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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: field trip (1)

Live Exhibits’ trip to the Alps

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by Chloe
Publish date
13 April 2011
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This guest post is by Chloe, a Live Exhibits keeper at Melbourne Museum.

At Live Exhibits we like to keep a range of funnel-web species. This way we can represent not only the infamous Sydney Funnel-web spider, but the majority of Australian funnel-web species in our exhibits.

As it had been six years since Live Exhibits’ last trip to Nariel Valley, it was time for Jessie, Patrick and I to pack up the car and head off on a field trip in the to find some Alpine Funnel-webs (Hadronyche alpina).

Alpine Funnel-web Alpine Funnel-web, Hadronyche alpina.
Image: Chloe Miller
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Local resident Mrs Brown originally alerted the museum’s Discovery Centre to the presence of a population of Alpine Funnel-webs in the Nariel Valley and more particularly her front lawn. Young funnel-webs emerge from their mother’s burrow, find an attractive burrow site, and then burrow down, which makes for high density populations. For us, this leads to quick collection of multiple specimens.

After finding three funnel-webs around our campsite it was time to head off to Mrs Brown’s place, where she showed four large burrows. We started digging holes in the mud more than 30cm deep, a process much more lengthy than expected, using only a desert spoon to dig, trying not to destroy Mrs Brown’s lawn or injure the spiders. Finally we produced four plump female funnel-webs (which were less than happy about being disturbed) then we balanced them on a spoon to be transferred into their new glass homes.

Alpine Funnel-web Alpine Funnel-web, Hadronyche alpina
Image: Chloe Miller
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Soaking wet with seven funnel-webs under our belt and no sign of any more, it was time to head off to Omeo.

The following day drove up the windy, fog-covered hills to Mt Hotham, where we began our search for Alpine Thermocolour Grasshoppers (Kosciuscola tristis), Alpine Blistered Pyrgomorphs, (Monistria concinna), Mountain Katydids (Acripeza reticulata) and Alpine Katydids (Tinzeda albosignata).

Alpine Katydid & Alpine Thermocolour Grasshopper Left: Alpine Katydid, Tinzeda albosignata. Right: Alpine Thermocolour Grasshopper Kosciuscola tristis.
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On warmer days these invertebrates would be sitting up on small bushes and grass clumps, enjoying the sun. However on cooler foggy days, like the day of our visit, many of the invertebrates sink lower into the foliage to protect themselves against the elements, making our search a little harder and much wetter. Thankfully I had donned plastic pants and a rain coat which made the perfect outfit, although they didn’t help the situation in my boots, which contained enough water to fill a small lake.

Foggy Mt Hotham Foggy conditions for collecting invertebrates at Mt Hotham.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

During the morning of searching, Patrick’s alter ego Taxon Boy didn’t let us down, helping us bag 48 Thermocolour Grasshoppers, 7 Alpine Katydids, 1 Mountain Katydid, 12 Alpine Blistered Pyrgomorphs and a female Alpine Wolf Spider (Lycosa sp.).

Alpine Wolf Spider, Lycosa sp.. Alpine Wolf Spider, Lycosa sp.
Image: Chloe Miller
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We made one final stop on our long drive back to the museum to collect some eucalyptus for our stick insects; here Taxon Boy also stumbled across some large Garden Orb-weavers (Nephila edulis) which you can now see on display in the Orb wall in Bugs Alive! at Melbourne Museum.

Garden Orb-weaver Garden Orb-weaver, Nephila edulis.
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Infosheet: Spiders of Victoria 

MV Blog: TV Crew in Bugs Alive

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