PHOTO: ALECIA SMITH
Claire is a marine ecologist and ornithologist with a passion for coastal birds, particularly terns. She has a Bachelor of Science with first class Honors, majoring in Conservation Wildlife Biology and Marine Science and has a strong interest in trophic ecology animal behavior, and research with a strong applied focus to biological conservation.
Claire is currently undertaking a PhD project exploring the life-history, behavior and feeding ecology of the Fairy Terns in south-western Australia with the overarching view of understanding colony formation processes and informing policy and conservation efforts for this threatened (Vulnerable) species.
As conveyor of the Western Australian Fairy Tern Network (CCWA), Claire engages directly with land managers, government and non-government organizations, and citizen scientists to coordinate on-ground management to improve outcomes for breeding colonies.
THE SECRET LIFE OF FAIRY TERNS
As a typically beach-nesting bird, Fairy Terns face numerous threats during their breeding season, and many of their former nesting habitats are no longer available. Populations in eastern Australia have declined considerably in recent decades and the New Zealand sub-species has been reduced to ~9 breeding pairs, highlighting an urgent need for research and conservation effort.
Claire will be speaking about the challenges Fairy Terns face, some of her research findings, and the work that is being undertaken to ensure that populations remain secure within Western Australia. In time, she hopes her work can be used to help the recovery of populations elsewhere in Australia and overseas.