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 is identifying the relative importance of the estuaries and adjacent mudflats in terms of food resources for shorebirds. This information is informing future water planning, environmental impact assessments, and migratory shorebird habitat protection and management.
This project is:
River flows in the Gulf of Carpentaria are critical for ensuring that food is available for migratory shorebirds on their way into and out of Australia. Professor Michele Burford has been leading collaborative research between Griffith University, the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and the Queensland Wader Study Group that has investigated the links between river flows and food for shorebirds.
Did you know Gulf of Carpentaria coasts are critically important habitat for migratory shorebirds? These birds fly to Australia from as far away as Alaska every year, and rely on the worms, crabs, clams and other food of the Gulf mudflats and sandflats to fatten up for their journey. This collaboration between Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and Griffith University is showing just how important the Gulf is for these long-distance fliers.
Mike Venarsky presents at the December 2018 DES (Qld) Workshop about the community-level migration patterns of fish in the Mitchell River and some of its tributaries.
David Crook discusses how otolith chemistry can help explain and document fish life history.
Glenn McGregor presents on how environmental assessments contribute to the evaluation of Water Plans in Queensland at a DES Workshop from December 2018.
Jonathan Marshall explains how paleo-ecological tracers can help understand past ecosystem variability to predict and manage now and into the future.
This project is being led by Professor Michele Burford at Griffith University. Professor Burford is being assisted by researchers from Griffith University and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
This project is due for completion in June 2021.
Michele Burford, Griffith University
(07) 3735 6723