Space Company To Sponsor Three-Year Native Bird Study In SA

Apr 22, 2022by Olivia - F&F

Two native Australian bird species — the endangered southern emu-wren, and the nankeen kestrel — will be the focus of a three-year research project in South Australia.

Nankeen KestrelNankeen Kestrel

Image: Patrick Kavanagh

SA Space Company & Flinders University Will Lead The Study

Two of Australia’s smallest bird species will be the focus of a three-year monitoring and assessment study in South Australia. The endangered southern emu-wren is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and the nankeen kestrel is Australia’s smallest raptor!

Both of these gorgeous bird species are found on the southern tip of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, which is also the home of the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex. This is why Southern Launch Space — a leading Australian space company — has announced $180,000 of funding for the new research led by two Flinders University PhD candidates, who are excited to study the behaviour of different sub species of emu-wrens.

Dr Diane Collombelli Négrel Professor Sonia KleindorferDr Diane Collombelli Négrel Professor Sonia Kleindorfer

Image: Flinders University

What Is The Purpose Of The Study?

Thanks to the generous sponsorship from Southern Launch, the new study will allow two PhD candidates from Flinders University’s College of Science and Engineering — to complete a three-year assessment of the two native bird species.

Their studies will be supervised by Flinders University’s Professor Sonia Kleindorfer and Dr Diane Colombelli-Négrel, and other avian experts in Europe and Australia. 

“These two projects will investigate the general ecology and population numbers of the birds, as well as their breeding success,” said Professor Kleindorfer, who has more than 30 years’ experience in native bird conservation. It’s hoped that the new knowledge gained over the three-year period will help in future conservation efforts, especially regarding the potential reproductive barriers with the southern emu-wren.

Whalers Way Orbital Launch ComplexWhalers Way Orbital Launch Complex

Image: Southern Launch

Why Is Southern Launch Funding The Native Bird Study?

Southern Launch is a space company based in Adelaide, South Australia. Their team of experts (basically, rocket scientists!) send satellites into space and help to design, build, test and fly the next generation of smart rocket vehicles. 

The operations of their two world-class launch complexes (one being the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex) are grounded in their Conservation Policy Statement and Biodiversity Management Strategy. Southern Launch are actively working to minimise their impact on the local environment, which is why they support Flinders University’s native bird study. 

Southern Launch aspires to be the leader in showing how the space industry can work in harmony with holistic conservation. 

Southern Emu WrenSouthern Emu Wren

Image: David Cook

Native Bird Species | Southern Emu-Wren & Nankeen Kestrel

So, why were these two native bird species chosen for the three-year monitoring and assessment study? Well, South Australia is the only state where the southern emu-wren is listed as endangered. This is mainly due to habitat loss, lack of food sources, and predation. Wildfires are a big threat, too — especially the disastrous fires on Kangaroo Island in 2020. 

Instead of flying, southern emu-wrens tend to hop like a mouse, which is why “the researchers will not be trapping, tagging or harming these southern emu-wrens,” said Dr Colombelli-Négrel. 

The nankeen kestrel, on the other hand, “was selected as a bio-indicator of the other raptor species in general,” she said. 

We love hearing about new conservation measures to protect native Australian species! Thanks to the fantastic PhD candidates from Flinders University, the findings of this study will allow us to understand the behavioural and reproductive patterns of these beautiful bird species.

To read about more amazing projects that are protecting native species, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

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These Biodegradable, ‘Flat-Pack’ Homes Are Helping Wildlife To Survive After Bushfires

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