Birders from around the world will descend on Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus in early July for the biennial Australasian Ornithological Conference.
More than 300 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, China, United States and Lithuania will attend the three-day conference and take part in birdwatching opportunities around the Top End before and after the official program.
CDU Research Associate and chair of the conference organising committee, Amanda Lilleyman said the interest in the Darwin event was phenomenal.
“We thought we might get 200 delegates because it’s not a cheap undertaking to come to Darwin during peak tourist season. To get more than 300 delegates is fantastic,” she said.
“We promoted the conference as the basis for a birdwatching trip of a lifetime by highlighting the unique bird species we have here, many of which are on birdwatchers’ bucket lists. All indications are delegates will do some birdwatching activities while they are here,” she said.
It’s estimated the conference will inject up to $1 million into the local economy as bird experts hear about the latest research and scientific techniques in ornithology.
Researchers from CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods will run three workshops in the lead-up to the conference and seven CDU researchers will present at the conference itself.
Ms Lilleyman said one particularly interesting symposia would focus on citizen science.
“Ornithology is a great vehicle for citizen science as there are birdwatchers around the world that can contribute to scientific knowledge. By habit, birdwatchers are good record keepers and often are meticulous in recording the type of information that can inform scientific studies,” Ms Lilleyman said.
“A lot of research would not be possible, or as detailed as it is, without relying on data from amateur birdwatchers. A discussion about how this data can be captured, stored and retrieved has the potential to benefit scientists around the world.”
The conference will also feature seven trade exhibitors promoting everything from bird tracking equipment like such as GPS tags to bird books and data science solutions.