Migratory shorebirds are present in vast numbers along the Gulf of Carpentaria’s south-east coastline, especially from September to April. These shallow and productive tidal environments are important resting and feeding areas, as well as staging areas for birds that fly north or south. The critically endangered Great Knot and Far Eastern Curlew are among the many migratory bird species using the Gulf coast, and food and rest are vital to their continued survival. The south-east Gulf’s significance for shorebirds has been recognised through its inclusion as a site in the international East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network.
Rivers flowing into the Gulf deliver freshwater, sediments and nutrients to estuaries and nearby coastal areas, nourishing the mudflats where shorebirds rest and forage for shellfish, crustaceans and worms. Developments that use significant water or changes in climate that alter river flows may therefore impact the survival of the shorebirds.
This project aims to quantify and compare the shorebird food resources produced by three Gulf river systems that flow alteration may affect – the Flinders, Gilbert and Mitchell Rivers. It will identify the relative importance of the estuaries and adjacent mudflats in terms of food resources for shorebirds. This information will inform future water planning, environmental impact assessments, and migratory shorebird habitat protection and management.
This project will:
This project is being led by Professor Michele Burford at Griffith University. Professor Burford will be assisted by researchers from Griffith University and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
Michele Burford, Griffith University
(07) 3735 6723