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Science: surveys and research at Mt Gibson
The level of scientific activity at Mt Gibson is significantly higher than in other protected areas in the region. It will increase further with the establishment of the Neville Tichbon Field Research Station and the reintroduction of regionally extinct mammals.
At Mt Gibson, we undertake more than 5,000 live trap nights each year – plus 30 vegetation surveys, 90 bird surveys and at least 500 camera trap nights annually - to measure a suite of ecological health indicators including the abundance and diversity of key faunal groups (such as woodland birds) and the extent of threatening processes (eg, the density of feral predators).
- We monitor the extant populations of mammals and reptiles twice each year by carrying out standardised surveys at 54 sites spread between each of four different vegetation types, both inside and outside of the area to be surrounded by the feral-proof fence. We also measure the health of the ground cover and shrub layer at these sites. As this program started in 2011, we will have data that will allow us to rigorously assess the impact that removing feral animals has on animals and vegetation.
- In partnership with Birdlife Australia, each year we carry out standardised bird surveys at each of the 54 mammal trapping sites to monitor any changes in species richness and abundance over time.
- In partnership with the Malleefowl Preservation Group, we annually monitor the status of Malleefowl nests at mapped mounds both inside and outside the fenced area.
Once the reintroduction of mammals has commenced, we will be measuring the population of each species on a regular basis.
The Neville Tichbon Field Research Station will provide a well-equipped base from which AWC ecologists, and our scientific partners, can examine a range of key issues affecting biodiversity in the region, taking advantage of the unique research opportunities created by the establishment of a massive feral-free area.