Please come along to Simeon's PhD confirmation seminar to hear about his plans to disentangle the effects of fire and landscape structure on mammal communities.
Join person or via Zoom.
Where: Small Lecture Theatre, Room 123, Uni Building, Creswick
When: 10 am, Friday 1 March
Simeon's project involves camera trapping and collection of bandicoot DNA samples. If you'd like to volunteer to help with data collection in the spectacular Mount Lofty Ranges between March and May, please get in touch!
A multi-faceted team of reptile, mammal and bat-trappers recently headed out west for a week of fieldwork highs, disappointments and everything in between.
In terms of animal numbers, Taylor and Holly's sites were most bountiful, with 35 reptiles falling into pitfall or funnel traps. Microbats appeared in Amanda's harp traps in dribs and drabs until she hit a bumper night of 19 animals, resulting in 25 for the week. A very promising start to the season although microbat ID makes peering at skink scales seem terribly straight forward.
One thousand two hundred and fifty Elliott-trap nights yielded one very special Yellow-footed Antechinus plus two mildly confused Shinglebacks. We are hopeful that Amy, Rachel, Saumya and Julian's mammoth efforts will be rewarded soon, and that the low trap success reflects the time of year. Kelvin experienced similarly low animal numbers this time last year, and Rachel had heath mice coming out of her ears during her pilot study in March.
We're currently seeking volunteers for our programme of almost back-to-back trapping over the next few months. Food, basic accommodation, and transport from Ballarat or Creswick are provided. Please let us know if you're interested, and keep an eye on the facebook page for details of specific trips.
Our new paper arose from Hilman Sukma's Masters research, and highlights the importance of structurally complex vegetation for mammal functional diversity.
Hilman used wildlife cameras to survey mammals in the Otway Ranges, and combined species occurrence data with ecological trait information to derive measures of functional diversity, which provides a link between species diversity and ecosystem function.
Mammal functional diversity responded positively to two measures of vegetation structural complexity in both wet and dry forest. Hilman concluded that conserving structurally complex vegetation may help to enhance ecosystem function.
The paper is free to download until 22 December:
Sukma, H., Di Stefano, J., Swan, M. & Sitters, H. (2019). Mammal functional diversity increases with vegetation structural complexity in two forest types. Forest Ecology and Management. 433: 85-92
(The fieldwork front)
A team of reptile trappers and vegetation measurers has made Casterton its second home over the past couple of months.
This work forms part of Annalie and Sarah's PhD projects, and Kelvin's Masters project. Their missions are fairly ambitious and they've been assisted by Zahlia, Holly, Julian and Matt, as well as a crew of fantastic volunteers.
Please enjoy a selection of their favourite photos, and don't hesitate to get in touch via facebook if you're interested in helping.
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.
Sarah has recently finished the fieldwork component of her Masters project in the Otway Ranges.
She has been measuring the three-dimensional structure of vegetation at the long-term monitoring sites and collecting fuel hazard information. The next step is to explore how the flammability of different forest types changes over time using these data.
Thanks to all of the amazing volunteers (around 25 of them!) who have helped out in the field over the last eight months.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb