Oral Presentation Australian Society for Limnology Congress 2013

A comparison of remote camera and on-ground detection methods for determining water bird species presence (#17)

Kelsie Redman 1 , Andrew Hall 2 , Skye Wassens 3 , Heather McGuiness 4
  1. School of Animal and Veterinary Science, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia
  2. Institute of Land, Water & Society, Charles Sturt University, Thurgoona, NSW, Australia
  3. School of Environmental Science, Charles Sturt University, Thurgoona, NSW, Australia
  4. Black Mountain Laboratories , CSIRO, Black Mountain, ACT, Australia

Monitoring waterbirds during environmental watering actions can provide important information on the success of watering actions as well as indicating vegetation and food source suitability. The three key methods that can be used to monitor waterbirds are aerial surveys, ground surveys and camera monitoring. A comparison of the potential for ground surveys and camera monitors to detect a range of waterbird species was carried out at three wetlands within the Western Lakes complex in the Lower Murrumbidgee floodplain.  Two replicate ground surveys (am and pm) were performed at each site in October and December 2012 (four surveys per site in total). Three camera monitors were established within each wetland taking two daily images for the period between September and November 2012 (approximately 160 images per site). Using both methods, a total of 41 waterbird species were detected and despite a smaller number of surveys, ground-surveys detected more than twice as many species as cameras, and had a higher probability of detecting species. When the time taken to establish and process camera images is taken into account ground surveys are more efficient when the aim is to establish species richness, abundance, or the presence of rare species then fixed cameras. However camera monitors may still be useful for monitoring rookery sites, and monitoring changes in species over a period.