Biological survey at Pungalina records three new species

Biological survey at Pungalina records three new species
Sanctuary
Pungalina-Seven Emu
Field Program
Science: surveys and research

July 2014: Our long-term ecological health measurement program at Pungalina-Seven Emu was expanded in 2014 with 38 sites sampled by AWC staff, ecologists and volunteers including:

  • 20 previously established long-term monitoring sites which were last sampled between 2009 and 2011.
  • 12 new long-term monitoring sites, with the aim of adding under represented habitat types to the monitoring site set. This brings the total number of Pungalina long-term monitoring sites to 60.
  • Six sites sampled as once-off sites targeting remote, rocky cliff areas, using helicopter access.

The sites were sampled using standard vertebrate fauna monitoring techniques, including spotlighting, pitfall, Elliot and cage traps, and camera traps. Preliminary results indicate that 2014 captures include a good representation of reptile species although small mammal capture rates remain relatively low.  Our fire management and feral herbivore programs at Pungalina-Seven Emu, combined with our efforts to unlock the secret to effective feral cat control, hold the key to increasing the abundance of small mammals. 

 Delicate Mouse At Pungalina Copyright AWC IMG 4721 J Kemp

The Delicate Mouse (Pseudomys delicatulus) was captured at three sites in 2014 on red sandy soil, including one site where it had been previously undetected. Photo J. Kemp.

Three new vertebrate fauna species were detected at Pungalina - the Crested Bellbird, Pale-striped Ground Gecko (Lucasium immaculatum) and Unbanded Shovel-nosed Snake (Brachyurophis incinctus). A fourth species - a Beaked Gecko (Rhynchoedura) was captured but was too immature to determine to species level. All are extensions to the north or north-east of their previously known range. 

Unbanded Shovel Nosed Snake At Pungalina Copyright AWC E Mulder

Pale Striped Ground Gecko Copyright AWC E Mulder
New species detected at Pungalina: Unbanded Shovel-nosed Snake (Brachyurophis incinctus) (left) and Pale-striped Ground Gecko (Lucasium immaculatum) (right). Photo E. Mulder.

 

12 additional camera traps were set over 11 nights to target Pseudantechinus spp., Rock Ringtails, Rock-rats and other rock-dwelling fauna. The traps recorded a Sandstone Pseudantechinus (Pseudantechinus bilarni), at least one Rock Ringtail Possum (Petropseudes dahli), several Common Rock-rats (Zyzomys argurus) and at least one Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus).

Sandstone Pseudantechinus At Pungalina Copyright AWC IMG 0004 Sml

Sandstone Pseudantechinus (Pseudantechinus bilarni) on a camera trap at Pungalina 2014.

Lambalk Sugar Glider Pungalina 2014 Copyright AWC J Kemp

Lambalk Glider (Petaurus breviceps ariel), a subspecies of Sugar Glider, is currently the subject of research by taxonomists working in northern Australia, including at Mornington. We contributed to this work by capturing one (pictured – Photo J. Kemp) while spotlighting one of the monitoring sites and taking some genetic material.