Biologic at Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary

In August, Biologic’s short-range endemic (SRE) team visited the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary in Gidgegannup. Located on the border of our own Gidgegannup Biodiverse Carbon Project, Paruna recently made the news after a surprising camera capture of a red-tailed phascogale — a marsupial that hadn’t been spotted in the area for decades. As the closest known population of the red-tailed phascogale is located more than 100 km away, the sighting signals the promising possibility of Paruna being recolonised by these rare animals. It’s also a testament to the restoration and management efforts of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and their hardworking volunteers and scientists.

Prior to this exciting development, Australian Wildlife Conservancy ecologists Dr Amanda Bourne and Dr Bryony Palmer invited the Biologic team to carry out an SRE invertebrate survey to supplement the conservancy’s extensive knowledge of fauna in the sanctuary. SRE invertebrates are invertebrate species whose known range is less than 100 km x 100 km or 10,000 km2. A number of invertebrate taxa contain SRE species, and their reduced range is influenced by several factors including reproductive rates, dispersal capabilities, and historical conditions. We were delighted to help the Australian Wildlife Conservancy better understand these crucial creatures in their sanctuary.

Amanda and Bryony graciously hosted us over the course of a day and accompanied us to 6 sites in the southern half of the sanctuary. Our ecologists collected a diverse range of invertebrates in SRE groups, including large polydesmid millipedes in the SRE group Antichiropus.

Antichiropus sp.

We also encountered a number of selenopid (flat rock spiders). These SRE spiders inhabit rocky outcrops and have impressive camouflage skills and some of the fastest getaway speeds of any invertebrate. Paruna has a number of granite outcrops that provide excellent habitat to these rock-dwelling spiders.

Karaops sp. (Selenopidae)

Karaops sp.

Symphyla sp.

Overall, we collected 12 selenopid spiders, 27 pseudoscorpions, five scorpions, 33 centipedes, 9 millipedes, 7 earthworms, 4 snails, 2 flatworms, 7 symphylan or soil centipedes, 2 Opiliones (harvestmen), and 68 terrestrial isopods. We intend to provide the Australian Wildlife Conservancy with a list of species and additional information about each group once we identify these specimens. Our hope is that this will be added to the conservancy’s fauna species list, providing robust evidence of the value of protecting and managing these small sanctuaries.

The Paruna sanctuary is on the border of Biologic’s Gidgegannup Biodiverse Carbon Project, and we intend to conduct a similar survey at this site soon. While we hope to find some diversity of SRE invertebrates there, it is unlikely that it will be as rich as Paruna, as the land is a degraded farmland. However, once restoration is underway, Paruna will provide a great source population for these short-ranging species. And if appropriate habitat is fostered in the Gidgegannup Restoration Project, it will one day also be home to some of these unique animals.