Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD)

Dieback is a condition that begins on the leaves and spreads to the branches, which can lead to tree death. In the case of BMAD, sap-feeding parasitic insects feed on eucalypt leaves and their protective sugary coating known as lerp, is fed upon by the bell miner.

Bell miners are a natural part of eucalypt forests, and they normally have a minor (and positive) impact on forests. However, bell miner populations have increased in size in some areas, and the birds have become more widely distributed.

Research now suggests that bell miners are increasing their habitat due to an increase in forest structure availability, particularly areas with a thick understorey of any plant species and a canopy containing eucalypts. The removal of weedy understories has led to the relocation of some colonies on a property in Creek’s Bend near Kyogle NSW but not in others.

Long term monitoring is now required to monitor the treatment of weedy understories containing plants such as Lantana camara using glyphosate and fire or a combination of both to restore schlerophyll forests to native species. This monitoring is also required to determine the influence of restoration on the presence of bell miners and other fauna species, positively or negatively.