The alternative title for this post is “Edin does the science”. I’ve written a few posts about my Master’s project over the course of this year which you can read here and here. Now I can share some preliminary results! This was the poster I presented at the Australasian Ornithological Conference in Geelong in early November, which was a fantastic three days of quality bird science talks. For those of you who come here for the photos, there’s no shortage of them on the poster! As well as being an amazing field assistant, Dad has been documenting my fieldwork this year, a story that we’ll share once it’s complete.
If it’s all too many words, I’ve condensed the poster into a one-sentence explanation below, as well as answering a few of the questions I got during the poster sessions.
Basically – Grey-faced petrels show no change in blood indicators of health across their lifespan.
Is that a good thing?
Yes, it is! It’s very useful, because often we have no idea what age these birds are. Past fledging, it’s extraordinarily difficult, even impossible, to accurately age a petrel. If there was a change in their haematology across their lifespan, it would seriously hinder using these measures to assess population health to monitor whole colonies of birds. Because there is little change, age won’t confound our results where we don’t know the ages of the birds. This is great for another part of my research, which is comparing these parameters between different colonies.
What does it mean?
All the birds in this study were breeding birds. So what I think my results mean is that there’s a level of fitness that the birds need to maintain to be able to breed. It’s one thing to be fit enough to survive, but it’s another to be fit enough to go through the process of producing and raising a chick. I’d like to compare breeding and non-breeding Grey-faced petrels (which would have to be done earlier in the season, as non-breeders don’t hang around if they don’t have eggs to incubate), to see if there are any differences between them.
If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below!