Annalie, Sarah, Holly, Julian and Matt caught more animals than in their wildest dreams during their inaugural reptile-trapping trip last week.
They used six funnel traps and six pitfall traps at each of 10 sites in the Drajurk and Roseneath State Forests near Casterton in western Victoria. They were treated to visits from the Eastern three-lined Skink (Bassiana duperreye - a particularly trap-happy species), South-eastern Slider (Lerista bougainvillii), Jacky Dragon (Amphibolurus muricatus), Striped Worm-lizard (Aprasia striolata), Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guitchenoti), Southern Grass Skink (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii), and Obscure Skink (Morethia obscura).
The work forms part of Annalie and Sarah's PhD projects. Annalie is examining the responses of reptile communities to spatial pattern in fire history, and is also interested in comparing the efficacy of trapping methods. Sarah is exploring the combined effects of fire and fragmentation on species' movement capacities with a view to finding out how managers can apply fire to enhance species' connectivity and persistence.
Between trap checks we found time to admire the swathes of Xanthorrhoea australis, which is flowering spectacularly. Kelvin plans to measure the shape and distribution of X. australis as part of his studies of small mammal habitat associations, so we also spent a while pondering alternative methods.
Many months of trapping lie ahead (10 sites down, 130 to go), but it was a promising start.
Please visit the Fire & Fragmentation Project page for more information about this research.
Please contact Holly email@example.com with any enquiries.
We're looking for volunteers to assist with drift fence installation for pitfall and funnel traps in southwest Victoria from Monday 28 August - Friday 1 September. This is a great opportunity to improve your knowledge of reptile trapping methods, learn more about the Fire & Fragmentation Project, and see some beautiful wildlife!
The week will be spent out in the field walking to sites, carrying heavy-ish equipment and installing drift fences, so a good level of physical fitness and enthusiasm is required. Basic food and accommodation at our field house in Casterton will be provided.
If you're not available, there will be further opportunities to volunteer later in September and October (dates TBC).
Please send all enquiries to Sarah.
Kirsten worked with Kate in the Central Highlands to investigate the responses of Mountain Bobucks (Trichosurus cunninghami) to fire. She measured the home range sizes of animals fitted with GPS collars, and examined the response of home range size to fire severity and vegetation diversity.
She found that home ranges were smaller in areas burnt by high-severity fire in 2009 than in long-unburnt areas. Smaller home ranges reflect high quality habitat, and it's likely that regenerating acacia in burnt areas provides bobucks with an abundant food supply. Within areas burnt by high-severity fire, there was a positive relationship between home range size and vegetation-type diversity, indicating that riparian vegetation is particularly resource-rich.
These results will help researchers and land mangers better understand the implications of changing fire regimes for bobuck populations.
Well done Kirsten, and thanks to Julio, Kate and Kirsten for the photos!
We're excited to have been awarded the Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award for our Fire, Landscape Pattern and Biodiversity Project undertaken in the Otway Ranges over the past seven years. The award recognises outstanding contributions to fostering excellence in applied science for the benefit of park management.
This research a great example of university researchers working with industry partners (Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)) to achieve positive conservation outcomes. Parks Victoria supported the project through their Research Partners Program and DELWP through the IFER agreement (Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research). The project involved 17 students, who explored the responses of mammals, birds, invertebrates and plants to fire and landscape pattern.
Well done to everyone who has contributed to the project!
Having carefully balanced the evidence, we conclude that the honeymoon period lives on.
Last week the Fire & Fragmentation Project team ventured out to the heathy woodland between Dartmoor and Edenhope to set up their second round of camera traps. This work is part of Zahlia and Lauren's studies into the effects of fire and fragmentation on mammals. They are currently going through the photos from their first round of camera trapping, and will compile their favourites soon. Please stay tuned.
Thanks to Sarah, Lauren and Zahlia for providing all the evidence.
We will be posting regularly with information on what’s happening with our group at the Creswick campus, photos taken during fieldwork, volunteering opportunities and more!
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Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb