Inland researcher studies itchy seabirds

26 FEBRUARY 2008

A Charles Sturt University (CSU) PhD student is examining whether parasites are more than an itchy nuisance for seabirds on two islands off the Australian east coast. Ms Margaret Watson, from the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the CSU Wagga Wagga Campus in inland NSW, will study Crested Terns colonies at ‘The Nobbies’ at Philip Island in Victoria and Montague Island off the NSW south coast. Her study will examine how Crested Tern numbers are being regulated by parasites such as lice and ticks. The research will also look at whether the parasites are being transmitted by Blue Penguins and Silver Gulls, which also inhabit the islands, as well as lizards and colonies of three species of Shearwater seabirds on Montague Island. Ms Watson, who received an Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS) PhD scholarship under its Environmental Assets Integration Program, says “It’s just wonderful to be working on islands in the middle of the ocean and to get to visit places you wouldn’t normally be able to.”

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