Overview of thesis
BirdLife Australia has identified the Southern Boobook as a speciesthat has suffered range-wide decreases in numbers across Australia since 1999and concluded that “further investigation is needed to understand the factorsthat are driving this consistent decline across regions.” From2015 to 2018 I will be studying the impacts of habitat fragmentation onSouthern Booboooks in Perth and surrounding areas. I’ll be looking at how different types ofhabitat fragmentation (urban and agricultural) impact Southern Boobooks. Understanding the threats facing boobooks andwhere these threats are most severe will help explain the ongoing decline inboobook populations and inform plans to reverse it.
What threats will I belooking at?
- Inbreeding – The isolation of Boobook’s woodland habitats by urban development and agriculture, may be making it difficult for birds to find new territories. This can lead to inbreeding, which can decrease survival and fertility. I plan to examine the genetics of urban, agricultural, and woodland populations to see if inbreeding is a problem for this species.
- Nest Hollow Loss – All boobooks need tree hollows for nesting and these may be greatly limiting. Small remnant woodlands lose trees with hollows faster than larger woodlands. Introduced bird species like Long-billed Corellas and overabundant species like Galahs benefit from human activities and are growing in numbers in urban and agricultural areas. They may be competing with boobooks and other hollow-nesting birds for scarce nesting sites. I will test whether providing artificial boobook nest boxes increases their numbers in areas where they are not present and examine what other species use these boxes and might be competing with boobooks.
- Anticoagulant Rodenticides (Rat Poison) – Some types of rat poison that use blood thinners to kill rodents, can travel up the food chain when poisoned rodents are eaten by predators. Stronger “second generation” anticoagulant rodenticides have been shown to affect predatory birds in North America and Europe. A number of countries have passed stricter laws on these substances, as a result. I plan to investigate whether traces of these substances are present in boobooks and whether the type of habitat they are using affects the amount and type of rat poison they are exposed to.
- Toxoplasmosis – Toxoplasmosis is a disease that affects both humans and wildlife. It is caused by the microorganism Toxoplasma gondii and is primarily spread by feral cats. Toxoplasmosis infection changes the brain chemistry of its hosts and can cause slight behavioural changes in both humans and animals. In humans it has been linked to higher risks of mental illnesses, risky behaviours, slowed reaction time, and car accidents. I want to find out how common this infection is in boobooks, whether it may increase their risk of getting hit by cars, and whether it is more common in boobooks living in habitats with more free-roaming cats.
- M.S. Wildlife Ecology, The University of Delaware, February 2009. Thesis title: Northern Bobwhite Winter Ecology in Southern New Jersey.
- B.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Science, The Pennsylvania State University, May 2005. Honours Thesis title: Use, care, and significance of the Pennsylvania State University avian specimen collection.
- Bird Conservation and Ecology, Introduced Species Management
Past Research employment history
- Department of Parks and Wildlife (formerly DEC) Research Scientist (May 2013 – May 2015) Creating and managing a database of weeds on offshore islands of Western Australia and preparing associated manuscripts for publication. Assisting in additional projects including: a feral cat and dingo camera trap and telemetry study at Lorna Glen; rodent eradication planning for Adele Island; and bird and introduced plant surveys on islands in the Pilbara region.
- Pacific Rim Conservation Avian Ecologist (January 2011 – December 2012) – conducting predator control and monitoring of O‘ahu ‘Elepaio (an endangered monarch flycatcher) at Wailupe Valley, assisting in eradication of introduced mammals at Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve, conducting research on seabirds at Ka‘ena Point, conducting surveys for O‘ahu ‘Elepaio throughout the Ko‘olau mountain range, conducting predator control at the Freeman Seabird Preserve, assisting in endangered seabird surveys at several sites on Maui, monitoring for endangered seabirds during wind turbine construction, data entry and management, writing reports and manuscripts for publication.
- Pono Pacific Biosciences Technician (July 2010 – December 2010) – assisting in conservation and natural resources management at Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i including: seabird and endangered waterbird monitoring, invasive vegetation management, GIS analysis, and predator control.
- Pono Pacific Field Crew Leader (December 2009-July 2010)– hiring, training, and supervising field technicians for three separate predator control projects; conducting rodent control via diphacinone bait stations and snap traps to protect nesting ‘elepaio; monitoring ‘elepaio nest success; data entry and statistical analysis for monthly reports to US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); invasive plant management and predator control at three Navy sites.
- Pono Pacific Predator Control Technician – trapping mongooses, feral cats, and bullfrogs; maintaining rodenticide bait stations; data entry and statistical analysis for monthly reports to USFWS; occasionally assisting with Himalayan blackberry and European holly control at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. (January 2009-December 2009)
- University of Southern Mississippi Field Technician – passerine mist netting and colour band resighting in Utila, Honduras. (August-November 2005)
- Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences Field Technician – shorebird counts, disturbance monitoring, colour mark re-sighting, data entry and statistical analysis. (May-June 2005)
- Conservation Resource Enhancement Project Field Technician – distance sampling, nest searching, and vegetation measurements of grassland bird species. (Summer 2003 and 2004)
Scholarships and Awards
- May 2017 – AUD 1,000 – Grant: ECU School of Science, Postgraduate Student Support Award
- November 2016 – AUD 7,500 – Grant: Equity Trustees Charitable Foundation, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
- August 2016 – Award: ECU Vice-Chancellor’s Student Engagement Award, Special Commendation
- June 2016 – AUD 3,500 – Grant: Birdlife Australia, Stuart Leslie Bird Research Award
- June 2016 – AUD 1,000 – Grant: ECU School of Science, Postgraduate Student Support Award
- November 2015 – AUD 6,500 – Grant: Equity Trustees Charitable Foundation, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
- February 2015 – Scholarship: Australian Postgraduate Award
- Lohr, M. T., C. A. Lohr, G. Keighery, and V. Long. (2016). The status and distribution of non-native plants on the gazetted and territorial islands off the north coast of Western Australia. Conservation Science Western Australia. In Press.
- Lohr, M. T. and G. Keighery. (2016). Quercus (Fagaceae) in Western Australia. The Western Australian Naturalist. In Press
- Lohr, M.T. and Keighery, G. (2016). The status and distribution of naturalised alien plants on the islands of the west coast of Western Australia. Conservation Science Western Australia 10:1.
- Lohr, M. and C. Lohr. (2016). Weeds on Western Australia’s Islands: A historical database with records spanning from 1913 to 2014. (Dataset). AEKOS.
- Lohr, C., Passeretto, K., Lohr, M., & Keighery, G. (2015). Prioritising weed management activities in a data deficient environment: the Pilbara islands, Western Australia. Heliyon. 1(4), e00044.
- Marie, A., E. A. VanderWerf, L. C. Young, D. G. Smith, J. Eijzenga,and M. T. Lohr. 2014. Response of Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) to Eradication of Black Rats (Rattus rattus) from Moku‘auia Island after Reinvasion. Pacific Science. 68 (4): 547–553. In Press.
- Lohr, M. T. and G. J. Keighery. 2014. The status and distribution of alien plants on the islands of the south coast of Western Australia. Conservation Science Western Australia. 9(2): 181–200. In Press
- VanderWerf, E. A., M. T. Lohr, A. J. Titmus., P.E. Taylor, and M. D. Burt. Current Distribution and Abundance of the O‘ahu ‘Elepaio (Chasiempis ibidis). 2013. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 125(3): 600-608.
- Young, L., E.A. VanderWerf, M.T. Lohr, C. J. Miller, A. J. Titmus, D. Peters, and L. Wilson. 2013. Multi-species predator eradication within a predator-proof fence at Ka‘ena Point, Hawai‘i. Biological Invasions. 1-12.
- Lohr, M. T., L. C. Young, E.A. VanderWerf, C. J. Miller, and H. Leong. 2013. Dietary Analysis of Free-ranging Cats at Kaʻena Point, Hawaiʻi. ‘Elepaio. 73(3): 1-3.
- Young, L., E.A. VanderWerf, and M.T. Lohr 2012. Freeman Seabird Preserve predator control. ‘Elepaio 71(1): 6.
- Lohr, M. T., B. M. Collins, C. K. Williams, and P. M. Castelli. 2011. Life on the edge: Northern bobwhite ecology at the northern periphery of their range. Journal of Wildlife Management. 75:52-60.
- Williams, C. K., B. K. Sandercock, B. M. Collins, M. Lohr, and P. M. Castelli. 2012. A Mid-
Atlantic and a national population model of northern bobwhite demographic sensitivity. Proceedings of the National Quail Symposium 7:163–172.
Conference Publications/ Presentations
- Lohr, M. T., C. K. Williams, and P. Castelli. 2008. “Northern Bobwhite Winter Ecology in Southern New Jersey” The Wildlife Society Annual Conference. Miami, Florida.
- Lohr, M. T., B. M. Collins, and C. K. Williams. 2006. “Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Ecology in Southern New Jersey” NE Upland Habitat Technical Committee Meeting. Chincoteague, Virginia.
- Lohr, M. T., B. M. Collins, and C. K. Williams. 2006. “Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Ecology in Southern New Jersey” New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Biologists Meeting.
Symposium / Workshop Presentations
- Lohr, M. T. 2014. “Future Weeds of WA: Lessons Learned Overseas” EWAN Weeds Forum. Perth, Western Australia
Mr Michael Lohr
Centre for Ecosystem Management
School of Science