Information Sought for a Shearwater Project

To: COG Chatline <>
Subject: Information Sought for a Shearwater Project
From: Julie Clark <>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2017 09:11:39 +0000
Hi All,

I have offered to pass on the following information and request from Jack Rojahn.

If anyone has suggestions of suitable locations to collect samples or if anyone is interesting in some field work, please contact Jack directly ... details below ...


Hi Julie,

Just thought I would get in touch as we are about to begin a small project concerning Shearwaters (Ardenna pacifica) and samples collected from New Caledonia.

The aim is to determine the diet of the Shearwaters (mainly the species of fish consumed) through the collection of faeces. This will be done by extracting DNA and running lab work on the DNA extracts (Metabarcoding).

As samples from New Caledonia are precious and we only have a few samples, we will need to hone in some accurate  methods using dispensable samples to ensure we are able to extract DNA effectively.

Our plan was to either head to a lake or area where fish eating birds (cormorants/grebes?) are found in the ACT and collect samples similar to those collected in New Caledonia. However going to the coast might be also be considered.

The main criteria is that a diet composed of multiple species of fish is essential. Samples may be best collected from adult birds who are not fasting. The samples seem to also have some small pellets/rocks in them, maybe used for digestion (not sure if some birds do or don’t swallow gravel/rocks).

Samples will be collected and immediately preserved in ethanol for later extraction. As close as I can get to recreating these samples would be great.

Any suggestions would be appreciated! Happy to arrange field work if anyone might want to help out =)


Thanks Julie,


Background information about Jack ... (written by Jack)

I am a Research Assistant working for the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra and graduated from the University of Canberra with an Honours Degree in Applied Science. The Institute of Applied Ecology is involved with a wide range of novel and exciting projects, many concerning molecular methods of species detection from environmental samples. By collecting environmental samples such as water or dirt, extraction of DNA from these samples can provide insight into the presence or absence of a target species or taxa. The use of Environmental DNA as a detection method is a fast growing field and is often used to understand and prevent incursions from invasive species and to survey endangered and cryptic species that are otherwise difficult to monitor such as amphibians and fish.

Using faeces collected from the Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna pacifica), prey items detected from these samples may provide information on the diversity of Shearwater diets as well as information on little known organisms that they ingest.

Jack Rojahn

Research Assistant | Institute for Applied Ecology

University of Canberra, 2617, ACT

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Julie Clark
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