Improving habitat for waterbirds
The Coorong is a critical wetland for waterbirds and has regularly provided important breeding, feeding and refuge habitats for more than 100,000 birds each summer. Some waterbird populations are currently experiencing declines at an international or national level, however there is growing evidence that many species are declining at faster rates in the Coorong in response to poor habitat condition and low food availability.
What we are doing
Scientists have been investigating options to increase the availability and quality of wetlands to provide greater food resources to support waterbird populations.
An expert multi-disciplinary team of leading ecologists has been established to address this complex issue, including leading Australian ornithologists, limnologists, modellers and statisticians.
The research team will combine new information regarding food resources (from the foodwebs investigations) with measures of habitat quality to develop ‘waterbird response models’.
These models will be used to forecast how waterbirds will respond to changes in habitat conditions and management interventions. The models will be supported by field data collected through a collaboration with BirdLife Australia.
This information will provide targeted evidence to inform short and long-term management interventions currently being investigated for the Coorong and surrounding wetlands to support habitat for waterbirds.
What we have done so far
Key developments and findings from investigations include:
- Management of the constructed Tolderol wetlands provides abundant food resources for the shallow wading habitats that constitute quality feeding habitat for waterbirds, including migratory shorebirds.
- The identification of wetlands in the Lower Lakes and Upper South-East that could be managed in coordination with the Coorong, to provide further habitat for waterbirds and improve waterbird populations within the Coorong.
- Review of the ecology, status and modelling of waterbird populations of the Coorong South Lagoon
- Assessment of Tolderol Game Reserve in autumn 2019 to support key species of Coorong waterbirds
- An initial assessment of the potential for wetlands in the South East and Lower Lakes regions of South Australia to support key species of Coorong waterbirds
- Response models for key waterbird species of the Coorong
- Recommended habitat quality measures for key waterbird species in the Coorong
- Response models for waterbird species of the south-east of South Australia
- Spatial and temporal habitat use by key waterbird species in the Coorong