Citizen scientists discover 9 new species in diverse outback jewel
More than 350 kilometres north-east of Perth, Charles Darwin Reserve is home to frogs, dunnarts, geckos, spiders, plants, moths, skinks and other rare and endangered species. The 68,600 hectare reserve lies within a global biodiversity hotspot that is one of only 25 areas worldwide that contain around 50 per cent of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity yet cover just 2 per cent of the land area.
The Animals of the Outback research project is assessing the impact of introduced pests on endangered native mammals and is designed to uncover valuable knowledge about Australia’s unexplored biodiversity. The aim of the research is to assess the effectiveness of feral management plans to preserve the conservation values of the region.
Working alongside scientists from Edith Cowan University and Bush Heritage, BHP Billiton Iron Ore volunteers spent a week in late September at Charles Darwin Reserve (outback WA), volunteering their time to conservation research. Despite the lack of winter rain, the Reserve was abundant and diverse.
Field trip outcomes
- The team dug 144 pitfall traps and laid 1km of fencing.
- A total of 181 animals were captured over the 10-day survey period.
- The majority of these were reptiles, of which 9 were new additions to the species list for the Reserve
- The condition of the animals was very good with nearly all female dunnarts breeding.
“We were very excited when Notomys mitchelli (Mitchell’s hopping mouse) was identified and added to the reserve’s official species list”. Earthwatch Director of Field Management, Jen Alger
Next year the general public will be able to join the Earthwatch Animals of the Outback research project on 23 April to 2 May 2011.