Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

What can a database compiled over 22 years tell us about the use of different types of wetlands by waterfowl in south-eastern Australian summers?

Christopher G. Murray A F , Richard H. Loyn B , Sabine Kasel C , Graham Hepworth D , Kasey Stamation B and Andrew J. Hamilton E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Resource Management and Geography, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

B Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, PO Box 137, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

C Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Vic. 3121, Australia.

D Department of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

E Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Dookie Campus, Dookie College, Vic. 3647, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: murray.chris.g@gmail.com

Emu 112(3) 209-217 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU11070
Submitted: 1 September 2011  Accepted: 20 February 2012   Published: 28 June 2012

Abstract

Understanding the roles of different types of natural and artificial wetlands in providing habitat for waterbirds is crucial to active interventions to conserve wetland biodiversity. This study made use of a large database compiled over 22 years from the ‘Summer Waterfowl Count’ to determine the relative use of five wetland types by 18 species of waterfowl in Victoria, south-eastern Australia. The abundance of 14 species and density of 15 differed significantly (P < 0.05) according to wetland type. Waste stabilisation ponds supported significantly higher abundances and densities of many species, a greater number of species and a community structure that was markedly different from the other wetland types. Based on the findings of this study, we believe that the unique characteristics of each wetland type warrant the conservation of each. Moreover, waste stabilisation ponds are significant refugia for waterfowl in Victoria and the trend to modernise sewage treatment plants, to the detriment of waterfowl, should be approached with caution. It is suggested that these findings are probably applicable in other parts of the world, although further research is needed to confirm their universal application.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, conservation, ecology, waterbirds, wildlife management.


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