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Science: surveys and research at Scotia
The level of scientific activity at Scotia is likely to be significantly higher than in any other protected area in in western NSW.
Each year, AWC ecologists undertake more than 7,000 live trap nights– plus over 50 vegetation surveys, over 2,000 transects and at least 400 camera trap nights - to measure a suite of ecological health indicators including:
- The population of highly threatened mammals (such as Numbats, Burrowing Bettongs, Bridled Nailtail Wallabies)
- The diversity and abundance of key faunal groups such as threatened mallee birds and ground-dwelling reptiles.
- The significance of threats such as fire, feral herbivore density and weed occupancy.
Scotia is also the base for a substantial scientific research program. Much of this research has examined the effect of removing feral animals and reintroducing small mammal species, several of which undertake important “ecosystem engineering” roles. These projects have involved “before and after” studies as well as contrasting sites within the feral free area with comparable sites outside the feral-free area.
Examples of research projects include:
- Several studies on the ecology of the reintroduced small mammal species (including a PhD student based at the University of Sydney).
- Projects examining the positive ecosystem effects of reintroducing digging mammals – for example, implications for the soil surface, and with it water infiltration and seed germination, the abundance of large insects etc. (La Trobe University and the University of NSW).
- Competition between the two bettong species (University of Queensland).