Phone: (+61 8) 6488 5556
The effects of climate change and social interactions on population demographics in a cooperatively breeding bird
I will study long-term population dynamics in the Southern Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor), a bird species that breeds cooperatively in highly dominance-structured groups. The work I propose to do will contribute crucial and novel information to a newly emerging field of investigation – the study of susceptibility to extinction in cooperative or group-structured populations as a result of climate change. I plan to conduct field observations and experiments to determine the behavioural underpinnings of reproductive failure and group extinction, and I will examine the extent to which reproductive failure and extinction risk are exacerbated or moderated by climate change in the volatile landscapes in which this species occurs.
The work will provide important information regarding the population dynamics of cooperative species and the potential impact climate change may have on these species in regions predicted to become increasingly arid and hot. The findings will be directly relevant to species in many areas of Australia, which is (a) home to a high proportion of the world’s cooperatively breeding bird species and (b) one of the areas of the world predicted to be first affected by climate change. My research will provide valuable information on the consequences of small vs. large group size on reproductive success and extinction likelihood. It will also allow us to predict the effects of climate change on reproductive success and survival of individuals and groups within the population. Finally, it will determine the importance of vocal communication (information transfer) on group cohesion and persistence