720 ABC Perth, 21 March, 2014. By Sharon Kennedy
Studies by ECU show that banksia woodlands are critical for birds and plants in the south west.
Insect and nectar eating wrens are affected by dieback in banksia (Photo Davis: Rob Davis)
Dr Robert Davis says the researchers were astounded by the complete change in the bird community where dieback is prevalent.
Dieback, Phytophthora cinnamomi, is a soil borne pathogen which has been dubbed the biological bulldozer for its ability to wipe out plant species.
Jarrah and, particularly, banksia are susceptible. Currently, quarantine is the only effective method of control.
A lecturer in vertebrate biology, Dr Davis was drawn to the study of dieback in banksia in order to understand what was driving the disappearance of birds from the habitat.
"We have the world's only proteaceous woodlands that dominate our biota. It's a precious unique system that supports a whole host of nectar eating honey eaters."