Plettenberg Bay, South Africa 21 June – 30 June 2024

The Groot River Waterbird Ecosystem

Seasonal Dynamics of Waterbird Communities

This collaborative study, conducted by members of BirdLife Plettenberg Bay and the Nature's Valley Trust, delves into the avian ecology of the Groot (West) River estuary in South Africa, spanning the years from 1998 to 2023. Birds, serving as key indicators of environmental change, offer valuable insights into the region's biodiversity and ecosystem health. Through an analysis of bi-annual waterbird data spanning over 25 years, this study unveils notable seasonal fluctuations in species distribution within the estuary. These fluctuations, characterized by contrasting winter and summer populations, serve as clear indicators of changes in waterbird diversity and seasonal patterns. The study, comprising 7,313 bird sightings across 41 species, showcases the estuary's remarkable stability and biodiversity over the years. Moreover, NVT's monitoring strategy is expanding to encompass not only water quality analysis and waterbird counts but also baseline habitat assessment, fish surveys, and socio-ecological research. This holistic approach provides a comprehensive understanding of the river-estuarine-inshore marine connectivity, aligning with a larger seascape connectivity project. Together, these efforts highlight the ecological importance of the Groot (West) River estuary as a priority estuary and underscore the need for continued conservation measures in the region.


Lauren Moriarty is a conservation scientist and the project manager for the Rivers and Estuaries Programme at NVT. She is deeply committed to conservation and environmental education, engaging in diverse research activities, especially in managing projects for local rivers and inshore marine environments. Lauren supports the Source-to-Sea project for the Sout (Oos) River and supervises estuary monitoring for the Groot (Wes) River. Her dedication lies in enhancing the understanding of environmental conservation and sustainability via active research and educational outreach.

This event takes place on:

Saturday 22 June

09:30 - 09:55