Infrared thermography for monitoring Plains-wanderers

Project: Research

Project Description

The Plains-wanderer has been identified as a Fighting Extinction Species in ZV’s Wildlife Conservation Master Plan, due its urgent conservation situation. Zoos Victoria have indicated a number of priority actions for the Plains-wanderer in its Wildlife Conservation Master Plan 2019-2024, including expanding the captive population, supporting population monitoring in the wild, surveying new locations and conducting a trial translocation. A robust monitoring method for detecting and monitoring Plains-wanderers in the wild is central to this program. The Plains-wanderers is a highly cryptic species, so obtaining accurate population estimates of the species can be challenging. Nocturnal monitoring is the main survey method for monitoring the population size of Plains-wanderers, and involves driving fixed transects through Plains-wanderer habitat in a slow-moving vehicle with roof-mounted floodlights and handheld spotlights to detect birds at night-time. Initial field trials of thermal cameras during nocturnal surveys for Plains-wanderers show promise for substantially improving the detectability of the species. Zoos Victoria understands the need for conservation practitioners to progress the development and application of new technologies, and to capitalise on opportunities available to us that support conservation actions. Infrared thermography (using thermal cameras) is a rapidly advancing technology, with recent research indicating the technology can be an effective and useful technique for nocturnal detection of birds (Mitchell W & Clarke R, 2019, Journal of Field Ornithology).ObjectivesThis grant will support student research (during 2019 and 2020) to evaluate the application of infrared thermography for nocturnal monitoring of Plains-wanderers. Student research will take place at Monash University, with R. Clarke as the primary supervisor and K. Selwood as co-supervisor. Specifically, the research will:-Conduct surveys for Plains-wanderers in northern Victoria using traditional (spotlighting only) nocturnal survey methods and nocturnal surveys that incorporate the use of vehicle-mounted thermal cameras (FLIR625).-Compare the efficacy of a) traditional nocturnal monitoring and b) the use of vehicle-mounted thermal cameras for detecting Plains-wanderers across a gradient of grassland cover-Describe any limitations or considerations for adopting thermal monitoring for Plains-wanderers.
Effective start/end date25/05/1930/06/20