Six years into monitoring of the Environmental Stewardship Study and the research team is turning up a number of species outside their ranges, and new species to the study. Doing the rounds of the Stewardship Study sites isn’t easy. Over 300 monitoring sites across 153 properties require regular bird, reptile, and vegetation surveys. Furthermore, the sites are located from Narranderra in southern NSW, through to Warwick in Queensland. These can take as much as 4 months to survey!
The most recent round of vegetation surveys in April 2016 also involved checks of artificial substrates (timber sleepers, sheets of tin, and roofing tiles) for mammals and reptiles. Despite dry conditions in some areas, the surveys yielded a bumper year of Common Dunnarts. But also, a couple of unexpected species turned up during the surveys. On a site near Bungendore we found three threatened Little Whip Snakes and on a Stewardship site near Michelago we found our first White-footed Dunnart (35km range extension) for the study. Whistling Treefrog also turned up for the first time on a number of our sites around the Canberra area.
The study recorded two Carpentaria Snakes on a Stewardship Study site west of Tenterfield in northern NSW. Considered a Queensland endemic, this is only the second record of Carpentaria Snake outside of Queensland. Although these sites have been surveyed every second year since 2010, the Carpentaria Snakes are a new species for the study. Turning up new records highlights the benefits of continuing ecological monitoring long term.
Next week the team is again repeat surveying the Stewardship Study northern sites for reptiles, this time after some good rains – we look forward to sharing with you any new discoveries from this coming round of monitoring!