I am leading a collaborative research project between Rio Tinto (Weipa), the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, the Queensland Department of Environment and Sciences, and the University of Queensland. Together, we are endeavouring to understand the conservation bio-geography of the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchus radiatus, an endemic Australian species undergoing rapid population decline and range loss. This striking bird of prey occupies the highest trophic levels in the food chain. It specialises in hunting live prey with medium to large sized birds constituting 95% of its diet. Our environmental 'canaries in the coal mine', birds of prey can be proxies for healthy ecosystems and biodiversity, or alternatively where they are absent, represent the loss or degradation of such values. The ongoing loss of the Red Goshawk is thus not only concerning for the individual species but the environments it once occupied.
The objectives of this research project are four-fold:
1. Review and quantify Red Goshawk population trends and geographic range over time
2. Determine their home range and environmental utilisation distributions (broad-scale tracking study)
3. Determine their movement ecology and behavioural modes/habitat associations (fine-scale tracking study)
4. Quantify nest productivity across Northern Australia over multiple years to assess the sustainability of recruitment levels
Whilst undertaking this research I am hoping to progress through to my PhD all the while contributing knowledge that will hopefully help secure this exceptional species.