Australia is home to 18 shorebird species year-round, as well as 37 migratory species. In intertidal habitats shorebirds often gather in large flocks to roost (rest) and preen.
Throughout the East Asian Australasian Flyway, roosting sites for migratory shorebirds are being impacted by coastal development, disturbance and sea-level rise, drastically reducing their fitness, their ability to migrate successfully and ultimately produce young. Artificial roosting sites can be created to help shorebirds in areas which where roost sites are limited.
To date, the construction of artificial shorebird roosts has involved significant earthworks and hydrological alteration to create permanent, static structures. These interventions are successful in creating suitable shorebird habitat but can come at significant costs, have undesired effects on surrounding habitats and are subject to rapid degradation, particularly in intertidal habitats.
Floating roost sites, whether natural or artificial, may form preferential high-tide roost sites for a number of reasons. They are generally consistent throughout the tide cycle and immune to climate change induced sea-level rise. In addition, they are resistant to terrestrial predators and vegetation colonisation and can be relocated on, or adjacent to tidal feeding areas.
BirdLife Australia are excited to announce a trial of artificial roosts modeled on floating, long-line oyster bags (LLOB) as a cheap, low-impact and adaptable alternative to traditional artificial roost construction for shorebirds.
As part of this floating roost trial, we will deploy 1,080 LLOB in coastal habitats in three sites in the East Asian Australasian Flyway. Trial roosts will be set up on the South East coast of Australia, and one in the Geum Estuary, Republic of Korea. We will be assessing the use of these roosts by birds, as well as the effects they have on the local ecology and microclimate.
If successful, floating roost sites may be deployed in degraded and threatened internationally significant shorebird habitat throughout the flyway.
For more information about the project, contact Chris Purnell at email@example.com or 03 9347 0233.