Carly Martin: A PhD (Pretty huge Deal)

Hello fellow bird lovers! My name is Carly Martin and I am a PhD Candidate at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, Queensland. In my PhD project I am analysing data collected by citizen scientists to investigate how urban sprawl is affecting birds. I will determine which species require conservation action as our cities grow and change. Understanding the impact of current urbanisation levels on our birds is vital for protecting them into an increasingly urbanised future.  Australia’s birdlife is hugely diverse, making this a monumental task. My hope is that my research fills in a piece of this huge collaborative puzzle. As of now, I am in the early stages of my PhD but, my goal is to analyse changes in species observations across several Australian cities. 

I am very fortunate to be able to work on a cross section of fascinating topics. My lifelong love of birds, combined with potential conservation outcomes, made this an obvious choice for the direction of my research.  It is an exciting time for ecological research - online citizen science platforms such as Birdata give us access to an unprecedented amount of data. This gives ecologists like me incredible opportunities to study big trends that would have been otherwise unfeasible. That being said, this new opportunity provides challenges as well. When there is so much data, how do you manage it? How do you determine what is an interesting trend versus what is bias in the data? Thankfully, there are a lot of very clever people out there working on ways to make the most of these huge resources.  I am excited to use these new methods to figure out which bird species need our help now and in the future.

Finally, I was asked to include a section about my favourite bird and why. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that is much more difficult than it sounds! I will be diplomatic by saying that one of my favourites must be the Rufous Fantail. Not only are they a gorgeous little bird, they are also full of personality (as most birds are). I always think back to a time I spent in the Bunya Mountains. I encountered a little Rufous Fantail that almost seemed like it was following me! It looked so curious and cute with that disproportionately large tail fanning, as it fluttered from branch to branch.


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