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Project Activities

Community Events

An important part of this project was 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 put 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 has held 22 information presentations since it started in 2011 and aims to continue holding them when suitable speakers can be arranged. If you have a particular interest that you think is worth exploring, get in touch by emailing focusonfauna@gmail.com 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.

Surveys

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

Audio recording.

We used two types of digital audio recorder:

1./Song Meter SM2Bat made by Wildlife Accoustics. This unit allowed 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 recorded a dawn chorus [sunrise+- 30 min] and a nocturnal segment [sunset+3hrs], each day for three days. Survey days were selected arbitrarily, but cold, wet weather was avoided where possible.

The calls of all fauna were identified manually, with the assistance of Audacity®, a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. Data analysis generated 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 were primarily used for frog and bird calls.

Camera Surveys

We used and continue to deploy on occasions, Reconyx ‘Hyperfire HC600′ remote cameras, which have a covert IR nocturnal mode. Cameras were set up on private property in remnant vegetation that was 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 sites, a  20 min bird census was carried out during each visit. This method allowed 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.

Trackbacks

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