I am currently undertaking a PhD titled ‘Improving corncrake conservation status in Ireland by using passive acoustic monitoring and thermal imaging’. This project is part of the broader Corncrake LIFE that aims at increasing the Irish population of corncrakes by 20% by 2025. As part of my bioacoustics project, I am deploying twenty SongMeters SM4 (Wildlife Acoustics, Inc.) to monitor the number of corncrakes (Crex crex) and the factors affecting their occupancy. I am also interested in soundscape ecology. Using the same audio files, I extract acoustic indices to assess the biodiversity levels in the corncrake breeding grounds and relate the indices to several habitat and corncrake biology features.
Besides the static recorders, I am also using a parabolic microphone. The aim is to identify each corncrake by its calls and characterize dialects among the Irish sub-populations. To shed light on the number of females, I am also testing the viability of thermal imaging. Airborne thermal cameras are mounted on drones that scan the field to detect any heat signal that could be emitted by incubating females, chicks, and fledglings. Collaborations have been established, and more are growing with RSPB Scotland & NI, Fota Wildlife Park, Boora Discovery Park, SkyFab, and NPWS.
I am also involved in a project with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology to describe the sexual dichromatism in an Alaskan population of red phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius).