlands  major
Shrubland Acacia shrublands; Heath  major
Wetlands (inland) Saline lakes  minor

Land ownership Western Australian State Government with management the responsibility of the Rottnest Island Authority.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
tourism/recreation major
urban/industrial/transport major

Protection status None.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Andrew Burbidge for writing the nomination and Sue Mather for her assistance.

References Bancroft, W.J., Garkakalis, M.J. and Roberts, D.J. (2004) Continued expansion of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, nesting colonies on Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Emu 104: 79-82.

O'Connor, F. (2002) Observations. Western Australian Bird Notes 101: 2-5.

Rottnest Island Authority (2003) Rottnest Island management plan 2003-2008. Fremantle, Western Australia: Rottnest Island Authority.

Saunders, D. and de Rebeira, P. (1985) Turnover in breeding bird populations on Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Australian Wildlife Research 12: 467-477.

Saunders, D. and de Rebeira, P. (1993) The birdlife of Rottnest Island. Second revised edition. Guildford, Western Australia: Authors.

Sims, C.V. (1993) Aspects of the population ecology of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus pacificus, on Rottnest Island W.A.: a comparative study. B.Sc. (Honours) thesis. Perth: Murdoch University.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Rottnest Island. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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