ILWS PhD Candidate
Investigating the effects of rodent eradication on the threatened Lord Howe currawong.
Dr Melanie Massaro (principal supervisor), spatial scientist Dr Rachel Whitsed and Nicholas Carlile, Acting Principal Scientist, Science Division, NSW OEH.
Richard, who is originally from Western Australia, commenced his PhD as an ILWS PhD scholarship recipient in March 2018. He did his under-graduate studies and Honours in environmental science at Murdoch University, before continuing his studies at Murdoch’s Marine and Freshwater Research Laboratory for five years. He then completed a PhD in 2005 at the University of Western Australia studying the ecology and nutrient dynamics of solar salt fields at Shark Bay. He then moved to Rockhampton, Queensland, to work for a salt company, Cheetham Salt Ltd, as a salt field technologist for nine years.
Being made redundant in 2014 gave him the chance to change careers and follow his interest in ornithology. In 2017 the opportunity to undertake a PhD in Ornithology arose when Dr Melanie Massaro was looking for a student to investigate the effects of the rodent eradication on the threatened Lord Howe currawong.
The Science Division of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the Lord Howe Island Board (LHIB) are implementing a rodent eradication in June 2019. While the rodent eradication is expected to benefit many nesting seabirds on the Island, there is concern about how the eradication will impact terrestrial birds, such as threatened Lord Howe currawong. The Lord Howe currawong, is a threatened sub-species of the mainland population of currawongs, and is only found on the Island. It is estimated that there are only about 250 birds left.
Richard commenced his pre-eradication data collection on a field trip with Dr Melanie Massaro to Lord Howe Island in November 2017.
The aim of his study is to investigate how the rodent eradication on Lord Howe Island during the 2019 winter will impact the Lord Howe currawong, its diet and how a dietary shift by currawongs may influence the breeding success of white terns- the currawong
is a known predator of white tern offspring- and the dispersal of invasive plants.
His research is supported by the project What are the effects of rodent eradication on the threatened Lord Howe currawong and its diet? Massaro,M., Whitsed,R., & Segal,R. (PhD student) (2018-20121) Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, $36,240.
Bachelor Environmental Science Murdoch University
Honours Murdoch University
PhD University of Western Australia 2005
Graduate Diploma in Ornithology Charles Sturt University
Research Theme (s)