Corey Callaghan

Corey Callaghan

Role: PhD Candidate

Contact details: Email:


Phone: +61 421 601 388

Office: D26 Building, UNSW, Kensington 2052

Research Focus:

Currently, more than half (54%) of the world’s population resides in urbanized areas and by 2030 60% of the world’s population will be living in urbanized areas. This has prompted much recent research in urban ecology. Urban greenspaces (e.g., parks, cemeteries, treatment wetlands) are an essential mechanism by which to study urban ecology. In the increasingly developed world there tend to be species, both native and non-native that thrive in heavily developed areas. Urban greenspaces are not only heavily utilized by a variety of taxa, but also by humans. Our ability to preserve and construct urban greenspaces within future urbanization is dependent on our knowledge of their benefits and how they are used. This research intends to investigate the broad role of urban greenspaces throughout urbanized areas. With a focus on birds, I will investigate what greenspace characteristics predict the highest avian biodiversity of urban greenspaces. Alternatively, I will investigate which avian species’ characteristics predict presence in urban environments. A central theme of the research will be the differentiation of native and non-native species. Specifically, I will elucidate associations of native and non-native species’ richness and diversity with particular landcover classes throughout urbanized areas. Lastly, I shift to an anthropogenic focus in order to investigate how humans use urban greenspaces throughout Australia, and what aspects of urban greenspaces drive visitation rates. Ultimately, the results of this research can aid in planning strategies and establishment of sustainable cities worldwide.

Article about birds and humans


Author Date Title Link PDF
Callaghan et al. 2017 Assessing the reliability of avian biodiversity measures of urban greenspaces using eBird citizen science data

ABSTRACT. Urban greenspaces are important areas for biodiversity, serving multiple uses, sometimes including conservation and biodiversity management. Citizen science provides a cheap and potentially effective method of assisting biodiversity management in urban greenspaces. Despite this potential, the minimum amount of citizen science data required to adequately represent a community is largely untested. We used eBird data to test the minimum sampling effort required to be confident in results for three biological metrics, species richness, Shannon diversity, and community composition (Bray-Curtis similarity). For our data, from 30 urban greenspaces in North America, for a 90% threshold level, a minimum mean number of 210, 33, and 58 checklists were necessary for species richness, Shannon diversity, and community composition, respectively. However, when we eliminated those species that were present in fewer than 5% of checklists at a given site, there was a marked decrease in mean minimum number of checklists required (17, 9, and 52, respectively). Depending on the ecological questions of interest, eBird data may be a potentially reliable data source in urban greenspaces. We provide a validation methodology using eBird data, with its associated code in the R statistical environment, to provide confidence for land managers and community groups managing urban greenspaces.

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Callaghan et al. 2017 Travelling birds generate eco-travellers: The economic potential of vagrant birdwatching

Avitourism is one of the faster growing subsectors of ecotourism, recognized for its economic value. Much of our current understanding of the economic value of avitourism revolves around bird festivals, migration events, or well-known birdwatching sites. Birdwatchers are a diverse group, some of whom competitively seek vagrant birds (i.e., birds outside their normal geographic range). The economic value from these unpredictable and transient birdwatching events remains poorly known. Using the travel cost method in a readily-quantifiable environment, we estimated that a vagrant Black-backed Oriole in Pennsylvania, United States of America, stimulated travel activity valued at about $223,000 USD or about $3,000 per day over 67 days. Some birdwatchers value rare birds, contributing significant time and financial resources to their viewing. Identifying such significant real economic value from avitourism can help to evaluate competing costs in debate over human land-use scenarios.

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Callaghan et al. 2017 A probable Australian White Ibis Threskiornis moluccus × Straw-necked Ibis T. spinicollis hybrid

Abstract. We observed a probable juvenile Australian White Ibis Threskiornis moluccus × Straw-necked Ibis T. spinicollis hybrid on the Lachlan River catchment, New South Wales, in November 2016. Photographs, combined with observations, demonstrate phenotypic characteristics of both these ibis species. The bird had a pattern on the wing similar to the Australian White Ibis but coloration on the body similar to the Straw-necked Ibis. To our knowledge, this is only the second report of a probable hybrid between these two species in the wild, and the first report documented with photographs.

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