Category Archives: Citizen Science

What you and I can do

A bird species competition, with a northern perspective.

Here’s a little competition about bird species (for non-birder people, so butt out if you are an expert). If you can identify please add via “comment”. I am in the Northern Territory,  Australia,  so they may be a bit different from what you are used to.  All the photos taken by me over the last 3 weeks. I have an interest in just how much we know about our own Australian species. Most of these are fairly common. I will add some more unusual species in a later post. Please share, and kids welcome!

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Very Special Treatment

white-winged-fairy-wren

Who could disagree that Australian ecosystems are very special? My photo of this White Backed Fairy-wren in central NSW last month tells it all, he seems to scream ‘I Exist’.

Not far from where I live in Melbourne, Victoria, are the last few Orange Bellied Parrots, and I mean few. The only four birds left to make the crossing from Tasmania to mainland Australia for winter (these parrots are one of three of earth’s migratory parrots another being the Australian Swift parrot which is also endangered).

orange-bellied

Most people have no idea these creatures exist or would care, a freeway passes the parrot’s winter foraging place and thousands of cars roar past the place each day. How many of those drivers know what they are passing?

Leading Australian scientists tell us our special ecosystems are in a state of collapse https://theconversation.com/great-barrier-reef-bleaching-is-just-one-symptom-of-ecosystem-collapse-across-australia-58579

Ecology CAN make a change, without it there would likely be no Rhinos, Elephants or National Parks. People can also create change, but this requires political will. The  Great Australian Silence (the National ability to turn our backs on the big questions) has to be overcome.

“Country”and that includes our seas, need very special treatment. It’s what we all rely on to provide the water, oxygen, food and recycling of waste and chemicals used daily without a thought. It’s also the thing which sequestrates the Co2 we are pumping into the air and which is causing  Climate Change.

Lets put our money where it’s really needed, not into more war machines.“Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – US Vice President Joe Biden

Atlas of Living Aust,

My arts project was recently posted to ALA see http://www.ala.org.au/blogs-news/spotlight-on-ala-users-visual-artist-peter-forward/

I add to Atlas of Living Australia’s data base when I take photos or recognize a species. Ordinary citizens can help here by  building knowledge about what is in our wild places and even backyards. If I cannot identify the plant or animal I log it to WOMPA which is part of the Bowerbird database. These databases apparently combine their sightings, although I’m not sure about this. After entering to WOMPA experts will view the photo for identification. Don’t forget to place a car key or coin or matchbox next to the object to show size. ALA is also great for me when making my sculptures.

ALA is also working with First People, see

cheeky-yams

Jalma (Cheeky Yam, Dioscorea bulbifera)

Cats are lovely pets but;

slide 1

And there’s other reasons to discourage cat ownership..

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Predators are disappearing world-wild, including from our seas. On land this can have unforseen effects. The left diagram below is what we have done, and the right is what the science suggests we should do. The problem is these decisions would effect on-farm income.

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However agriculture and conservation can work together. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus in arid South Australia released 4 threatened study mammals from feral predation. The result was the 4 species’ removal from the IUCN Red list.

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So next time you see a spider or cockroach in your cupboard remember your own actions and decisions also have consequenses.

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Most effective way to save small Australian mammals

The most effective way to save  endangered Australian mammals, birds and biodiversity without spending one conservation dollar.  It might seem weird but the release of Rabbit Hemorrhage Disease Virus reduced cat and fox impacts. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-17/rabbit-control-research-rhdv-threatened-mammals-south-australia/7177600#

rabbitIt’s easy to photograph rabbits even if you live in a major Australian city. This one 10km from Melb CBD.

Lead researcher Reece Pedler from Natural Resources SA Arid Lands said the results were compelling.“We found that three threatened mammals, the dusky hopping mouse, the plains mouse and the crest-tailed mulgara, had undergone huge changes in their distribution,” Mr Pedler said…“Some of those species have increased their extent of occurrence by between 250 and 350 per cent, so they have made massive increases in their range.”

And in Rabbit biocontrol and landscape-scale recovery
of threatened desert mammals
Reece D. Pedler,∗ ¶ Robert Brandle,∗ John L. Read,†‡ Richard Southgate,§ Peter Bird,∗∗
and Katherine E. Moseby†‡
“In an era of increasing conservation crisis, costefficiency
in conservation planning and investment is
critical (Carwardine et al. 2012; McDonald et al. 2015).
Well-considered actions that simultaneously abate threats
relevant to multiple species and ecosystems are keys
to maximizing conservation outcomes (Auerbach et al.
2014). Despite this, many celebrated conservation successes
feature intense single-species captive breeding
and reintroduction programs for endangered flagship
mammals. Some expensive examples include recovery
actions for the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) in
North America, which have involved nearly 50 government
agencies in the captive breeding of 6000 individuals
(Jachowski et al. 2011), with 100 wild-released animals
costing US$29,100/individual (Bodenchuk et al.
2000). Similarly, recovery of the golden lion tamarin
(Leontopithecus rosalia) has involved intense captive
breeding and wild-population translocation, requiring
millions of dollars in investment sustained over 4
decades (Kierulff et al. 2012). Although these examples
may represent extreme cases, where extinction
risk is high, they highlight the high costs of 11th hour
intensive conservation intervention compared with preventative
measures implemented at earlier stages.
Within our study area, single-species-focused conservation
actions for small mammals have also gained much
emphasis, but these costly species recovery plans are
seldom funded and are perhaps too narrowly focused
and unrealistic in sparsely populated regions (Southgate
2014). Single-species recovery planning for the plains
mouse prescribes research and small-scale habitat protection
costing AU$895,000 over 5 years (Moseby 2011).
Four-year recovery actions for the crest-tailed mulgara
(published in the same year as RHDV’s introduction)
were estimated at AU$852,000 (Morris et al. 1996). Few
of these identified actions were funded or enacted, and revised
actions have since been identified (Woinarski et al.
2014). In the meantime, both species have recovered significantly
because of action that (somewhat fortuitously)
addressed common threatening processes that simultaneously
benefited other species, ecosystems, and important
agricultural industries on a continent wide scale (Cox
et al. 2013). This multispecies recovery provided by rabbit
biocontrol arguably costs nothing, as the AU$12 million
cost to introduce RHDV has been recouped many
times over by the AU$350 million annual benefit to agriculture
alone (Saunders et al. 2010).
In arid inland Australia, the release of the rabbit
biocontrol agent RHDV has been the single most
important and cost-effective conservation action for
small threatened mammals (and a range of other taxa and
ecosystems) in recent decades. This result highlights the
power of harnessing trophic cascades as a wide-reaching
conservation tool. Although the scale of RHDV’s benefits
was not foreseen at the time of its introduction, these
changes were detected through multiple long-term monitoring
data sets, without which the important applied
conservation lessons may have been missed. Sustained recovery
depends on the continued suppression of rabbits
and by extension of cats and foxes through adaptation
and release of new rabbit biocontrol agents. The
associated benefits to agricultural industries alone
would provide substantial net economic gain from
this relatively cheap yet wide-reaching action. Such
broad-scale conservation management initiatives with
appropriate long-term monitoring should be prioritized
over single-species-focused recovery actions or smallscale
intensive programs.”

 

 

 

 

 

Arid Australia at the Garden Show, video

Our arid garden installation at the Melbourne International Garden Show seemed to be the only ‘garden’ example not related to people and their leisure activities. We noticed it was those people who had travelled to inland Australia who most appreciated our efforts and who had an interest in how many of our small mammal species are under threat.

 

Communicating species loss…by gardening?

This week Heather and I have been installing a ‘garden’as part of the MIFGUS event, Carlton Gardens, Melbourne. I am using this opportunity to introduce the subject of loss of mammal species to a large audience. Here’s some photos of our week’s work. The rock outcrop is in fact made of recycled cardboard, so lets hope it doesn’t rain!

DSCF9608
A blank canvas, the builders had finished their support stucture and gone.
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Placing the stones and ‘outcrop’
einstalDSCF9613
So far so good, we have to finish by Tuesday
DSCF9622
You can always tell who’s boss.
installingeri
Eri, Rob’s Japanese girlfriend helps out.

installing2

By Saturday 3pm, the garden instal is starting to gel, but we are all gardened out!

Warru copy
This flier will be handed out and kids encouraged encouraged to find a Warru.

120,000 people attend this event.

FOUR DAYS LATER….the installation is finished. Here’s how it looks for opening day (Wednesday 16th March)

installation1

installation2

installation3

installation4

Thanks for all the likes and comments..Peter