Science: surveys and research at Wongalara

Science: surveys and research at Wongalara

Radio-collared Pale Field Rat released at Wongalara.

AWC has a dedicated field ecologist based at Wongalara.  Together with other AWC field ecologists who spend time at Wongalara, plus skilled volunteers and interns, our science team measures more than 20 indicators of ecological health. We do this by undertaking fauna, bird and vegetation surveys, camera trap nights for feral predators and dingoes, aerial surveys for feral herbivores and censuses of indicator species such as Brown Quail.  

For example, in 2013 AWC field ecologists carried out 8,710 vertebrate trap nights (at 52 sites), 13,805 camera trap nights, 49 bird surveys, 132 vegetation surveys and 200 kms of aerial transects for feral herbivores. 

This extensive survey effort is also building our biological inventory for Wongalara:  recent surveys have confirmed that several species of the guild of small-medium sized mammals that have been lost from much of northern Australia still occur on Wongalara: Water Rat, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Northern Brushtail Possum, Rock Ringtail Possum and the Spectacled Hare Wallaby.

A large number of research projects are also being carried out at Wongalara to address key issues such as:

  • The response of fauna and vegetation to the removal of feral herbivores (with matching sites inside and outside our feral herbivore free area).   
  • The impact of feral cats:  this research, carried out as part of a project funded by the Australian Research Council and involving a range of partners, utilises purpose built feral cat-free fenced areas at Wongalara, into which small native mammals have been reintroduced (eg, Pale Field Rat).  It examines the impact of feral cats on small mammals and reptiles. 
  • The relationship between dingoes and feral cats.