SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 1:10 PM AEST
About 900 bird nests, some dating back to the late 1800s, are helping USC researchers gain rare insights into how birds interact with human materials – both dangerous and safe.
The study team, led by USC Animal Ecology lecturers Dr Dominique Potvin and Dr Kathy Townsend, is analysing museum nest specimens at the Melbourne Museum and CSIRO’s Australian National Wildlife Collection in Canberra.
“We don’t have time machines to go back over 100 years to figure out how long animals have been using debris for nest building – these historical nests give us that opportunity,” Dr Potvin said.
“The nests are essentially a snapshot of animal behaviours from generations of animals long gone and there are not many other studies that can claim to do this,” she said.
The research team, which includes visiting research student Fabiola Opitz of Germany, hopes to record geographical and historical patterns of human materials in nest building by birds.