Frog ID Week

This week is the Australian Museums FrogID Week, Australia’s biggest frog count!

Frogs are a sign of a healthy environment, but around Australia frogs are declining and many are endangered. By counting Australia’s frogs we can learn more about where they are and how they’re doing.

There’s no way scientists can count Australia’s frogs on their own. The country’s too big and there’s too many frogs! That’s where you come in. With FrogID, citizen scientists just like you can help us put frogs on the map!

If you’d like to contribute, download the Australian Museum’s FrogID App onto your phone and start recording your frog calls!

Our Restoration Ecologist, Lisa Farnsworth has just completed analysing 3360 hours (1600GB) of frog call recordings collected over 4 years at Winton Wetlands by our local volunteer Rod Sherlock.

The purpose of this analysis was to confirm the absence of Growling Grass Frogs (Litoria raniformis) on the site, a species that has not been recorded at Winton Wetlands since 1970.

In the process of the analyses, the most common frog species detected on the recordings were the Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis), the Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera), the Eastern sign-bearing Froglet (Crinia parinsignifera) and the Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii).

Many thanks to Dr Karen Rowe from Museum Victoria for assistance with setting up the analyser software for this work and to the Wettenhall Environment Trust for funding the work.

Determining the current kangaroo populations at Winton Wetlands

The Winton Wetlands ecology team have recently been carrying out surveys to determine the need for controlling local kangaroo populations.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Black-tailed Swamp Wallabies were surveyed using Line Transect methodology from sunrise to 9:30am when the species were more likely to be active. A total of 65km of transects spread throughout the Winton Wetlands reserve were surveyed on three separate occasions.

Results:

  • Average of 64- Eastern Grey Kangaroos per survey
  • Average of 8 Black-tailed Swamp Wallabies observed per survey
  • Kangaroo density of 0.33 per hectare (estimated using conventional distance sampling method)

Based on these results, we estimate the reserve currently holds approximately 3000 kangaroos.

“These densities are less that half of the suggested target density of one kangaroo per hectare for grasslands (ACT Kangaroo Management Plan, 2017) and also below the economic carrying capacity of 0.5 kangaroos per hectare (DEWLP), said Winton Wetlands Restoration Ecologist Dr Lisa Farnsworth.

These results will be incorporated into a Winton Wetlands Kangaroo Management Plan that will detail the following:

  • Kangaroo survey methods and results
  • Fence removal to reduce road safety concerns
  • New vegetation monitoring techniques
  • Future student research opportunities

“The survey results, combined with our highly successful revegetation program have lead us to conclude that, from an ecological perspective, active kangaroo control on the reserve is unnecessary at this stage,’ Dr Farnsworth commented.

In addition to the recent survey work, Winton Wetlands, in partnership with the Friends of Winton Wetlands team have commenced the removal of 12km of unnecessary roadside fencing on the reserve. The fencing that is being removed opens the reserve to create a safer path for native species to disperse and will reduce the likelihood of them becoming trapped in the fences or ‘funneled” along the roadway.

On a state-wide scale, the Victorian Government has recently commenced a permanent Kangaroo Harvesting Program to control increasing kangaroo populations. The new programs is administered by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and includes strict safeguards to ensure harvesting is carries out at a sustainable level, that animal welfare standards are met and that the livelihoods of farmers are protected. Landowners or harvesters interested in being involved in the Kangaroo Harvesting Program should visit agriculture.vic.gov.au. All enquiries should be emails to kangarooharvesting@ecodev.vic.gov.au or call 136 186

 

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Image by Matt Devine

Increasing Biodiversity

Media Release | 23 May 2019

World Biodiversity Day was recently celebrated and is in perfect timing with the recent discovery of evidence of increasing biodiversity at Winton Wetlands.

The team of staff and volunteers at Winton Wetlands and the Friends of Winton Wetlands have been working towards natural habitat renewal and recently, two major species, the Squirrel Glider and the Rakali, have been sighted at Winton Wetlands proving the continuing success of the team’s restoration efforts.

The Rakali (Australian water-rat) is an attractive and large aquatic mammal that resembles a small otter and they have just been discovered onsite at the Mokoan Ponds! This sighting is the first at the Wetlands for almost 40 years. It is thought that water-rat numbers have declined in many places in south eastern Australia, particularly since the mid-1990s, and our sighting is evidence of conditions improving for these species.

Similarly, Squirrel Gliders were discovered again at Winton Wetlands late last year, which is another first in 40 years. While the Squirrel Glider is widespread on the east coast of Australia, it is uncommon, and it is very exciting to have a population calling Winton Wetlands home!

In the woodlands, nest boxes are benefiting the population of Squirrel Gliders. ‘The discovery of Gliders points to the very strong value of corridors to allow species to recolonise the site and therefore increase the area’s biodiversity’, said Lance Lloyd, restoration scientist at Winton Wetlands.

‘Likewise, the improvement of habitats at the Mokoan Ponds in terms of aquatic vegetation, carp control and woody debris has meant Murray Cod can thrive’, said Lance.

Murray Cod, a native freshwater fish listed as vulnerable, have declined significantly in numbers across the Murray-Darling basin due to overfishing, river regulation, and habitat degradation. Despite the near absence of water, Murray Cod are present in our permanent water bodies and this shows the obvious importance of habitat improvements as a restoration process. Having rediscovered the species at the Wetlands in the past few years, we are proud to have evidence of prolific breeding and a healthy juvenile survival rate.

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