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Great Sandy Strait is already listed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance, but along with Cooloola, it is has been nominated for inclusion on Australia’s National Heritage list as well as the World Heritage Tentative List. Great Sandy Strait and its natural integrity are vitally important to Fraser Island. There is now a groundswell of public concern over the future of Great Sandy Strait if the proposed Colton coal mine proceeds, as it currently has approval to do. (more…)
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 Journal of Coastal Research recently featured two articles that might be of interest to readers of this newsletter. If the summaries below whet your appetite for more information, pdfs of these papers are provided below.
A review of coastal dunefield evolution in southeastern Queensland
Graziela Miot de Silva and James Shulmeister
This paper summarises existing research on dunefield progression on the southern coast of Queensland. The aim is to identify the possible controlling factors in the dunefields’ evolution. Gaining an understanding of dunefield progression in southern Queensland, and the relative contributions of sea level change and climate to phases of activity, is made especially interesting by the length of this system’s records of Quaternary dunefield evolution. At the same time, however, the chronological sequence of these phases is largely unknown. This study pieces together what is known and assumed about the progression of these phases and the triggers that may have initiated them, as an important step towards more thoroughly understanding this system and what it has to say about the relative thresholds of sea level change and climate in dunefield progression and what might cause one factor or the other to dominate in dune emplacement phases.
This paper can be downloaded in PDF format, from: MiotdaSilvaShulmeister
Ground penetrating radar observations of present and former coastal environments, Great Sandy National Park, Queensland, Australia – Focus on Moon Point, Fraser Island
Allen M. Gontz, Adrian B. McCallum, Patrick T. Moss, and James Shulmeister
This paper reports on a subset of data collected from a larger study to investigate past shoreline complexes of Fraser Island and the northern end of the Cooloola Sand Mass. In this paper, the focus of discussion is information gathered from 10 reconnaissance-level ground penetrating radar lines in the Moon Point area of Fraser Island during July 2014. Using the radar data, the authors characterise the site and its units, discuss some aspects of its likely development, and draw initial conclusions about its age. Building on this important first step in understanding the dynamics and evolution of this system, future work will focus on developing chronologies associated with the GPR stratigraphy, extract climate proxies from preserved coastal systems and reconstruct the paleogeography.
This paper can be downloaded in PDF format, from: Gontzetal-2016-jcr
A third study of interest, led by USC student Marion Howard, was recently published in PLOSOne.
Patterns of phylogenetic diversity of subtropical rainforest of the Great Sandy Region, Australia indicate long term climatic refugia
Marion G. Howard, William J. F. McDonald, Paul I. Forster, W. John Kress, David Erickson, Daniel P. Faith, Alison Shapcott
This study tests the patterns of rainforest diversity and relatedness in the Great Sandy Region at a fine scale to investigate why this region exhibits greater phylogenetic evenness compared with rainforests on white sands in other parts of the world. From the findings, Fraser Island and Cooloola show evidence of having been rainforest refugia, and the Great Sandy Region’s significance for the conservation of phylogenetic variability is emphasised.
This paper can be downloaded in PDF format, from: PlosoneHowardetal 2016
Finally, Linda Behrendorff (QPWS) and colleagues have a new paper out through Nature.
Insects for breakfast and whales for dinner: the diet and body condition of dingoes on Fraser Island (K’gari)
Linda Behrendorff, Luke K.-P. Leung, Allan McKinnon, Jon Hanger, Grant Belonje, Jenna Tapply, Darryl Jones & Benjamin L. Allen
This paper represents the first published study characterising the diet of the Fraser Island (K’gari) dingo population, and discusses the body condition and health of this population relative to other dingo populations. According to the results, the K’gari dingo population is capable of exploiting a wide variety of food sources, from insects to whales. Thus, far from supporting the anecdotal contention that the K’gari dingos are ‘starving’ or in ‘poor condition’, these findings reveal the K’gari dingo population to be in good to excellent physical condition and health.
This paper can be viewed online, at: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep23469
A BioBlitz on Fraser Island (K’gari) has moved a few steps closer to reality with FIDO setting the proposed dates for the Blitz as 28 November – 4 December 2016. However, before FIDO can launch the promotion for the BioBlitz, which is supported by FINIA, the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, supplementary funding is required to engage a coordinator to liaise with scientists and other participants and retrieve the vital data collected. At this stage, FIDO is only issuing advance warning to alert people to the proposed BioBlitz event: Beach to Boomanjin and Birrabeen.
Details of Beach to Boomanjin and Birrabeen
Fraser Island (K’Gari) is inscribed on the World Heritage list because of its biological, geomorphological and aesthetic values; however, much more biological research is needed to know the extent of K’gari’s natural resources, with a BioBlitz of a discrete part of Fraser Island standing to add greatly to the ecological understanding of this site.
The BioBlitz, which is to be based at Dilli Village, aims to bring together teams of entomologists, botanists, ornithologists, zoologists, herpetologists and other specialist groups (fishes, fungi, etc.) to scour the study area. Each team will develop its own program and modus operandi. It is expected that the team leader will be responsible for compiling a report of the team’s findings to add to the existing data banks being built at USC.
FIDO is seeking to appoint a coordinator before this project can proceed. The coordinator will recruit specialist scientists from a range of disciplines to study the defined research area, which covers a diversity of habitats, to develop an inventory of the natural resources and species within that area. FIDO will also recruit volunteers as necessary to assist scientists and specialists logistically.
The study area includes samples of all six dune systems, including Dune System 4 east of Lake Birrabeen and Dune Systems 5 and 6 in the vicinity of the Boomanjin airstrip. In addition, the area includes three large perched dune lakes, two creeks and a number of old swamps, as well as various forest types. It will be a broad transect of a wide range of ecotypes, from the beach through the foredunes and the freshwater aquatic environments of Govi and Gerrawea Creeks. It will also enable comparison between mined and unmined areas in both the foredune and hind dune areas. It will include the large peat swamp, with its flarks and fens, never before studied in detail.
Dilli Village has accommodation for up to 60 people, as well as a large camping area and 24-hour 240V power, which may be needed for some equipment. It also has a large meeting area. There will be opportunities at Dilli Village each night for the various teams to compare notes and share observations of their field work.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO
In this FIDO Backgrounder, rhyme describes the nexus between K’Gari’s soil formation and vegetation types.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO