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Fraser Island -K’gari Symposium: Sharing Knowledge, Sharing Understanding

 

The Fraser-K’gari Island symposium is being held at the Hervey Bay campus of the University of the Sunshine Coast on the 7-8 June 2018. (more…)

Dingoes – A highly evolved predator

There is no question that the dingo is a very capable predator.  Predators often exhibit highly intelligent and adaptable behaviour and hunting techniques to catch, subdue or kill prey. (more…)

Helping to Build the GSS Research Fund

As part of its fundraising efforts to build the Research Fund, FIDO is offering a series of Cruises in the Strait to enable people to have a personal experience of Great Sandy Strait.  (more…)

Saving Great Sandy Strait

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…)

Ships Ahoy! Research to Focus on Cruise Tourism

Cruise tourism has witnessed unprecedented growth rates amidst greater interest in terms of new destinations and ships with an impressive array of features. There is some agreement within industry that the sector is likely to continue its growth trajectory given that many cruise tourists are sold to the idea of all-inclusive and value-based pricing strategies employed by many operators. (more…)

Central Station Small Mammal Survey

sedgefrogs

Cooloola sedgefrogs (Litoria cooloolensis) image taken by Harry Hines ©

During the recent acoustic recorder deployment on K’gari, fellow colleague, amphibian expert and all round authority on Queensland’s plants and animals, Harry Hines joined Linda Behrendorff and Queensland Parks and Wildlife staff in an opportunity to do some small mammal capture and release in the Central Station area. They were rewarded with a good number of captures that included the usual visitors, Fawn-footed melomys (M. Cervinipes), Bush rat (R. fuscipes) and Yellow-footed antechinus (A. Flavipes). Both antechinus females had pouches indicating recent young.

The team also took the opportunity to pull the rarely used harp trap out of its hiding hole in the NRM shed, recording two Eastern long-eared micro bats (Nyctophilus bifax). This was followed up by a Wangoolba boardwalk survey sighting melomys and rattus species, long finned eels, cat fish and a short-eared possum (Trichosurus caninus) that casually walked the banister.  (more…)

Fraser Island Fauna Survey

Since departing Fraser Island 16 years ago, it was great to get back there earlier this year to renew acquaintanceships with old friends and make some new ones. I was over to assist a good friend and retired herpetologist, Harald Ehmann, to look for the endangered Fraser Island endemic, the Fraser Island Sand Skink Coggeria naufragus. I was on the island from the 8-13 February this year and Harald three days longer.

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New Research Alert!

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 for Fraser Island

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.

BioBlitz study area

The proposed study area will include a diverse range of ecotypes, including all 6 dune system types

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

Weak Links Push Migratory Birds towards Extinction

University of Queensland scientists are calling for greater international collaboration to save the world’s migratory birds, with research finding more than 90 per cent of species are inadequately protected due to poorly coordinated conservation efforts.

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) research team found many species of migratory bird were at risk of extinction due to habitat loss along their flight paths.

Far Eastern Curlew_credit DS Hovorka (002)

The Far Eastern Curlew are suffering rapid declines from loss of habitat along their flight path between Siberia and Australia. Photo: Dirk Hovorka.

Dr Claire Runge, from UQ’s School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, said more than half of all migratory bird species travelling the world’s main flyways has suffered serious population declines in the past 30 years. “This is due mainly to unequal and ineffective protection across their migratory range and the places they stop to refuel along their routes,” she said.

The research found huge gaps in conservation efforts to protect migratory birds, particularly across China, India and parts of Africa and South America.

Dr Runge said a typical migratory bird relied on many different geographic locations for food, rest and breeding. “So even if we protect most of their breeding grounds, it’s still not enough. Threats somewhere else can affect the entire population,” she said. “The chain can be broken at any link.”

Dr Runge said birds undertook remarkable journeys, navigating across land and sea to find refuge as the seasons changed. “This ranges from by bar-tailed godwit endurance flights exceeding 10,000 kilometres to the annual relay of Arctic terns, which fly the equivalent distance to the moon and back three times during their lives.”

The study found that 1324 of 1451 migratory bird species had inadequate protection for at least one part of their migration pathway, while 18 species had no protection in their breeding areas and two species had no protection at all along their entire route.

berdez

Roosting bar-tailed gotwit. Photo: Drik Hovorka.

The team examined more than 8200 important bird and biodiversity areas internationally recognised as significant locations for migratory bird populations, finding that just 22 per cent were completely protected, and 41 per cent only partially overlapped with protected areas.

Research team member and BirdLife International Head of Science Dr Stuart Butchart said establishing new reserves to protect unprotected sites — and more effectively managing all protected areas for migratory species — was critical to ensure the survival of these species.

UQ School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Richard Fuller said the study highlighted an urgent need to coordinate protected area designation along the birds’ full migration route. “It won’t matter what we do in Australia or in Europe if these birds are losing their habitat somewhere else, as they will still perish,” he said. “We need to work together far more effectively around the world if we want our migratory birds to survive into the future.”

The study, Protected areas and global conservation of migratory birds, is published in Science.

Reproduced, with thanks, from UQ News, https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2015/12/weak-links-push-migratory-birds-toward-extinction