Science: surveys and research at Tableland

Science: surveys and research at Tableland

An AWC ecologist supervises Elton from the Yulmbu community as he measures a small mammal captured during the 2012 survey.

An important initial focus of the Tableland science program is to generate a comprehensive inventory of the species present within the sanctuary. To this end, AWC field ecologists have been employing a range of survey techniques (including standard trapping, hair tube surveys, camera trap surveys and track and scat observations).   

AWC ecologists undertake annually around 2,000 live trap nights, more than 1,500 camera trap nights and 200km + of aerial surveys for feral herbivores as part of this inventory work and to measure a suite of ecological health indicators at Tableland. 

These indicators include:

  • The abundance and density of small animals that rely on a structurally and functionally intact ground layer including: diurnal skinks, small mammals, Brown Quail and Red-backed Fairy-wren.
  • The abundance of White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris) an ancient Gondwanan conifer that is a relic of a wetter climate and more fire sensitive than eucalypts, but nevertheless persists in the fire-prone northern Australian landscape.

Annual monitoring of dingo and feral cat activity began in 2013 using mark-recapture analysis from camera trap images by identifying individual Dingoes and cats to derive a density estimate.  This work is part of a larger project investigating the influence of land management techniques on cat activity in northern Australia.