Led by FIDO, a huge Fraser Island (K’Gari) BioBlitz from 28 November to 4 December will bring together experts from many areas of biology to carry out a stocktake of the natural resources of the World Heritage island.
Based at the Dilli Village Fraser Island Research and Learning Centre, the BioBlitz is being well supported by the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and FINIA.
The study area extends from the ocean beach to Lake Birrabeen, covering all six dune systems and encompassing most ecosystem types from heathlands, tall forests, swamps, fens and perched dune lakes except for the estuarine environments. It is hoped to achieve more by maintaining a tight and intense focus on this particular study area rather than an island wide hunt.
The study area is very accessible with a number of tracks through it that will allow scientists to easily access representative places of interest.
The aim of the BioBlitz is to establish critical baseline data to assist in managing this globally significant area into the future. This is a problem, because Fraser Island hitherto hasn’t been as well studied biologically as it deserves. For example, there are probably more aquatic plants to be discovered and it won’t be surprising if Fraser Island’s plant list breaks through 1000 species with much more rigorous scrutiny. It is also expected that the BioBlitz will discover some species never previously recorded from K’Gari especially amongst the invertebrates and fungi that deserve more study.
FIDO is seeking people with expertise in identifying any critters that swim, slither, walk, crawl, hop or fly in the study area as well as all the sorts of plants and fungi, great and small, that support these very special ecosystems. Experts from as far afield as Sydney and Darwin are already lining up and FIDO is hopeful that about 100 biologists will contribute to the BioBlitz. People looking to assist in this very special sort of stocktake don’t need a PhD, but they do need expertise in identifying species in their area of biological interest.
People with special interests in arachnology, ornithology, herpetology, general zoology, botany, mycology and other areas of biology are being sought. So far the greatest interest has come from entomologists and zoologists but applications are expected by bird watchers and botanists as well as from societies with some brilliant naturalists. This is despite the BioBlitz not being able to financially assist participants who will have to provide their own 4WD transport. The attraction for the participants will be a meeting of minds and the opportunity to exchange observations and information – a key bonus for the BioBlitz. It is is a unique opportunity to meet and work together with experts from an array of disciplines in a very attractive field setting.
UNESCO recognizes the Fraser Island World Heritage Area for representing “an outstanding example of significant ongoing biological processes. These processes, acting on a sand medium, include biological adaptation (such as unusual rainforest succession), and biological evolution (such as the development of rare and biogeographically significant species of plants and animals)”
The BioBlitz is expected to add to Fraser Island’s World Heritage values as the Queensland Government is preparing to re-nominate it along with Cooloola to have those values recognized. However FIDO is already considering other BiobBlitzes because it is necessary to regularly return to the same sites to see that everything previously recorded is still there.