Development spells bad news for mangrove birds 

CDU PhD candidate, Mohd-Azlan surveys a mangrove robin nest and eggs.

Development around Darwin’s mangrove regions is having an adverse affect on mangrove bird populations, according to research by a Charles Darwin University PhD candidate.

A lecturer in conservation biology at the University Malaysia Sarawak, Mohd-Azlan Jayasilan has been at CDU since April 2007. His PhD research investigates bird species composition within 13 mangrove patches around Darwin to try to answer the fundamental ecological questions relating to the driving factor of bird species composition in the mangroves.

“We have found that the habitats surrounding the mangrove patches are important in maintaining a maximum number of birds in the mangroves,” he said.

“When urban development is encroaching all the way up to the mangrove edges and this would certainly have adverse effects of bird assemblages including the mangrove dependent species.”

Azlan has also found that the size of the mangrove patches was important in maintaining a high number of mangrove-dependent bird species and various other species from nearby forests, which frequently use mangroves for breeding and foraging.

“Mangroves can potentially be a cornerstone habitat for bird communities in urban and per-urban areas in the Darwin region,” he said.

“We are now investigating if the intrinsic habitat values of the mangrove patches have any influence on the bird assemblage.”

Azlan said he chose to undertake his research in Darwin as CDU had the relevant strength and expertise in the subject, including community ecology modelling.

He said his research in Darwin should enable him to provide new insights into management and conservation of wildlife in Malaysia and Borneo as well.