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Australia suffers massive shorebird loss

SYDNEY (UPI) -- Australia has suffered a "truly alarming" decline in its number of migratory and resident shorebirds, a long-term study revealed.

An aerial survey conducted by the University of New South Wales in the eastern third of the continent determined migratory shorebird populations plunged by 73 percent and 15 species of resident shorebirds declined by 81 percent between 1983 and 2006.

"This is a truly alarming result: in effect, three-quarters of eastern Australia's millions of resident and migratory shorebirds have disappeared in just one generation," said Professor Richard Kingsford, an author of the study. "The wetlands and resting places that they rely on for food and recuperation are shrinking virtually all the way along their migration path, from Australia through Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and up through Asia into China and Russia."

The study that included John Porter and Silke Nebel appears in the journal Biological Conservatio…