Almost 30 finches and scarlet-chested parrots have so far relocated to the three-storey high ecosystem, with lizards, green tree frogs and an ant colony expected to arrive in the coming year.
Part of the recently-completed $8 million Biology Discovery Centre, the facility features glass walls that run the full height of the building, providing ample viewing opportunities to assist in the teaching and learning of biology students at Flinders.
A sophisticated system of microphones and cameras will soon be installed in the complex to transmit live feeds from the animals onto large audio-visual screens in the spacious laboratories.
Flinders Professor of Animal Behaviour Sonia Kleindorfer said the purpose-built facility enables students to observe the animals directly and conduct various forms of data collection and statistical analysis non-invasively.
“We want to teach students how to quantify animal behaviour without disrupting or harming them, for example, we will set up scales so the students can access the birds’ weight whenever the birds step on them, without actually bothering the birds,” Professor Kleindorfer said.
“By having a free-flight aviary attached to labs, the students can download and access information in real time but they can also trial different methods of data collection,” she said.
“So you could have two groups of students asking the same questions but finding the answers in different ways and comparing the results – all without bothering the animals.”
Professor Kleindorfer said the birds had settled in “very well” since their September arrival.
“They were bathing in water fountains when they first moved in and now they’ve started nesting so I think it’s fair to say them seem distinctly happy.”