I have often reflected that the European landscape has such a long history of being used primarily for agriculture, and that that must have meant that today’s custodians with their ever-growing appreciation for lost biodiversity, might treat every remaining biodiversity and landscape asset as being worth a lot more than we do in Australia (where we still have much to lose – despite the worst extinction rate for our unique mammals ON THIS PLANET).
When I visited Europe for the first time on a break from my PhD in the early 2000’s, I was struck by a particular feature of the agricultural landscape in France. There is not a spare square metre. Every metre is used for production…
So I am channeling Seinfeld now – “I can’t spare a square”…
Minnamurra Falls must be the spiritual home of the Lyrebird (at least an adopted one anyway). Nestled in a sandstone ampitheatre, rainforest gullies provide a sheltered haven for these charismatic birds.
Foxes are known to take juvenile Lyrebirds (Ref 1), and there is also evidence that fox control enables populations to rebound (Ref 2). Gratefully, there is a high priority placed on fox control in the National Park by the Plan of Management (Ref 3), and this geographic harbour with a good control program would make a strong-hold. The sheer sandstone cliffs surrounding the gully make a natural barrier to fox incursion from over-the-top, meaning fox control in this locality is easier than more open sites [i.e. those open to reinvasion from all sides].
Seeing Lyrebirds foraging so easily, with their entourage of Yellow Robins and Scrub Wrens picking up the crumbs, inspired me to scrounge around for further info on this amazing creature. So here are some curios I uncovered scratching the surface of the literature litter…
What will the Year of the Monkey bring?
“If a tree falls in the woods in 2015 it will probably be recorded, and we have another year of surprises to look forward to…”
The great wildlife camera trap tales of 2014
According to my Twitter profile, I have been on social media since 2010. It seems to me the camera trap really came of age last year as a tool for publishing ecological interactions instantaneously. Perhaps I followed different people in the year, or a few big labs brought their cameras in for the first time, but there was a plethora of cool stuff captured and shared in Australia in 2014.
I am stoked for the new generation of ecologists with these tools at their disposal, capturing moments of ecological interaction that reams of peer-reviewed publications can’t portray in the same way. Interactions are the essence of ecology, and a picture tells a thousand words. Here I compile some of the most engaging photos and users of camera traps in Australia – let me know if I have missed anyone…
“a spectacular native floriade is now showing, behind the curtain of tree and grass cover in the Canberra Nature Park”
I do quite like going to Floriade once each year, and marveling at the abundance and colour of the exotic flowers. You are certain to see an array of mostly-European flowers arranged in different patterns each year.
However, a much more exciting floriade unfolds at the same time, to nature’s choreography.
Drawing inspiration from averting an ‘extinction crisis’ in Australia is not easy – especially when the crises never seems averted. New leadership and evolving science are underpinning a wave of optimism spawned from successful species reintroduction programs around the country.
Yes, Australia has had a very poor rate of extinction over the last 200 years, but the current rate, since the 1980’s for example, is not what it once was (e.g. the Australian Government reported three species were declared extinct from 2000-2009). Of course all extinctions are irreprehensible – and proactive investment in, and management of, biodiversity is required to keep the rate down and ideally eliminate the prospect of extinction.
Living with lowered expectations
If you moved to Canberra in the early 1900’s you could expect Bettongs in your backyard. Before broadscale grazing and agricultural development we could pick native Australian daisies instead of European flatweeds and dandelions in regional towns. Bandicoots were once common in Sydney backyards. If you were a kid growing up on the farm in NSW in 1800’s Pygmy Perch probably provided an easy-caught baitfish for bigger native perch! Our baseline of expectation has been reduced by the lower level of quality of landscape that we now broadly experience.
A novel and exciting future…