Questabird – more like Questafun! Australian Wildlife Services helped review the iPhone app now available for free download from the App Store. It is also available on Android.
This app combines new app gaming technology with wildlife science. Kids and big kids can join in to locate and photograph birds and other wildlife in the wild to receive points and gold. Join a quest or top the leader board, with real sightings going to the very important Atlas of Living Australia’s database (ala.org.au). See http://www.questabird.com/ for more information.
Current Quests created by AWS in Australia are shown below. Quests can be used by researchers and government interested in locating certain species – verified sightings become useable data.
Australian Wildlife Services has been working with ACT Parks and Wildlife Services and TAMS to develop some maps of the new proposed Molonglo River Reserve for inclusion in the MRR Plan of Management. The reserve covers the lower Molonglo River past Scrivener Dam almost all the way to the confluence with the Murrumbidgee River. The Plan of Management is currently in draft and will be made public for consultation later in the year.
Australian Wildlife Services undertook bird and vegetation surveys on Toogimbie Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in April. Toogimbie are using their cultural access licence (water) as well as revegetation and pest management strategies to rehabilitate their wetlands. The wetlands have cultural and environmental significance in the region. Surveys focused on birds and wetland vegetation, in particular setting up of long-term monitoring transects and collection of baseline data. The Toogimbie Rangers will then be able to repeat the surveys over time to show environmental change as a result of their land management activities. Opportunistic records of frogs were also collected. Further surveys are still needed in bats, reptiles, mammals and water quality pending funding. Indigenous Protected Areas across Australia need more scientific support to undertake a range of environmental improvement activities. More information on Toogimbie IPA and the Nari Nari Tribal Council.
There are extensive kangaroo population surveys undertaken in Australia throughout the kangaroo harvesting commercial zones. Population estimates from these areas are used to set yearly harvesting quotas to ensure a sustainable kangaroo population and industry. However, there are extensive areas outside of the commercial zone with kangaroos that are not included in these population estimates. There hasn’t been a national population estimate of kangaroo numbers in Australia since 1987 (Caughley et al 1987). Australian Wildlife Services is undertaking a project that will aim to utilise known population densities in the commercial zone to extrapolate to the un-surveyed areas for the red kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, western grey kangaroo. Extrapolation will be undertaken using ecologically based GIS modelling and Maximum Entropy Modeling (MAXENT - run through the Atlas of Living Australia’s Spatial Portal). Using climatic and physical environmental variables, Australian Wildlife Services is attempting to define why are kangaroos where they are and why some densities are greater than others. The aim is to produce a conservative population estimate of the three species in Australia.
NNTC Office Hay NSW
The Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin visited Toogimbie IPA with Australian Wildlife Services in August 2013 in order to meet with the Nari Nari Tribal Council and traditional owners about possible Rotary Support for their cultural and land management activities. The rangers and traditional owners guided Rotary around their property (an Indigenous Protected Area) and discussed some of the issues that they face. Out of the trip, Rotary commissioned a report to develop the ideas of the Toogimbie IPA’s management of water allocations and wetland restoration, and to discuss possible Rotary support projects. For more info on the good work of CBG Rotary see here.
Australian Wildlife Services partnered with the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG), the ACT Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate and ACT Surveyor-Generals Office to produce a series maps depicting how the vegetation and landscape of Canberra might have been like before European settlement based on observations by early explorers and surveyors.
The maps are part of the the 2113: A Canberra Odyssey exhibition open at CMAG between Sat 13 July – Sun 3 November 2013.
Title: “The state of vegetation, waterways and the general landscape in the Canberra region c1813 based on observations by early explorers and surveyors”.
The maps were developed in reference to Bill Gammage’s book “The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia” with his interpretation of the Canberra Landscape under Aboriginal land management at the time of the first explorers as well as detailed surveyor maps produced by Robert Hoddle in 1832.
For more information see: http://www.museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au/
AWS attended the World Indigenous Network (WIN) conference in Darwin in 26th-30th May 2013 to represent Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area, Northern Territory with Senior Ranger David Wongway and IPA Manager Tim Lander.
The WIN Conference Program has a comprehensive agenda on land and sea management issues towards building an enduring World Indigenous Network. The World Indigenous Network Conference Program will cover five themes with a range of topics that are relevant and engaging to Indigenous and Local Community land and sea managers from around the world.
An article was written in the Sydney Morning Herald about the conference. Senior David Ranger made it into the newspaper (see his photo here).
AWS visited the IPA Rangers from the Toogimbie IPA Hay, NSW and rangers at Nantawarrina IPA in South Australia to undertake some CyberTracker development and training between March and May 2013 as part of SEWPAC’s CyberTracker Program. We worked together to customise the GPS tracking program CyberTracker to fit the IPA work plan and needs. We developed sequences to GPS track feral animal and weed management, wildlife and birds, rainfall, fencing, cultural and burial site management, revegetation and seed collection, important plants, bushtucker, road maintenance, fire management, visitor management and more.
Australian Wildlife Services has contributed to the recently published, thought provoking book ‘Science Under Siege’ published by The Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, November 2012.
The ‘Science Under Siege’ volume has many papers of interest regarding misuse or abuse of science in today’s society. Cooney et al. expose THINKK’s abuse of science in relation to kangaroo harvesting and Menna Jones exposes flaws in the way some ethics committees operate.
George Wilson and Jenny Smits contributed to the article “THINKK again: getting the facts straight on kangaroo harvesting and conservation” by R. Cooney, M. Archer, A. Baumber, P. Ampt, G. Wilson, J. Smits and G. Webb. The article can be downloaded here: THINKK again: getting the facts straight on kangaroo harvesting and conservation - PDF 237.41 kB - 2013-01-15 . The full publication, Science Under Siege, is available Open Access through the Royal Zoological Society of NSW, and the address for this is: http://rzsnsw.metapress.com/
AWS staff member, Jenny Smits, has been running around Canberra undertaking various volunteer surveys for the Canberra Ornithological Group and the CSIRO. Surveys include targeted surveys for superb parrots within areas touted to become new suburbs in Canberra’s north, and landscape connectivity surveys where the role of paddock trees are being assessed in the movement of birds across the landscape. Jenny Smits was also able to help Chris Davey assess the breeding Silver Gull population on Spiniker Island, Lake Burley Griffin, on 14 December.