Biologic helps AWC uncover the diversity on Perth’s back doorstep

Biologic has again partnered with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) at their Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary, this time to document the diversity of terrestrial fauna. Over two weeks in early- and mid-November, a team of four zoologists from Biologic assisted AWC with their annual survey of Paruna. The team set out a series of different trap types to capture mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Paruna forms an important link between the Walyunga and Avon Valley national parks, located on the Darling Scarp less than an hour’s drive to the east of Perth. Biologic’s Gidgegannup Biodiverse Carbon Project (GBCP) shares its northern and western boundaries with Paruna. As the vegetation planted and seeded on the block matures, the GBCP will further contribute to the uninterrupted ecological connection of 19,500 hectares of wandoo and powderbark wandoo woodlands, heathlands and shrublands within the Avon Valley.

The surveys got off to a slow start. Early November was unseasonably cold and rainy, with few animals captured in the traps. Beautiful spring sunrises and the sight of a thick band of fog snaking its way up the valley kept the team’s spirits buoyed. Yet by the end of the two weeks the team recorded more species in greater numbers than in the previous few years of survey. They captured seven mammal, four frog and 27 reptile species, as well as observing more than 30 bird species.

Highlights included finding three male honey possums (Tarsipes rostratus) of breeding age in a single morning, and a 1.5-metre-long mulga snake (Pseudechis australis), a species that had not been recorded at Paruna. The team also trapped four species known to occur at Paruna that had not been recorded previously during this type of survey: beaked blind snake (Anilios waiti), Fraser’s delma (Delma fraseri), south-western crevice skink (Egernia napoleonis) and Gould’s hooded snake (Parasuta gouldii). They also captured the first Burton’s legless lizard (Lialis burtonis) since 1999.

Biologic principal zoologist Chris Knuckey said that the survey provided an opportunity for the team to become better-acquainted with the ecosystems around Gidgegannup, as Biologic works to restore and create habitat for a diverse range of species on the GBCP block.

Photo credit: Robert Audcent