Charles Sturt research receives generous donation to continue work to improve wetlands

2 OCTOBER 2020

Charles Sturt research receives generous donation to continue work to improve wetlands

Charles Sturt research team receives $400,000 from private donors to detect and monitor wetland bird species to inform conservation management.

  • Charles Sturt project receives $400,000 from private donors
  • The project is ‘Eavesdropping on wetland birds’ by Charles Sturt’s Professor David Watson and Dr Elizabeth Znidersic
  • The research will use time and location data to detect and monitor wetland bird species

A generous donation of $400,000 has ensured the continuation of a Charles Sturt University project to eavesdrop on wetland birds to determine how they contribute to improving wetland health.

The private donation was made to support the research of Professor in Ecology in the School of Environmental Sciences in Albury-Wodonga and Institute for Land, Water and Society member, Professor David Watson.

The donation will support Professor Watson and his team of post-doctoral researchers, Dr Michael Towsey and fellow ILWS member Dr Elizabeth Znidersic, to investigate the distribution of wetland birds using innovative technology to inform conservation management.

“This generous donation is a testament to the world-class ornithology program we have at Charles Sturt University, and we cannot thank our donors enough for their contribution,” Professor Watson said.

“While our post-graduate courses are well-known, we also have a team of dedicated research scientists working on a range of pure and applied projects across the globe.

“Not only will this donation generate significant knowledge in this field, it is a wonderful example of how selfless individuals can have an impact on the world we live in.”

Dr Znidersic completed her PhD at Charles Sturt University in 2019 and Dr Watson said the donation allows her to maintain momentum and use her expertise to make a difference to wildlife management.

Wetland birds are sensitive indicators of wetland health, but little is known about their distribution, population status, or ecology, due to their secretive behaviour.

Observation equipmentThis project aims to use acoustic monitoring technology to detect wetland bird species in south-eastern Australia and Tasmania, and monitor their diversity and breeding events through the timing and frequency of the noises they make.

The objectives of this project include: to better understand the distribution of wetland bird species in eastern Australia; trial large-scale deployment of acoustic sensors with manual data collection; and determine the presence or absence of bird species.

Engaging the community through live-streaming acoustic data collection with Birdlife Australia and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the United States is also part of the intended outcomes.

“This project builds on my lab’s previous work using sound to monitor the health of wildlife populations; this includes the Australian Acoustic Observatory, a continental-scale array of acoustic recording units we’ve deployed to take the pulse of the Australian environment,” Professor Watson said.

The generous $400,000 donation will have a significant impact on research in this area but more is required to ensure the ongoing health of our wetlands.

To enquire about how to donate to the project and make a difference to the world we live in, contact Charles Sturt Development Officer – Fundraising Mr Brogan Finnerty at 

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor David Watson, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or

Photo captions: (Image 1) Professor David Watson in the field and (image 2) equipment used to survey wetland birds.

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Albury-Wodonga Charles Sturt University ILWS Research