OPEN Investigative genetics | 18 Dec 2013
ML Coghlan, NE White, DC Murray, J Houston, W Rutherford, MI Bellgard, J Haile and M Bunce
Wildlife collisions with aircraft cost the airline industry billions of dollars per annum and represent a public safety risk. Clearly, adapting aerodrome habitats to become less attractive to hazardous wildlife will reduce the incidence of collisions. Formulating effective habitat management strategies relies on accurate species identification of high-risk species. This can be successfully achieved for all strikes either through morphology and/or DNA-based identifications. Beyond species identification, dietary analysis of birdstrike gut contents can provide valuable intelligence for airport hazard management practices in regards to what food is attracting which species to aerodromes. Here, we present birdstrike identification and dietary data from Perth Airport, Western Australia, an aerodrome that saw approximately 140,000 aircraft movements in 2012. Next-generation high throughput DNA sequencing was employed to investigate 77 carcasses from 16 bird species collected over a 12-month period. Five DNA markers, which broadly characterize vertebrates, invertebrates and plants, were used to target three animal mitochondrial genes (12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, and COI) and a plastid gene (trnL) from DNA extracted from birdstrike carcass gastrointestinal tracts.
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