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Project Activities

Community Events

An important part of this project is engaging the local community in observing, recording and discussing the impact that the 2009 fires had on the local environment. As well as encouraging this by directly working with landholders to survey fauna on their properties (see below), the project puts a high priority on the community getting together to collectively learn and discuss  conservation/management issues, presented by entertaining and informative fauna experts. The project aims to hold such ‘information evenings’ approximately bi-monthly. If you have a particular interest that you think is worth exploring, get in touch and let us know.

To see a list of the project’s community-based activities, simply select the ‘Community Events’ category from the  drop-down list at right.


Although this project is focused primarily on vertebrate wildlife (reptiles, frogs, birds & mammals), any aspects of natural history that are of local interest can be explored and investigated. Several techniques are employed to gather information about fauna in the project area:

Audio recording.

We are using two types of digital audio recorder:

1./Song Meter SM2Bat made by Wildlife Accoustics. This unit allows us to record the ultrasonic vocalizations of micro-bats, as well as normal audio. Each survey site (un/burnt patch of remnant vegetation) was sampled on at least one occasion. The Song Meter records a dawn chorus [sunrise+- 30 min] and a nocturnal segment [sunset+3hrs], each day for three days. Survey-days are selected arbitrarily, but cold, wet weather is avoided where possible.

The calls of all fauna are identified manually, with the assistance of Audacity®, a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. Data analysis generates a species list for each survey site.

In addition, a selection of the Song Meter recordings was uploaded to the Regional Sensor Server digital Acoustic Library at the Remote Environmental Assessment Laboratory (REAL) at Michigan State University. Each sound recording was partitioned to 1 kHz frequency intervals and a normalised power spectral density (PSD) computation was computed for each frequency interval. Indexes for Biophony (Biological sounds) and Anthrophony (Mechanical sounds) based on PSD values were computed for each recording.

2./Sony ICD-PX720/820 portable voice recorder (or equivalent). These inexpensive, hand-held units are easy to use and ideal for involving community members in this project. These recorders are primarily used for frog and bird calls.

Camera Surveys

We’re using Reconyx ‘Hyperfire HC600′ remote cameras, which have a covert IR nocturnal mode. Cameras are set-up on private property in remnant vegetation that is either unburnt, or burnt (in the Feb. 2009 fires). Our aim was to remotely survey nocturnal and diurnal mammals (and other fauna) at numerous sites in the Flowerdale-Strath Creek districts to gain a better understanding of the distribution of mammals across this landscape.

Direct Observation

At each remote survey site (where cameras and Songmeter are deployed), or other sampling site a  20 min bird census is carried out during each visit. This method will allow a general comparison of species diversity in burnt and unburnt vegetation.

The project is also collecting anecdotal records of all natural history information provided by the local community.

Some images of how surveillance cameras and audio recorders were set up in the field. Click on photos to see full screen.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2011 7:12 pm

    How did you choose the site? Was any sort of attractant used?

    • October 26, 2011 4:44 pm

      The sites are all on private land with remnant bush, in and adjacent to the fire-affected region, where the landholder showed an interest in the Focus on Fauna project. The attractant is a mix of peanut butter, golden syrup and oats, which seems to stir the curiosity of a range of animals, without making them desperate to get at it. It’s housed in a container that is inaccessible to all but the tiniest creatures.


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