Mapping the secret lives of black swans

May 11 / 60

Credit: Catherine Payne
Credit: Catherine Payne

The University community and the public are joining forces with the Department of Zoology to learn more about the behaviour of black swans. 

A new website designed by Associate Professor Raoul Mulder from the Department of Zoology, http://www.myswan.org.au/ , encourages the community to engage in wildlife research by submitting sightings of tagged swans.

Dr Mulder said the huge public interest in black swans was highlighted recently by the concern people showed for a male swan widowed in a stoning incident at Moonee Ponds in April.

“People have taken huge interest in the wellbeing of the lone male swan, which shows there are many people out there who want to help wildlife,” Dr Mulder said. 

“We have come up with a way people can contribute to our research.”

He said swans were nomadic and travelled huge distances every year.  

“Researchers don’t understand why and where they move, because it’s very difficult for the small research team to monitor more than 250 wild swans.

“With the help of millions of pairs of eyes across Australia, we hope to collect valuable data on their whereabouts.” 

During the past six years, members of the research team have fitted more than 200 swans at Albert Park Lake with special wildlife tags - numbered neck collars which allow people to identify individual birds from a distance and track their histories, movement and fate.

“By submitting a sighting of a tagged bird, people are contributing valuable information which tells us about individual movement patterns and survival rates, and will ultimately contribute to species protection efforts,” Dr Mulder said.

“People who submit a sighting are provided with an instant profile of the bird they saw, with information on its age, who its partner is and its favourite spots to spend time.

“The community, as well as our research team, are starting to learn more and more about these animals.”

The University community can access the MySwan website and record sightings at http://www.myswan.org.au/. 

 

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