Matt Fielding



I am an honours student within the School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Tasmania. I have completed research within the D.E.E.P lab since I undertook the undergraduate unit, Zoology Research Project, in semester two of 2016. In this unit, I investigated the effect of road kill on forest raven population density. I then continued this research when I received a Deans Summer Research Scholarship over the summer of 2016/2017. I found it stimulating and rewarding working on this research, and decided to continue with a similar topic into my honours, in which I am investigating the effect of synanthropic birds on other avian fauna in Tasmania. In my spare time, I enjoy playing music and bush-walking.


Research within D.E.E.P

Third Year Project & Dean’s Summer Research Scholarship; Is forest raven (Corvus tasmanicus) population density augmented by the availability of roadkill carcasses in Tasmania?

This project examined the spatial distribution of forest raven (Corvus tasmanicus) populations in Tasmania and investigated the potential augmentation of these populations by increases in roadkill density. I completed the data collection stage of the study in conjunction with fellow D.E.E.P member, Hanh Nguyen, who was examining roadkill density, which allowed me to investigate the relationship between roadkill density and forest raven occurrence more closely. I used one-dimensional point pattern analysis and logistic regression methods to analyse the data. The project is still being completed and therefore results are currently inconclusive. This research ignited a personal interest in synanthropic birds which lead into my current Honours project!


Forest Raven (Corvus tasmanicus) : © Alan Fletcher 2012

Honours Project – The effects of land use change on predatory bird species and potential future invasions in Tasmania

Supervisors: Barry Brook; Jessie Buettel

A synanthrope is a member of a wild species that benefits from interactions with humans and the artificial environments humans create. In this project, I will investigate the effect of synanthropic avian meso-predators, such as forest ravens, magpies, butcherbirds and currawongs, on other Tasmanian avian fauna (and potentially small mammals, reptiles and amphibians). Increased land-use change could supplement populations of these opportunistic predatory birds resulting in subsequent effects on both large birds (such as raptors) and small native songbirds. These effects include direct predation on individuals and their nestlings, loss of habitat and increased competition for food and other resources. Potentially affected bird species include iconic species, such as the threatened wedge-tailed eagle, and a range of Tasmanian endemics, such as the Tasmanian thornbill and forty-spotted pardalote.

The study also aims to investigate the potential invasion of further opportunistic predatory birds, such as the little raven and Australian raven, from south-eastern Australia to Tasmania. On the Australian mainland, these species fill a similar role as the forest raven in Tasmania and also benefit from anthropogenic land-use change. As climatic conditions change these species may be able to migrate and establish in Tasmania, potentially placing further pressure on Tasmania’s native fauna. This project will involve completing native animal surveys in areas where the population density of predatory birds varies, as well as using historical data sets with distribution and population modelling. The use of modelling will allow us to make inferences on the possible consequences of an increasing population of opportunistic predatory birds, as well the outcomes of probable future invasions by other synanthropic avian predators. Insights resulting from this study can be used to reduce the negative effect of predatory birds on other native animals and will: a) be critical to the design and management of programs intended to conserve Tasmania’s native avian fauna, and b) provide advice for managing human-wildlife interactions under global change. A critical gap in knowledge exists on how tourism ventures interact with synanthropic species that are changing their distribution and abundance due to climate and land-use change. My results will inform ways that we can mitigate the potentially damaging ‘knock-on effects’ of these interactions to the environmental values that underpin authentic ecotourism experiences.


Black Currawong (Strepera fuliginosa): © Elizabeth Brownrigg 2016