Photo credit: Frogwatch
I completed my work experience collecting data for Stephanie Pulsford, an ANU PHD student examining at ways in which the connectivity and movement of reptiles and frogs can be improved. Reptiles and frogs in comparison to birds are poor dispersers and so improvements in connectivity can greatly impact their genetic diversity and reduce their risk of extinction.
Limnodynastes dumerili (Pobblebonk/Banjo Frog) Credit: Look and Learn
Here are a couple of the species we found:
Limnodynastes dumerili Photo Credit: Listening Earth
THE SPOTTED MARSH FROG
Limnodynastes tasmaniensis Photo credit: Nick Volpe
THE SMOOTH TOADLET (cute)
Uperoleia laevigata Photo credit: Aaron Payne
THE BROWN SNAKE (not so cute)
Pseudonaja textilis Photo credit: Ian Waldie: Getty Images
Interestingly, and importantly for relevance to landholders, the properties selected were very different. The first was a conventional grazing property which consists of continuous livestock grazing with occasional spells and the second was a time-controlled grazing property where livestock rotation is determined by plant growth. All of the 12 property types in Steph’s study have box-gum woodland remnants and re-vegetation plantings. Our job was to complete surveys on two properties which involved collecting and recording animals in the pitfall traps and drift fences.
Photo credit: Lucy Hannan
The amphibians were injected with a small amount of fluorescent dye so recaptures could be counted. On the first day we found small, immature pobblebonks and then after the rain on the second day we found an adult as large as a small cat.*
Photo credit: Lucy Hannan
Lessons on Perseverance and Science
On the Saturday we spent the best part of 12 hours in the rain. The buckets used in the pitfall traps had filled with water and we had to carefully sieve it out so we could vacuum up the insects and collect the frogs/ small reptiles. The enduring message I have taken from this experience is that science is not just about reading books or getting a pat on the back for coming up with an original idea. Science is about hours and hours of dedication and repetition in the field and most importantly teamwork.
Why is this Research Important?
Research such as this has great potential to beneficially impact small, easily overlooked animals which as poor dispersers are more likely to be negatively impacted when their habitats are fragmented and depleted. Box gum woodland has already been the subject of extensive clearing for agricultural purposes; the significance of this is that it is property owners who have the greatest potential to protect the species within these remnants. Therefore Steph’s work has great relevance as it is designed with the aim of finding solutions which graziers are able to implement easily; its fruits have the ability to be implemented in a practical yet extremely beneficial way for these species. Ultimately if connectivity can be improved these species will have the ability to persist into the future.
Further reading on Box gum grassy woodlands:
By Lucy Hannan u5178114