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K’gari-Fraser Island Mobile App

The University of the Sunshine Coast has developed the K’gari-Fraser Island App which is now available in the App store. Search for ‘Fraser Island Guide’. The App is designed to assist USC’s students and staff plan their trip to the Island, choose itineraries and learn about K’gari. Given the University’s interest in Dilli Village, all itineraries start at Dilli but can be adapted. The App is available to the public, is not commercial and is free to anyone who wishes to download it. (more…)

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…)

Fraser Island Repository

The Fraser Island Repository is a project of the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). The collection will, for the first time, gather in one place dispersed material relating to Fraser Island, particularly that held in government departments.

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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…)

The First K’gari BioBlitz

From 28 November to 4 December 2016, a multidisciplinary team of experienced scientists and enthusiastic amateurs based at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s (USC) Dilli Village Research and Education Centre carried out the first of what are hoped to be regular BioBlitzes to better document the wide range of both plant and animal species on Fraser Island (K’gari).

The BioBlitzes are a kind of ‘natural stocktake’ to develop an inventory of every living thing on K’gari.  They are extremely important on K’gari, because biological values are one of the three natural values for which the island has been inscribed on the World Heritage list.  Criteria (vii) recognises K’gari’s outstanding aesthetic values.  Criteria (viii) recognises the ongoing geological processes which are currently being studied over three years by a team from the University of Queensland.  Criteria (ix) recognises that the island ‘represents 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).   Vegetation associations and succession represented on Fraser Island display an unusual level of complexity, with major changes in floristic and structural composition occurring over very short distances.’  It is this criteria that the BioBlitz was addressing.

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Collaboration in Action

The collaboration between the University of the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO) developed further recently when FIDO made a $100,000 donation to the USC on 1 September to fund research into minimising the impact of vehicle traffic on the fragile natural environment of Fraser Island. The collaboration has grown over recent years from the USC sponsorship of the biennial Fraser Island conferences organized by FIDO and the forthcoming BioBlitz, to assisting the development of the Fraser Island Repository at Sippy Downs and other projects. (more…)

Fraser Island WHA Indigenous Advisory Committee FINALIST in National Landcare Awards!

Vote now for the People's Choice Awards

Vote now for the People’s Choice Awards

The Recognising & Recording K’Gari’s (Fraser Island) Cultural Heritage project was initiated by the Fraser Island World Heritage Area Indigenous Advisory Committee in 2012 and was delivered by the Butchulla people and Aboriginal Rangers of Fraser Island.

Through strong partnerships, the project provided training to the Butchulla community, leading to additional cultural heritage sites being located including the highly significant Bogimbah Mission grave sites on this World Heritage listed property. The project has established closer ties between the Aboriginal Ranger team and Butchulla elders and broader engagement and stewardship by the Butchulla community with forums, field trips and newsletters.

Judging is currently underway with the announcements to be made at the National Landcare Conference and Gala Awards being held in Melbourne in September.  You can also vote for the Indigenous Advisory Committee in the People’s Choice Awards, just click on the icon.

Note: Although you are able to vote in every category, you don’t have to, so just look for the group in the Indigenous Land Corporation Indigenous Landcare Category.

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

A Little More about Pandanus Dieback

By now I’m sure the vast majority of the readers of the FINIA newsletter are aware of the Pandanus dieback occurring in Pandanus populations in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, and the severe dieback currently occurring on Fraser Island. Many will also be aware of the leafhopper primarily responsible for the dieback (Jamella australiae). (more…)