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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: lake condah (6)

Budj Bim rangers

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 June 2011
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Comments (2)

In March this year, MV scientists spent 10 days surveying the biodiversity of the Lake Condah area in a program called Bush Blitz. The project could never have happened without the collaboration and assistance of the Gunditjmara community, the Traditional Owners of Budj Bim lands around Lake Condah.

On Friday last week, the museum was pleased to return the hospitality and show a group of Budj Bim rangers and Traditional Owners around the collection stores and laboratories of the Natural Sciences Department.

Budj Bim rangers in store Budj Bim rangers in the Ornithology store, surrounded by the museum's collection of bird specimens.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Head of Sciences, Mark Norman, led a tour through the ornithology, entomology and marine collection stores. The bird collection was their favourite but the giant squid in its huge tank of ethanol was a special highlight too.

  Mark Norman showing the giant squid Mark Norman showing an amazing but somewhat pungent giant squid specimen.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Today’s visit was a chance to show the rangers what has happened to the Lake Condah specimens they helped to collect, and the sort of research done in the museum. We hope they’ll visit us again soon. Until then, here's a reminder of the significance of Lake Condah and the aquaculture practiced there by Gunditjmara people for thousands of years. In this video, Joseph Saunders explains eel farming and traditional life at Lake Condah.

 

Links:

Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape

Mountain Katydids

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
12 April 2011
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Comments (10)

During the recent Bush Blitz biodiversity survey at Lake Condah, there was one insect that intrigued even the staunchest vertebrate biologists — the Mountain Katydid (Acripeza reticulata).

In this video, Patrick, Rowena and David from Live Exhibits talk about these unusual katydids and how they're establishing a colony of them at Melbourne Museum.

Watch this video with a transcript

Katydids are in the family Tettigoniidae, otherwise known as bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers due to their very long antennae. The name 'katydid' comes from the noise that they make by rubbing their wings together which, in some species, sounds like katy-did, katy-did.

Bush Blitz is a three-year biodiversity discovery program supported by the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) AusPlots.

Links:

Mountain Katydid on Caught and Coloured

MV Blog: Bush Blitz finds

Bush Blitz video

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
7 April 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

In this video, Head of Sciences Mark Norman and Gunditjmara Elder Ken Saunders talk about the recent Bush Blitz project at Lake Condah.

Watch this video with a transcript

More Bush Blitz video is coming soon!

Bush Blitz is a three-year national project to document plants and animals protected in Australia’s National Reserve System. Bush Blitz is a multi-million dollar partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and the Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) AusPlots. It involves Australia’s top scientists from museums, herbariums and research institutions across the country.

Links:

Bush Blitz

Lake Condah Sustainable Development Project

ABC Mission Voices: Lake Condah

Bush Blitz frogs

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
28 March 2011
Comments
Comments (4)

There are records of seven species of frogs here in the Lake Condah region; all seven are relatively common across south-eastern Australia. Last week, MV frog experts Josh Hale and Katie Smith tracked down six of the seven species within a day or two. The last one, the Southern Toadlet (Pseudophryne semimarmorata) is proving elusive but Josh is back this week to keep looking.

On rainy nights, we’ve seen frogs hopping around the base camp. Bush Blitzers have found them by turning over rocks where they shelter during the day. They've also been identified by the distinctive calls of the males.

Pobblebonk frog Pobblebonk or Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilli) at Lake Condah Mission. This frog was found moving over mown grass.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Froglet The Southern Smooth Froglet, Geocrinia laevis.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Many of the frogs we’ve seen are young juveniles, which means they were tadpoles over the past season. Josh remarked on the unusually large numbers of young frogs and attributes this to the very wet summer; the same conditions that have kept the vegetation unseasonably green. It’s an indication that frogs can build up populations quickly here and recover after years of drought.

Green morph of Brown Tree Frog Green morph of Brown Tree Frog, Litoria ewingii. This species is more often brown.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Brown Tree Frog Brown Tree Frog, Litoria ewingii, in its more common brown morph.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

“Many frogs all round the world are declining so to see healthy breeding populations like this is really encouraging,” says Josh. Frogs make up an important part of the food chain and become prey for birds, mammals and reptiles.

striped marsh frog Striped Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes peronii. These frogs are remarkably well camouflaged.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Spotted Marsh Frog Spotted Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Bush Blitz is a three-year biodiversity discovery program supported by the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) AusPlots.

Links:

Frogs of Victoria

Bush Blitz finds

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
23 March 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

This morning Patrick Honan from Live Exhibits instructed the Bush Blitz team to keep an eye out for Mountain Katydids (Acripeza reticulata). These are large, robust long-horned grasshoppers that are usually found in cold high-altitude areas so Patrick was surprised to see them recorded in a previous ecological survey of Lake Condah. Ranger Brad Williams and botanist Val Stajsic brought in two specimens from Muldoons that they’d found on Tuesday, suggesting that they’re reasonably common here.

Muldoons is property adjacent to the Lake Condah Mission site but getting there is not straightforward. There was a bridge decades ago dating back to when it was the hunting ground for people living on the mission. Matt Butt, the Coordinator of Land Management, explained that the bridge was washed away in a heavy flood in the 1940s. The road into the property was built only five years ago and the terrain is incredibly rocky. It’s also incredibly beautiful; the bush is largely intact since the ground was too rocky to be any good for agriculture. The ground is dotted with rock-lined sinkholes in the lava flow from Mount Eccles (known to Gunditjmara people as Budj Bim, meaning ‘high head’). Some of the sinkholes are full of water where Remko Leijs, from the South Australian Museum, has sampled the small crustaceans that live in the groundwater. Later in Bush Blitz some of the MV marine scientists will put on their SCUBA gear to film the wildlife of these water bodies.

Most of the MV biologists were at Muldoons for a couple of hours this morning and found some amazing animals. And yes, one of them was a Mountain Katydid plodding through low grass just a metre away from the road. She’s a female and particularly fat, possibly because she’s full of eggs. She’s gone back to Melbourne Museum with the Live Exhibits staff where they hope she will be the start of a captive colony for display.

female Mountain Katydid Female Mountain Katydid found at Muldoons.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Budj Bim rangers Simone Sailor-Smith and Deb Rose caught a beautiful Jewel Spider (Austracantha minax). Another amazing find was a Peripatus or velvet worm. These are ancient animals that share some characteristics with worms and some with arthropods, and haven’t changed much in millions of years.

Peripatus The tiny and beautiful velvet worm found at Muldoons.
Image: julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We also found scorpions, centipedes, beetles, lacewings, ants and lizards. Where possible, the team is only collecting the first specimen that is caught and releasing subsequent finds. For birds and mammals, the surveys are by sight, by ear or through capture and release. The birders spent a few hours this afternoon at Lake Condah and reported breeding Musk Ducks plus three Reed Warblers which is interesting because they have usually flown north by this time of year.

leech One of the hungry tiger leeches that are common in swamps, on low shrubs, and clinging to Bush Blitzers!
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Of course, all this time we're spending in swamps is great for one local animal - the leech. We've all become quite good at spotting and flicking leeches before they latch on to feed, but some of us have still become hosts for these blood-sucking parasites...

Peter with leech Peter Lillywhite with a leech feeding on his neck.
Image: Berlinda Bowler
Source: Berlinda Bowler
 

Bush Blitz is a three-year biodiversity discovery program supported by the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) AusPlots.

Lake Condah Bush Blitz

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
22 March 2011
Comments
Comments (6)

The only way to learn about the biodiversity of an area is to get out there and look. That’s exactly what a team of scientists, including 24 MV staff and volunteers, is doing at the Lake Condah area in south-western Victoria for the next nine days.

The expedition is part of Bush Blitz – a three-year project to document the flora and fauna of Australia’s National Reserve system. As a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) AusPlots, Bush Blitz teams have identified about 350 new species on eight trips so far. The current trip is especially significant because it’s the first one to be held in an Indigenous Protected Area – the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape, comprising about 3,000 hectares over several properties.

Woodland at Kurtonitj Open woodland at Kurtonitj, one of the properties that comprise the Winda Mara owned and managed areas.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This country is the traditional homeland of the Gunditjmara Nation. Within its rocky, volcanic landscape are ancient structures including eel traps and stone houses. For thousands of years this was a site of major aquaculture efforts where Gunditjmara created pools and channels to cultivate and harvest eels. However Europeans arrived in the 1830s and within 30 years, the Aboriginal population had been decimated and displaced. The Government established Lake Condah Mission to house the people who refused to leave, but in 1919 the mission was closed and in the 1950s the land was reassigned to returning WWII soldiers. But this is a tough mob; in 1996, the Gunditjmara community persisted and they lodged a claim for native title to their lands. It was finally granted in 2007 and Lake Condah was returned to Aboriginal people.

kangaroo A kangaroo eyeing off the Bush Blitz crew at Kurtonitj.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Until 1 April, Bush Blitz will be taking a snapshot of the life of this region. There are botanists from the National Herbarium of Victoria and entomologists from the South Australian Museum and the University of New South Wales among the Bush Blitz crew. We’re counting and photographing and collecting to learn more about what lives here – which will, in turn, aid its protection. Working with the Elders of the community and the Indigenous rangers means that the scientists will learn about the ecological knowledge of the Traditional Owners, too.

spotlighting Three MV biologists spotlighting for frogs on the first night at Lake Condah.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Uncle Kenny Saunders came to talk to us the night that we arrived and gave us a warm welcome. He spoke about the spiritual and cultural importance of the area to the 300 or so Gunditjmara living locally and the much larger population of Gunditjmara now living across Australia. After telling us his stories he left us with an inspirational challenge – that he hoped these scientific surveys would give him more stories to tell about his country.

Links:

Bush Blitz

Lake Condah Sustainable Development Project

ABC Mission Voices: Lake Condah

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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