Millions of Australia's migratory shorebirds are being pushed closer to extinction as the quality of their primary feeding grounds, or 'refuelling areas', in East Asia continue to decline.
New research has declared the main refuelling areas in the Yellow Sea at risk of total collapse as coastal development, widespread pollutants, dead zones, increasing jellyfish and algal blooms continue to affect the Yellow Sea's tidal flat ecosystem.
Apart from losing their main refuelling areas, shorebirds such as the threatened curlew, bar-tailed godwit and the great knot also risk running out of food in the remaining tidal flats, says Dr Richard Fuller of the National Environmental Research Program's Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP's EDH) and the University of Queensland (UQ).
Small Australian native birds are losing food and home to a growing flock of rivals, including native birds arriving from other states, invasive alien birds and those that thrive in urban areas, environmental scientists have warned.
In addition to targeting high profile pest birds such as the Indian myna, Australia should expand its lines of defence against a wide range of aggressive alien birds and native "urban exploiters", says Associate Professor Salit Kark of the National Environmental Research Program's Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP's EDH) and The University of Queensland.
ABOVE: Introduced cavity nesting birds (rose-ringed parakeets and Indian myna) today and 1,500 years ago in an ancient mosaic of the parakeet from the Mediterranean region (photos: Salit Kark (left and centre) & Assaf Shwartz, right).
City dwellers should visit parks more often and take advantage of this free and easy way to boost their physical and mental health, environmental scientists have urged. New research from the National Environmental Research Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP’s EDH) shows that despite the abundance of parks in Australian cities, only 60 per cent of the urban population are using these facilities in any week. This means that 40 per cent of us are missing out on the vast array of health benefits that parks offer, including a lower risk of developing heart disease, stress, anxiety and depression, says Dr Danielle Shanahan of NERP EDH and the University of Queensland (UQ).
Dr Richard Fuller of NERP EDH and UQ says that research worldwide continues to discover the health benefits of being in nature. “For example, spending ten minutes in a park every day – even when we’re not exercising in it – has been shown to lower our blood pressure.”
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Environmental scientists are working alongside park rangers to protect Christmas Island’s remaining reptilian wildlife from extinction.
As five of the island’s six native reptiles are threatened with extinction, researchers from the National Environmental Research Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP’s EDH) are investigating how the last species in the wild – the giant gecko – is managing to evade the same fate.
The evidence they gather will be used to protect the giant geckos as well as the critically endangered blue-tailed skinks and Lister’s geckos from feral cats, rats, yellow crazy ants, wolf snakes and centipedes, says lead researcher Ms Melissa Wynn of NERP EDH and The Australian National University (ANU)...read the FULL STORY
You can also read our article in Decision Point magazine, Issue 83.
Catastrophic recent declines in populations of the curlew sandpiper and eastern curlew (pictured) have resulted in their nomination for threatened status, based on work led by researchers at the NERP Environmental Decisions Hub.
“The curlew sandpiper and eastern curlew both migrate from Australia each year to Arctic Russia where they breed, stopping off in China, Korea and other East Asian countries to refuel along the way.
“These amazing migrations are among the most awe-inspiring journeys of the natural world, with birds covering tens of thousands of kilometres each year,” says Dr Richard Fuller. One bird, banded in Victoria, was next reported from Yakutyia in Siberia, 11,812 kms distant.
“However populations of these great travellers have crashed, with drops in numbers over the past 20 years of more than 75% for the curlew sandpiper, and 68% for the eastern curlew”, says Dr Fuller.
“This is a devastating loss for species that were once quite common.” ...read more
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Figures for habitat loss in the Yellow Sea are published at http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/130260
Visit the Fuller Lab: http://www.fullerlab.org
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Eastern Curlew (Photo by Dean Ingwersen)
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Eastern Curlew migration route
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Environmental scientists have urged Australians to rally to the rescue of endangered lungfish and other river wildlife by restoring catchments and river banks, especially in cities.
New research at the National Environmental Research Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP EDH) has found that climate change and urbanisation are putting a ‘double whammy’ on the nation’s freshwater wildlife – and identifies several ways the public and landholders can come to the rescue of imperilled species.
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Australian citizens are pitching in to help save the koala, one of our most iconic and vulnerable species, environmental scientists say.
By linking the public’s sightings of koalas with changes in the landscape and climate, scientists from the National Environmental Research Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP EDH) have quantified how many threats affect koala populations in New South Wales (NSW) and have identified the impact of these threats across the state.
Dr Jonathan Rhodes, of NERP EDH and UQ, says that this work underscores how important citizen-collected data can be to the nation’s efforts in saving its precious biodiversity: “If we had to rely only on our own field-based data, our information would have been very limited." ...read more
With a surge in visitors to Antarctica, Antarctica’s ice‐free land needs better protection from human activities, leading environmental scientists say.
Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and with more and more research facilities being built in the continent’s tiny ice‐free area, the ‘last wilderness on Earth’ is one of the planet’s least‐protected regions say NERP ED Hub scientists Dr Justine Shaw and Professor Hugh Possingham.