Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours)
School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences
Baonza, Emily, Shorebird Populations on the Wollongong Open Coastline: An Evaluation of Occurrence Records, Species Richness and Key Threats, Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours), School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, 2023.
Shorebirds consistently serve as indicator species for measuring the extent of environmental change. As a consequence of the rapid shift in global climatic conditions and anthropogenic interference, long-term trends in shorebird populations demonstrate an alarming decline. Focusing in on the open coastline of Wollongong, NSW, there is a lack of up-to-date, comprehensive ecological information of shorebirds for use in the Wollongong City Council’s (WCC) upcoming Coastal Management Plan (CMP). This thesis aims to source the available occurrence records from citizen science databases eBird and Birdlife Australia, as well as the BioNet Atlas database to produce an inventory of shorebirds within the Wollongong LGA and open coastline. Field studies of dog visitation are conducted to quantify the efficacy of dog access zones within the Wollongong LGA, coupled with human visitation data to examine these key threats to shorebirds alongside the growing human population. Additionally, an assessment of the potential for citizen science data to be incorporated into the WCC’s CMP is explored. The key findings suggest that there is a wide diversity of 40 species of shorebird present in the LGA’s record with variable degrees of spatial and temporal extent, and 18 species recorded on the coastline, correlated strongly with user effort and spatial accessibility. Field studies of dog visitation concluded that off-leash and no-dog access zones are reflected in the counts of dogs on these beaches, but that timedon leash zones have a high rate of non-compliant behaviours with a leashing rate of 33%. A combination of physical protective measures, like fencing and mesh caging, in conjunction with signage indicating both the location of beach-nesting shorebird nests and the severe impact of off-leash dogs, an increase in nest count and chick survival can be achieved. Further, through the integration of citizen science data using model-based analysis specifically designed for citizen science, expert involvement for quality control, and engagement with the birding community through incentive, training and birdwatching event organisation, a wider scope of ecological surveying of shorebirds in the Wollongong LGA’s CMP can be effectively achieved. By compiling available ecological data, assessing threats, and proposing strategies for citizen science integration, this study contributes a foundational insight for the conservation and management of shorebirds within the WCC’s CMP.
FoR codes (2020)
310307 Population ecology
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.