What can we learn from untapped wildlife rescue databases? The masked lapwing as a case study

Graham H. Pyke*, Judit K. Szabo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Much untapped potential exists for research based on wildlife rescues and surveys by citizen scientists. Many vertebrate animals are injured or threatened with injury through human activities and warrant 'rescue', generally by volunteers. Faunal surveys, involving citizen scientists, yield complementary biologically relevant information. Research using these databases can indicate spatial and temporal patterns in abundance and risk of mishap, potentially informing management and conservation for threatened species. However, little research has utilised such databases, with few implications for conservation, leaving a wealth of available information. We used the masked lapwing (Vanellus miles), an Australian shorebird, to illustrate the research potential of a rescue database combined with bird survey data. This species nests and feeds on the ground, has flightless young dependent on parents for protection, and is commonly observed in urban and agricultural areas. Consequently, it is often recorded during bird surveys and is frequently rescued. Combining rescue information with abundance estimates from bird surveys should confirm or refine knowledge about abundance and reproductive biology, and indicate spatio-temporal patterns in the risks encountered. To evaluate these expectations, we obtained date, location and age for lapwings rescued by NSW Wildlife Information Research and Education Service during 2005-2013, and monthly reporting rates from New Atlas of Australian Birds during 1999-2010. Numbers of rescued lapwing chicks, juveniles and adults per month were consistent with the life cycle of this species, and risks from vehicles, pets and other human activities. Our results illustrate how research utilising rescue and fauna survey databases could inform management and conservation of threatened species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)148-156
    Number of pages9
    JournalPacific Conservation Biology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • bird surveys
    • citizen science
    • rehabilitation
    • release
    • rescue


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