My Projects

Saving Our Swift Parrots

The objective of this 10 year Saving Our Species conservation project (2016-2026) is to
improve long term viability of the critically endangered Swift Parrot population in New South Wales, as well as a diversity of co-occurring threatened woodland species.  We aim to achieve this by identifying priority sites, empowering established community networks and land managers to implement habitat rehabilitation and restoration works at these sites, and securing their long term management, monitoring and protection. We will also contribute to the ongoing state-wide volunteer survey coordination for monitoring swift parrots and regent honeyeaters, and identify future state-wide habitat management requirements for swift parrots under climate change to enable long-term adaptive management for this dynamic migratory species.  The project will be implemented across a diversity of tenures within two priority regions of NSW (south west slopes and central coast), where swift parrots have been repeatedly recorded over the past 18 years.  This includes essential refuge habitat on the central coast that is used by a large proportion of the population during severe and widespread drought.
Photo: White Box habitat ©D. Saunders. TallWhiteBox_Saunders

Conserving small dynamic migratory birds

The aim of our Australian Research Council Linkage Project with international partner Loro Parque Fundación working together with ANU and the University of Sydney, was to provide multi-scale insights into the breeding biology and migration ecology of the endangered swift parrot. We aim to shed new light on habitat requirements, reproductive success, mortality, disease prevalence and migratory movements of this small migrant that will enable optimal conservation strategies to be developed and more effective land management to be implemented.

Other project partners who generously contributed to this project include Bush Heritage Australia, CSIRO, Tasmanian Government DPIPWE, Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority, and Zoos South Australia.

Image result for loro parque fundacion anu_logoUSY_sigs2 arc_logobushheritage_logo   CSIRO Logo        

World’s first robotic wildlife radio-tracking drone

In order to better understand the movements of small animals that move dynamically through the environment or inhabit rugged or inaccessible terrain, I am working collaboratively with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics and Loro Parque Foundacion to adapt cutting-edge drone technologies for robotic aerial-tracking of small, radio-tagged wildlife.  By delving into the world of robotic drones, we endeavour to shed light on the movements of many species that have previously proved elusive due to the challenges of their variable movements across vast landscapes or their habitats that are difficult to access on the ground.

See the latest details in our recent publication in Robotics: Science and Systems as well as extensive media coverage around the globe.

WildBot launching
Launching the wildlife tracking drone

 National Swift Parrot Recovery Program

I have been an active member of the National Swift Parrot Recovery Team for 15 years.  Initially I was the recovery program coordinator and now I continue as an active team member conducting research into this species with an emphasis on it’s wintering habitat.  I work collaboratively with a variety of government, non-government and research organisations including BirdLife AustraliaAustralian National University, State Government Departments (Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and South Australia) and the Commonwealth Department of Environment.

My current projects involve conservation research on swift parrots throughout their winter range, examining their dynamic movements and habitat use in relation to current and future climates and inter-annually variable habitat resource availability.  The research program is specifically designed to meet key recovery actions specified in the National Recovery Plan for the Swift Parrot and improve conservation outcomes for this species.

Swifty in the hand
Swifty in the hand
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