Earthwatch has developed new shorter length one-day research projects and weekend teams based around Australia's capital cities, making them easily accessible for those who are time poor but still want to contribute to the understanding of our natural environment.
Sydney's Hidden Mammals
Chowder Bay, New South Wales, Australia – Very little is known of the ecology, behaviour or social habits of the elusive rakali, also known as the native water rat. It is a charismatic species, indigenous to Sydney Harbour, yet they and other native mammals are threatened by introduced species. The rakali, like the platypus, is highly adapted for aquatic life and is one of the most specialised amphibious Australian mammals. An improved understanding of the rakali will help us to better protect Australia's unique biodiversity and reduce the threat of invasive species.
Working with Dr Peter Banks, a specialist in the research of threatened native mammals, participants will help set out air-tube traps, conduct habitat surveys, analyse hair/foot pad samples and record evidence of native mammal activity. Data collected in this research will provide the basis for management plans of native mammal populations around Australia.
TEAM DATES: 4 June; 11 June; 5 August; 13 August; 5 October; 10 October; 11 October; 1 December; 8 December, 2009.
COST: $99 per person.
The Trouble with Turtles
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia – Climate change and plastic waste in the ocean are among the biggest threats to the world’s seven marine turtle species, all of which are at risk. Urgent measures are required to address the problems of marine pollution, particularly since the impact of human rubbish has spread far beyond our immediate shores.
You will spend the day working on North Stradbroke Island, only accessible by ferry, where Dr Kathy Townsend has been studying these endangered sea turtles. You will learn about the threats to sea turtles, spending your mornings in the lab helping with the dissection and analysis of plastics that contribute to their mortality. Later in the day, you will survey the shoreline for waste, record and catalogue the results and collect the rubbish that threatens these turtles. Data collected will assist ground breaking research on the impact of the ingestion of marine debris on turtles found in Australian waters.
TEAM DATES: 16 July, 2009.
COST: $99 per person.
Sydney's Tropical Damsels & Surgeons
Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly, Sydney Harbour and surrounds, New South Wales, Australia – The larvae of tropical fish commonly occur along the coast of New South Wales where they can more easily find food during the summer months. Although most of these young fish rarely survive the cold water temperatures of winter, it is predicted that the impact of climate change on ocean currents, particularly the Eastern Australia Current will alter the conditions of the NSW coast making their survival more likely.
Working with Professor David Booth, participants will help with visual surveys which are a simple yet robust method of data collection for tropical fish species. The data you collect will help provide an insight into the conditions of tropical fish populations and ways to manage any significant threats. Data will ultimately provide further details on the role of marine reserves in mitigating human pressures on marine ecosystems.
TEAM DATES: 23 April; 22 October; 26 November; 9 December, 2009.
COST: $99 per person.
Bushwalks for Healthy Habitats
Sydney’s National Parks, New South Wales, Australia – Sydney's urban National Parks are the last remaining fragments of the natural landscape around the city. Despite the pressures from human impacts, these parks have ecological and cultural significance beyond their size. They are home to many important native plant and animal species and provide Sydney with critical ecosystem services such as pollution reduction and rainwater purification as well as acting as important recreational spaces. Little is known about how well these areas are functioning making management difficult.
Working with Dieter Hochuli from the University of Sydney, you will carry out a range of ecosystem assessments such as insect and bird surveys, leaf collection, habitat transects, observations of insect behaviour, particularly ant diversity, and setting out and collection of baited traps. Data collected will help scientists develop a model for effective urban National Park management.
TEAM DATES: 29 March, 2009 (FAMILIES WELCOME)
COST: $99 per person.
Australia's Vanishing Frogs
World Heritage areas, New South Wales, Australia – In the past 20 years, nine native species have become extinct and another 42 are in trouble. The fact that frogs in different habitats with different needs are all declining, points to a global phenomenon – it is thought that a disease spread by non-native species may be to blame or even something not yet thought of. To solve this mystery, Dr Michael Mahony and his colleagues are surveying Australia's rich rainforests for frogs.
Working primarily at night, when frogs are most active, you'll walk in and around streams and creeks using a spotlight to find and catch frogs. Teams then collect a range of data such as weight, sex and age before releasing all frogs and tadpoles. You will also observe their behaviour, record their calls and do some preliminary data analysis.
TEAM DATES (Weekend): 25 - 27 September & 16 - 18 October, 2009. (FAMILIES WELCOME)
COST: $295 per adult / $195 per child.
Echidnas & Goannas of Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island, South Australia – The echidna and its only living relative, the platypus, are monotremes, members of the oldest mammal group. These creatures have survived everything that 120 million years of global upheaval could throw at them with little evolutionary change. You can help Dr Peggy Rismiller shed light on the fascinating biology of these species and how to help protect the delicate balance of this island ecosystem.
Hiking through near-pristine woodlands, scrublands and intertidal swamps for several hours a day, you will search for, radio-track, observe, map and record the daily activities of both echidnas and goannas. You will document how the two species interact with the ecosystem, monitor microclimates, conduct surveys and examine how different habitats influence behaviours.
TEAM DATES (Weekend): 25 - 27 September & 30 Oct - 1 Nov, 2009.
COST: $395 per adult.