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.
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.
Our ARC Linkage project officially begins in 2017, and Holly, Julian, Matt and Alan took a road trip this week to scope out the study area. The ultimate aim of the project is to conserve biodiversity in fire-prone fragmented landscapes by addressing two key knowledge gaps: the combined effects of fire and fragmentation on animal movement, and the implications of current and future fire regimes for animal populations.
We'll be embarking on an busy field program from mid February to May and are seeking volunteers to join week-long trips involving:
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb