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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: prom bioscan (7)

Collecting mammal specimens

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
27 March 2012
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In their previous video, Dr Karen Rowe and Dr Karen Roberts reported the results of their mammal surveys of Wilsons Prom. They joined other MV scientists and Parks Victoria staff for the the rapid biodiversity survey, Prom Bioscan, of October 2011.

In this video, Karen and Karen talk about their work with the Mammology Collection at Museum Victoria and why the museum collects mammal specimens.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Links:

View all Prom Bioscan blog posts

MV Animal Ethics Procedures

Mammalogy Collection

Small mammals at Wilsons Prom

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
16 January 2012
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In October 2011, 50 scientists and volunteers performed a rapid biodiversity survey of Wilsons Promontory in partnership with Parks Victoria. In this video, Dr Karen Rowe and Dr Karen Roberts talk about the mammals of Wilsons Prom, particularly the small mammals: native rats and antechinus.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Links:

Prom Bioscan

Paradise Valley

Historian at the Prom

Hunting for herpetiles

Crayfish climbing trees

Crayfish climbing trees

Author
by Blair
Publish date
22 November 2011
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Comments (5)

Roll over Drop Bears, there's a new, real threat in the trees of Wilsons Promontory - freshwater crayfish!

I reckon the best story from the recent Prom Bioscan for Parks Victoria is the discovery of freshwater crayfish climbing trees. Forget that a huge whale washed ashore nearby, forget the species found that had never been recorded from the area, and ignore all the hype around helicopters, it should be all about these partly arboreal crustaceans that are only known from the Prom.

Engaeus australis at Wilsons Prom. Freshwater crayfish Engaeus australis at Wilsons Prom.
Image: Adnan Moussalli
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Our freshwater ecologist Dr Richard Marchant was among the researchers to see the Engaeus crayfish on tree trunks and branches. He's worked around streams and rivers throughout Victoria for over 25 years and this is the first time he's seen this.

"It's a mystery why this mainly burrow-dwelling species would be in the trees when their food is on the ground. Clearly there's something new here that we didn't know about this Prom population. Unfortunately on this trip there wasn't time to find out more." said Richard.

"It has been only recently appreciated that from an evolutionary point of view insects are just 'flying crustaceans'. While tree-climbing crayfish suggest a hankering for an aerial existence among crustaceans there is no evidence that this is how they took to the skies and evolved wings!" said Dr. Gary Poore, another of the museum's crayfish experts, when he heard of the finding.

When I heard the story, my thoughts went immediately to the mythical Drop Bear - a furry clawed beast the size of a dog that, legend has it, lives in trees in Australia and drops down on people as they walk below. At only a finger-length long, perhaps 8cm or so, these little crustaceans wouldn't do much damage if they did drop on someone, but you still might be at risk of a nip from their tiny claws on your shoulder if they did.

Normally sticklers for poking around in rivers and digging burrows with mini mountains of mud as entrances, the aquatic Engaeus crayfish were seen in a remote area of the Prom off limits to the public, so rest assured – hikers and campers this summer will be safe.

Engaeus australis at Wilsons Prom. Freshwater crayfish Engaeus australis at Wilsons Prom.
Image: Adnan Moussalli
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The species in the trees was Engaeus australis and is only known to occur at Wilsons Prom. A few other Engaeus species also live at the Prom, but they also occur elsewhere in Victoria. Engaeus crayfish are related to yabbies (genus Cherax) and the larger Murray River and Spiny crayfishes (genus Euastacus). There are 22 Engaeus species that occur in several parts of Victoria, and about 10 other species of crayfish, together making Victoria one of the world's most diverse areas for freshwater crayfish.

Links:

Infosheet: Land crayfish

Engaeus australis on the IUCN Redlist

Australian Museum: Drop Bear

Hunting for herpetiles

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
11 November 2011
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During the recent Prom Bioscan biodiversity survey of Wilsons Promontory, Dr Joanna Sumner led the herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) group. She and her troops - Katie Smith, Claire Keely, Susi Maldonado, Maggie Haines and Parks Victoria's Steve Wright – used a combination of trapping and active searching to find nine skink species, three elapid snake species and five frog species over several survey sites.

  Claire and Susi doing fieldwork Claire and Susi checking funnel traps opposite Lilly Pilly Gully carpark.
Image: Jo Sumner
Source: Museum Victoria

Reported Jo,

We captured, tissue sampled and released 59 individual reptiles and amphibians. Tissue samples will be put in our frozen tissue collection and used in research on species identification of some these groups. The overall diversity of reptile species in the Prom is very low compared to other areas in Australia. We sighted all three snakes previously recorded, 50% of known frog species and 75% of skinks known to the area. We did not record any of threatened species previously recorded on the Prom however, such as Litoria raniformis and Egernia coventryi.

 

If you're ever wondered what herpetology fieldwork looks like, here's a video from Wilsons Prom where Jo explains how she traps skinks and takes tissue samples.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Historian at the Prom

Author
by Rebecca Carland
Publish date
27 October 2011
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Bec is working on the history of Museum Victoria's Science Collections and all the people who have been part of them since the museum's origin in 1854.

As a history curator, the dizziest height I usually get to is the top shelf of the archive. So flying over Wilsons Promontory with the Prom Bioscan team last week was a true adventure. 

My job, History of Science Collections Curator, often involves following the archive trail of past scientists to establish the what, where and how behind the specimens in our collections. The history of Wilsons Prom is interwoven with the history of Museum Victoria. Three former directors were instrumental in the establishment and ongoing development of the park. In the 1960s Charlie Brazenor led a museum team survey whose report initiated many of the park's innovations such as a permanent ranger/manager, proper signage and even a small museum at Tidal River.

1950 survey team at Wilsons Prom Charles Brazenor, Curator of Mammals and later Director (second from right) oversaw the museum survey in 1950.
Image: Hope McPherson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Prom Bioscan represents the next phase of the museum's work at the Prom so I just had to be there to document it. We hold some magnificent historic images of the Prom and it was also a great opportunity to re-shoot some of those locations to get a sense of how the park has changed over time.

Jim Whelan, former chief ranger at the Prom and local keeper of Prom history, has been gleefully working with me on a short history of field surveys at the Prom and was the ultimate guide on my travels.

Jim Whelan in a helicopter Jim Whelan, Operations Manager, Wilsons Prom Centre for Excellence sharing his knowledge of the Prom.
Image: Rebecca Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We flew by helicopter from Tidal River over most of the park, skirting the coastline looking for the rock formations in the historic images I had brought with me. Some locations were simply too difficult to land so we had to hover over the trees and take the photos through the little window of the chopper. Other locations, like Mt Oberon car park, which can't be accessed by road since the floods, were the perfect spot to land the chopper and walk or bushbash to the spots we needed. Jim has every tree; every rock imprinted in his memory and the journey through his memories was as interesting as the chopper ride.

Our longest stop was at Sealers Cove. Having been there many times on foot it was spectacular to see the cove open up before us as we rounded the coastline.

Helicopter on beach Pilot Ed parked the chopper next to iconic Whale Rock on Sealers Cove beach.
Image: Rebecca Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I wanted to find remnants of the old wooden tramway used by the mill in 1800s but the terrain was impenetrable. I did, however, find a couple of little wooden posts sticking out of the sand where the massive jetty that serviced the mill once stood. The jetty was built by King and McCulloch in 1903 and extended 800 metres into the cove.

Men on a jetty The Sealer's Cove jetty in the 1920s.
Source: Jan Phelan
 

Bec in the sand taking photo Bec Carland getting down and dirty photographing the remnants of Sealers Cove jetty.
Image: Anna McCallum
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The last remnants of the Sealers Cove jetty The last remnants of the Sealers Cove jetty.
Image: Rebecca Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

So today, back at my desk staring out at the Royal Exhibition Building I can still hear the sea and the echo of the radio calls from the chopper headphones buzzing in my ears and if I squint a bit, the cream REB against the blue sky looks a little like the sands of Sealers Cove. The recreated photos are looking good and some truly fascinating moments in the Prom's history are coming together as a series of videos for Collections Online.

Paradise Valley

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
21 October 2011
Comments
Comments (5)

On Wednesday a small team - five scientists and two rangers - were allowed into into the protected heart of Wilsons Prom as part of the Prom Bioscan project. The Vereker Creek Reference Area, colloquially known as Paradise Valley, is largely untouched by recent human activity. It is afforded the highest level of conservation protection and access is strictly limited to infrequent scientific research. The purpose of keeping areas such as Paradise Valley closed is to maintain a pristine reference point against which the impacts of human activity can be measured.

The area contains a stand of Antarctic Southern Beech trees (Nothofagus cunninghamii) and thus the possibility of Gondwanan wildlife. Rare and endangered mammals might still persist there. It's a very exciting opportunity for the specialist team but the first obstacle is getting there. There are no tracks to Paradise Valley, just a long hike through swordgrass taller than their heads after being dropped by helicopter on Five Mile Beach.

Two men standing by water tank Wayne and Richard in their helicopter suits waiting for their turn in the chopper.
Image: Melanie Mackenzie
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I didn't make the cut for the team going in to Paradise Valley, but there was enough room in the helicopter for a couple of us to tag along for the drop-off, which was an adventure in itself. Seeing the Prom from the air was simply amazing.

Five Mile Beach from the helicopter The beautiful Five Mile Beach seen from above.
Image: Melanie Mackenzie
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Helicopter pilots Jim Whelan of Parks Victoria and our pilot Ed in the helicopter.
Image: Melanie Mackenzie
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Helicopter transporting field gear Helicopter taking off for Five Mile Beach carrying field gear and three days' food in a sling beneath it.
Image: Melanie Mackenzie
Source: Museum Victoria

Tomorrow I'm heading to Sealers Cove with about half of the MV scientists for more survey work. We'll be back in the middle of next week with much more to report on the Prom Bioscan.

Looking out over Sealers Cove Lantern slide, about 1920, looking out over Sealers Cove (BA 2950)
Image: A.G. Campbell
Source: Museum Victoria
 

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