Cultural Training at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies - Curtin University.

by Biologic Environmental Survey
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Over the past few months, Biologic's staff have participated in three cultural competency training sessions at the Centre of Aboriginal Studies - Curtin University.

Our staff participated in various exercises aimed at increasing our internal knowledge, respect and understanding of Indigenous culture.

Each session began with a discussion on the differences between Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements to Country, and the appropriate language and protocols when introducing yourself. These discussions moved into a broader conversation on the differences between Aboriginal worldviews and the dominant western worldview, and how they dictate our relationships to land and country.

The training also educated staff on the names and geography of the diverse Aboriginal language groups in Western Australia, particularly the Noongar people and the 6 seasons they follow. Each season has traditional significance and represents the changes in weather, animals, and plants.

 

Biologic staff undertaking cultural training at Curtin University's Centre for Aboriginal Studies. (photo: Stephen van Leeuwen)

Biologic staff undertaking cultural training at Curtin University's Centre for Aboriginal Studies. (photo: Prof. Stephen van Leeuwen)Biologic staff creating a visual representation of Aboriginal language groups and Country. (photo: Stephen van Leeuwen) Biologic staff creating a visual representation of Aboriginal language groups and Country. (photo: Prof. Stephen van Leeuwen)

 

The second portion of the session was an interactive presentation called Wogga Warniny, which took participants through the journey of Colonisation in Western Australia and its impact on Aboriginal people throughout the state. This exercise presented knowledge and history that some participants had not experienced before, which expanded their contextual understanding of Colonisation and allowed them to empathise with Aboriginal people's experiences.

 

To conclude the training we participated in a yarning circle, which offered a shared moment of reflection and an opportunity for each participant to express the feelings that the day had brought to them.

 

We would like to express our appreciation to Jayde Conway and Ingrid Cumming for coordinating the training, which has given an invaluable opportunity to examine and understand our relationship with Aboriginal people and country.

Biologic staff participating in Wogga Warniny (photo: Stephen van Leeuwen) Biologic staff participating in Wogga Warniny (photo: Prof. Stephen van Leeuwen)

 

Extinction Risk of the World's Skinks

by Biologic Environmental Survey
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Perth slider or lined skink (Lerista lineata), currently listed as Priority 3 by DBCA and Endangered under the IUCN Red List (R.J. Ellis)

Perth slider or lined skink (Lerista lineata), currently listed as Priority 3 by DBCA and Endangered under the IUCN Red List (R.J. Ellis)

 

Biologic Principal Zoologist and IUCN SSC Skink Specialist Group member Ryan Ellis recently published a paper in Biological Conservation on the conservation status of the world’s skinks (family Scincidae). The publication was the result of a collaborative effort with members of the Skink Specialist Group from around the globe investigating the taxonomic and geographic patterns in extinction risk of the reptiles collectively known as skinks, a group comprising more than 1,700 species globally.

 

From the large and locally common bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa) to the small and cryptic common dwarf skink (Menetia greyii) with a near continental distribution, or the Pilbara endemic and range restricted Nevin’s three-toed slider (Lerista nevinae), Australia supports a wide range of species and represents a global hotspot of skink diversity.

 

The Priority 4 Pilbara endemic lined soil-crevice skink (Notoscincus butleri) from Pyramid Station, WA (R.J. Ellis)

The Priority 4 Pilbara endemic lined soil-crevice skink (Notoscincus butleri) from Pyramid Station, WA (R.J. Ellis)

 

Western spiny-tailed skink (Egernia stokesii badia) from Mount Gibson area, listed as Vulnerable (BC Act) and Endangered (EPBC Act). Currently listed as Least Concern under the IUCN Redlist as assessments only consider species level conservation (R.J. Ellis)

Western spiny-tailed skink (Egernia stokesii badia) from Mount Gibson area, listed as Vulnerable (BC Act) and Endangered (EPBC Act).

Currently listed as Least Concern under the IUCN Redlist as assessments only consider species level conservation (R.J. Ellis)

 

The research highlights that, of the 92% (~1,578) of globally distributed species assessed, approximately 20% are considered threatened with extinction (i.e. Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered). This result is consistent with previous estimates of ~19% global average for reptile extinction risk. Globally, the regions with the highest percentage of threatened species occur in Madagascar (~42%) and Neotropics (Central and South America) (~47%), with highest number of threatened species overall occurring in New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Madagascar.

 

Although Australia represents one of the global hotspots for skink species diversity, the percentage of species considered threatened was much less compared to other diversity hotpots, with approximately 19% considered threatened. While this is consistent with the ~19% global average estimates for all reptiles, it is substantially higher to the 7.1% previously determined for all Australian squamates (see previous blog post HERE), indicating skinks are representative of greater extinction risk in Australian squamates. Currently 34 (~16%) of the 233 skink species or subspecies occurring in Western Australia are listed as conservation significance (Priority or threatened).

 

 The Vulnerable (BC Act) gilled slender bluetongue (Cyclodomorphus branchialis) from near Kalbarri, WA (R.J. Ellis)

The Vulnerable (BC Act) gilled slender bluetongue (Cyclodomorphus branchialis) from near Kalbarri, WA (R.J. Ellis)

 The Priority 2 northeast spotted ctenotus (Ctenotus uber johnstonei) from Balgo, WA (R.J. Ellis)

The Priority 2 northeast spotted ctenotus (Ctenotus uber johnstonei) from Balgo, WA (R.J. Ellis)

 

Globally, small or restricted geographic ranges were the contributing factor for the increased extinction risk of the majority of species, with habitat loss or degradation due to agriculture, invasive species and/or biological resource use identified as the primary contributors of declines.

The biologic vertebrate fauna team are currently involved in a number of research projects aiming to facilitate better management and conservation outcomes for some Western Australian skink species, including the Priority 3 listed Perth slider (Lerista lineata) and western spiny-tailed skink (Egernia stokesii badia) listed as Vulnerable under the Western Australian BC Act and Endangered under the national EPBC Act.

For more information or a copy of the publication, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Biologic Admin Team or Ryan directly.

Reconciliation Week 2021

by Biologic Environmental Survey
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Today is the first day of National Reconciliation week 2021 (27th May to 3rd June). This year's theme is 'More than a word. Reconciliation takes action', encouraging us to advance Reconciliation through more impactful and effectual actions.

 

Biologic supports bold Reconciliation action and is committed to building relationships that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

 

You can find out more about National Reconciliation Week in the links below.

nrw.reconciliation.org.au/actions-for-reconciliation/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMhfKLiC5Rk

National Reconciliation Week 2021 Poster (image: Reconciliation Australia)National Reconciliation Week 2021 Poster (image: Reconciliation Australia)