Birdata supports threatened bird conservation research in Murray-Darling Basin

Water extraction and regulation has substantially altered the freshwater and riparian ecosystems of Australia’s largest river system, the Murray– Darling Basin. The degradation of wetland and floodplain ecosystems has caused declines in many native plant and animal species. Many threatened birds, including waterbird and terrestrial birds, rely on wetland and floodplain habitats for parts of their life-cycles, and so the management of these systems has important ramifications for the viability of these species.

As part of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub programme, University of Melbourne researcher Rowan Mott is working on Project 4.4.1 : Threatened bird conservation in Murray-Darling Basin wetland and floodplain habitat. This project aims to provide a better understanding of which locations in Murray–Darling Basin wetland and floodplain habitat are most important for threatened bird species. This will be valuable for taking advantage of the opportunities presented through environmental water management, Ramsar listing of wetlands, creation of new national parks on the Murray Darling Basin floodplains, and the other environmental restoration activities in the region.

This project aims to identify priority wetlands and floodplain habitats in the Murray-Darling Basin, where conservation efforts could be concentrated for the benefit of both threatened native birds. It may further inform the assessment of other wetlands for Ramsar listing as well as priorities for managing river red gum park systems in Victoria and New South Wales and the use of environmental water.

Sunset over Winton Swamp 9480 lr.jpg

The project needs a lot of data as spatial distribution modelling is a very data hungry process – and this is where Birdata came in: we provided detailed distribution data on three EPBC-listed wetland species (Australasian Bittern, Australian Painted Snipe and Curlew Sandpiper) as well as a further 105 terrestrial bird species associated with the basin’s woodland habitat. The vast majority of this dataset came from regular shorebird and wetland counts, fixed monitoring sites and general birding records, largely collected by citizen scientists. We are looking forward to the research project results!


Joris Driessen | BirdLife Monitoring Program Coordinator