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New Paper: Increasing water-use efficiency in rice fields threatens an endangered waterbird

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We’re delighted to share this new paper, albeit about a sustainability trade-off in rice farming, where saving water undermines successful bittern breeding. It’s free to download on this link for 50 days:

Herring, M.W., Robinson, W., Zander, K.K., Garnett, S.T., 2021. Increasing water-use efficiency in rice fields threatens an endangered waterbird. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment. 322, 107638.

We developed a simple predictive model to identify successful breeding opportunities for the Australasian bittern, helping guide incentives for bittern-friendly rice, and showing how water can be managed for multiple benefits. We found rice fields with ponding by early November, for 149+ days, were best for positive breeding outcomes. We discuss this and other recommendations like adjacent refuges and dedicated patches to fast-track nesting. The Australasian bittern is a wetland enigma, master of stealth and globally endangered, with only about 2000 remaining. Finding nests is a serious challenge so we’re particularly thrilled to have the first in-depth, field-based breeding study published this week.
Huge thanks to all the rice farmers who made the study possible, and to everyone involved in the Bitterns in Rice Project since 2012, especially Neil Bull, Mark Robb, Andrew Silcocks and Anna Wilson. Many organisations have contributed but special credit goes to the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, Birdlife Australia, Riverina Local Land Services, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, Charles Darwin University and Murray Wildlife.

Bittern Conservation Summit: Feb. 1-4, 2022

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We’re very pleased to announce this special event, where birdwatchers, farmers, scientists, wetland managers and all those that share a love for the iconic Australasian bittern will come together to advance its conservation. There will be presentations about wetland management and restoration, targeted environmental water delivery, bittern-friendly rice and the latest research and monitoring methods. There will also be a range of tours to the Riverina’s best bittern sites, where you are guaranteed to see this elusive bird. We’ve already secured some great speakers, so pencil in the dates and we’ll see you there! Thanks to Riverina Local Land Services and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program for making it all possible. To register your interest and sign up for updates, click here.

***Feb 1-4, 2022 in Leeton, NSW***

 

 

 

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