Save the Gouldian Fund – Our Science Program rebuilds!
STGF exists to invest in research which will help to stabilise and recover the wild population of the Gouldian finch. Over the first ten years, much of our science was led by Dr Sarah Pryke. Great insights into the causes of the Gouldian decline and details of its breeding biology were produced – see the ‘First 10 years” summary on the STGF Website (www.savethegouldian.net).
We are now planning the next 10 years of research and re-establishing a comprehensive research program to continue filling the gaps in knowledge.
Below are some current activities in the STGF Science program. In coming weeks we will provide an overview of each project – why it is important, where it is up to and what the impacts might be.
- Refurbishment of the STGF Nestbox network – research has shown the benefit of artificial nestboxes for Gouldian recovery. Some 2500 boxes now in place – but maintaining this infrastructure is a priority. Significant funding needed, but not yet successfully obtained.
- Movement ecology of granivores: informing fire management of savannas. This is a major new project with considerable STGF investment and led by Charles Darwin University. It’s about understanding where, how far and why Gouldians move in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. We know they can move great distrances, but how often does this happen? This knowledge is critical for finch conservation and the project will plug some real gaps.
- Genetics of Gouldians – we have invested in work by Dr. Peri Bolton from Macquarie University to finalise sequencing of DNA samples across northern populations of Gouldians to better understand connectivity.
- Nutritional studies 1. Measuring the health and reproductive impacts of MicroNutrient supplements in aviculture. STGF research produced three supplements which are now marketed in aviculture by Naturally for Birds Pty Ltd. This project is yet to commence with Macquarie University, but will explore the impacts on health and performance of captive finches.
- Analysis of the STGF waterhole count data – value from citizen science. A partnership with University of Queensland to analyse our waterhole count data for Gouldians derived from several years of counts (2008 – 2013) around Wyndham. Formal waterhole counts recommenced in 2018, with volunteers conducting much of the work.
- Provision of the STGF Research Facility at Wyndham for University research groups. STGF has fitted out a great research building at Wyndham to provide accommodation and basic storage and lab to support broader bird related research in Northern Australia, but with finches and other granivores as a focus. University groups are able to utilise this very cost effective facility.
- Genomics of the Black-throated finch – comparisons of current and past populations. This is a new direction for STGF. Our commitment is to finch conservation with the Gouldian Finch as the flagship species. BUT the Black-throated finch is also in desperate trouble. This project will help.
The work is all made possible by donations to STGF, within Australia and globally and from profits of Naturally for Birds Pty Ltd. You can help by donating through the STGF Website www.savethegouldian.net or if you are a bird breeder by using the Naturally for Birds supplements through www.naturallyforbirds.com.au.
For further information contact: Dr Gary Fitt, Chairman, Save the Gouldian Fund, 0429 457615