Rock around the clock

NACC staff were fortunate enough to join a team of more than 50 amateur and professional ecologists  at Wheatbelt NRM’s 2016 BioBlitz at Tarin Rock Reserve last weekend.

Tarin Rock Reserve is about 26km west of Lake Grace, and named after Tarin Rock – the highest point in the region at 429m above sea level.

The BioBlitz weekend involves a 24-hour intensive search aimed at identifying as many species of plant, animal and fungi as possible within the time period. The BioBlitz won’t provide a complete inventory of all of species on the reserve; but rather a “snapshot” of what species were observed in the area at the time. Yet, despite its limited time-frame, the BioBlitzes still turn-up some pretty amazing results.

The 24-hour survey period comprised three main survey sessions: one in the afternoon/early evening of 8 October, and two in the morning of 9 October – beginning and ending the 24-hour survey period at 1 pm.

There were up to six groups for each session, led by experts who specialised in invertebrates, reptiles, eucalypts, flora, mammals and birds. Participants opportunistically collected information on sightings of fauna, or indications of their presence (such as tracks, scats, calls and digs), as well as carrying out the target methodology, or looking for the target species, of their activity.

The full list of species found will be released by Wheatbelt NRM shortly, but one highlight for NACC’s Biodiversity Coordinator Jessica Stingemore was the southern scrub robin.

“We were up early to check to the mammal traps and had eagerly hoped to find a western mouse, because the day before we found evidence that the mice had been in area, as there were dozens of quandong seed with ‘drill’ holes in the seeds,” said Jessica. “However, all the traps were empty! But just as we were about to head home, we heard the distinctive call of the scrub robin.”

“Leigh Whisson from Wheatbelt NRM then mimicked the robin and it cautiously approached the group and called back and forth for about ten minutes. Everyone present was in awe.”

The data obtained during the BioBlitz will provide a useful indicator of environmental quality and serves as a baseline for future monitoring and management of the reserves.

Read about what Wheatbelt NRM had to say about the event and view the picture gallery.

Did You Know?

NACC CEO Richard McLellan initiated the first-ever BioBlitz to be held in Western Australia (possibly even Australia) – at Lake McDermott Reserve, near Bencubbin in the Shire of Mount Marshall, in 2002.

The inaugural BioBlitz was conducted by WWF under its Wheatbelt Woodlands Conservation Project (Woodland Watch). An impressive 284 species were recorded in the reserve during that first Wheatbelt BioBlitz, and you can read the BioBlitz report here.



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