Repurposing rain Radar to track waterbirds in a changing world

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


Many waterbirds are capable of travelling large distances and responding rapidly to changes in environmental conditions. The data required to understand processes at these scales pose significant challenges for ornithologists. This has led to the need for novel research approaches that integrate ecological knowledge with recent advances in technology. One such example, is the use of opertional weather surveillance radar (or weather radars) overseas to map the distribution and habitat use of waterbird populations. Despite having over 60 weather radars in Australia, some with decades of historical data, this method is currently not used to study bird movements. Weather radar could be particularly useful for mapping and tracking Australian waterbirds as many of these species form large flocks that move at regular or predicatable times. Here, I will discuss the potential of weather radar as a tool for mapping waterbird movement and distribution in Australia. I will present examples of different bird movement patterns I have found on the Darwin radar and discuss how we can ground-truth these patterns. Using weather radar, we will be able to find important habitat areas for Magpie Geese in the Top End as well as track seasonal variation in their behaviours and this same technique could be utilised for waterbirds throughout Australia.
Effective start/end date3/01/17 → …