A pair of rainbow lorikeets inspect a bird box on the Gatton campus (photo: Emily Dayman)
A pair of rainbow lorikeets inspect a bird box on the Gatton campus (photo: Emily Dayman)
Birds from all over the Lockyer Valley have been checking into new homes at UQ’s Gatton campus.

The Property and Facilities Division and the Biodiversity Research Group are working together to install and monitor bird boxes on UQ campuses in a project that links field research with biodiversity enhancement.

Twenty-four boxes were strategically placed in three sub environments on the Gatton campus in late 2014 and another 24 boxes will be installed at UQ St Lucia in 2015.
Hollows in trees are prime areas required for cavity nesting birds to reproduce, but as the number of trees in built-up areas has declined, the number of appropriate nesting hollows has also declined. Invasive bird species, particularly the Indian myna, also compete for this prime real estate, adding to the scarcity of appropriate nesting space for natives.
This is where bird boxes are beneficial, as they act as artificial tree hollows and provide habitat for hollow-dwelling bird species to raise their young. The boxes are also proving useful to researchers.

The Biodiversity Research Group is using the bird boxes located at UQ and at other locations around South-East Queensland to investigate the interactions of native cavity-nesting birds with rival alien bird species. The research group is led by Associate Professor Salit Kark, an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow at UQ’s School of Biological Sciences and Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.

In addition to loss of appropriate nesting space, some species are facing competition for food and losing out to other native and non-native birds such as the Indian myna, noisy minor, magpie and kookaburra.

Associate Professor Kark’s research, funded by an ARC Discovery grant, is developing an understanding of the interactions between these multiple bird species with the aim of strengthening invasive species control mechanisms, to ensure the conservation and best management of native and threatened cavity-nesting species.

For more information on Professor Kark’s research, visit the Biodiversity Research Group website.

Pale-headed rosellas with eggs (above) and squirrel gliders (below) have been spotted in bird boxes on the Gatton campus. (photos: Andrew Rogers)

The research team is led by Associate Professor Kark (second from left)

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