6000 years of emu mysteries unveiled

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The emu - an iconic Australian bird, but also something of an enigma. "They're so widespread, but we really don't know much about them," says Western Sydney U...
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niversity PhD student Julia Ryeland. "How do you know how they're going to be affected by anthropogenic change when we don't even know basic things like lifespan?" Ms Ryeland and other researchers at Western Sydney University and the University of Tasmania are the authors of a new study that sheds light on the mysterious bird. The scientists investigated where emus are likely to live in Australia, as well as tracking where they have spent the past 6000 years and what will happen in the next 50 years. They compiled emu spottings over the past few decades from the archives, matching the data with open source information about what conditions were like in those locations. They discovered that climate is the most influential factor over where emus live, and that the birds are less bothered by things like habitat and urbanisation. It turns out that emus like rainfall across most of the year, but are put off by heavy rainfall in summer. The researchers used modelling to look at where emu populations were likely to have been from the mid-holocene -- around…
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