The following excerts come from an article on the ABC website by Greg Muller about a recent survey in north eastern Victoria. The survey was a collaboration between Parks Victoria, Museum Victoria, community members and 4WD clubs. Check here for an earlier post about this survey.
Areas explored included the Upper Buchan River and Davies Plain.
A key message is at the end of the story: climate change poses a grave threat to many alpine and sub-alpine species.
In a wild corner of north-east Victoria, more than 80 researchers have just spent two weeks counting and documenting rarely seen alpine wildlife.
The remoteness of the region means there is limited knowledge of the area—an issue Museum Victoria and Parks Victoria are now attempting to rectify.
‘There’s good news. We’re delighted we found alpine tree frogs because that’s one species vulnerable to a deadly fungus which has been attacking the frogs,
During the two-week bioscan, 21 species of reptiles were found, including the endangered Kosciusko Water Skink, Glossy Skink and the Mountain Skink.
Two listed species were found, the Broad Tooth Rat and the Smokey Mouse.
There were also two species of Antechinus (a small marsupial mouse indigenous to Australia) found, but at this time of year the population consisted only of females.
Roger Fenwick, the regional manager for Parks Victoria, was instrumental in organising the bioscan and worked to bring researchers, park rangers and locals together for the project.
‘No one group knows everything and it’s great to share the knowledge and get better results as land managers,’ said Mr Fenwick.
‘We invited four wheel drivers to be involved and this means the scientists can get on with doing their work, the Parks staff can concentrate on managing the program, and the four wheel drivers can get everyone around nice and safe.’
Museum Victoria’s senior curator of entomology, Dr Ken Walker documented 400 nests of native bees during the study.
‘What you find is a pile of dirt which looks like a chimney which goes down about 30 centimetres underground,’ he said.
Also at the bioscan was a member of the local indigenous community, Katherine Mullet, who was representing the Gunnai/Kurnai and Monero communities who used to occupy this area.
Ms Mullet was looking for cultural sites, including traditional walking routes, many of which are now 4WD and bushwalking tracks.
Dr Norman explained that climate change is a major threat to alpine wildlife species, which are already living at the edge of their environment.
‘The challenge worldwide with changing climate is if you are at the top of your limit or as far south as you can go, there’s nowhere else to go.’