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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: wildlife (4)

Gallery of the Grampians survey

Author
by Blair
Publish date
26 November 2012
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Comments (10)

The Museum Victoria and Parks Victoria crew at the Grampians National Park in western Victoria have discovered some cool critters after the first six days of the intensive Grampians Bioscan survey. Why elaborate when I can just show you what I mean.

people hiking in mountains Museum Victoria and Parks Victoria crew walking through the stunning scenery of Grampians National Park.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We've come face-to-face with the cute and furry, like the Yellow-footed Antechinus, Antechinus flavipes. These small mammals look a little like mice but they are not closely related. They are carnivorous, eating insects and small lizards. Females rear young in pouches until the young outgrow the pouch and they climb onto her back for a while. Males fight during breeding season, neglect to eat, and die within twelve days after mating.

hand holding small mammal Yellow-footed Antechinus, Antechinus flavipes.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There have been five frog encounters so far, including the endangered Growling Grass Frog, Litoria raniformis. The conservation genetics of this species is currently being studied by museum PhD student Claire Keely.

two green frogs Growling Grass Frog, Litoria raniformis. The female is the larger frog on the left, the male is on the right.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Warm weather has given our researchers an opportunity to sample DNA from the local reptile populations. Here, a watchful Colin catches a Tiger Snake, Notechis scutatus, for a genetics project.

Man holding snake Colin with a captured Tiger Snake, Notechis scutatus.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A friendly Stumpy-tail, Tiliqua rugosa, faced off with museum herpetologist Jo Sumner. These lizards give birth to live young, which is uncommon in reptiles since most lay eggs. Mating pairs usually follow one another around and maintain a life-long bond.

Woman holding lizard Jo holding a Stumpy-tail, Tiliqua rugosa.
Image: Steve Wright
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We saw Australia's smallest freshwater crayfish (Western Swamp Crayfish, Gramastacus insolitus, about 3 cm long) and one of the largest (Glenelg River Spiny Crayfish, Euastacus bispinosus, about 15cm long). Both species are listed as endangered on DSE's Advisory List of Threatened Invertebrate Fauna in Victoria.

two species of crayfish Left: Western Swamp Crayfish, Gramastacus insolitus. Right: Glenelg River Spiny Crayfish, Euastacus bispinosus.
Image: David Paul / Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And species that dramatically transform from larval stages into adults, for example the Dobsonfly, Archichauliodes guttiferus. The aquatic larval stage lives in the rocks on river beds while the adult flies around the plants along the river bank.

Larva and adult of insect Dobsonfly, Archichauliodes guttiferus. Left: aquatic larva Right: adult
Image: Blair Patullo / David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And saving my favourite until last – the "Jabba-the-hut" spider, more officially known as a Badge Huntsman, Neosparassus diana.

crouching spider Badge Huntsman, Neosparassus diana.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We've also recorded Wedge-tailed Eagles and Powerful Owls. Stand by for a report on week two! 

The survey is being conducted with help from Parks Victoria's rangers and aims to document wildlife in the Grampians area. It involves over 60 museum staff and associates, including the Melbourne Herbarium and Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, and concludes at the end of November 2012.

Links:

MV Field Guide to Victorian Fauna app

MV Blog: posts from the Wilsons Prom Bioscan, October 2011

Secret diary of a field trip

Author
by Blair
Publish date
21 November 2012
Comments
Comments (3)

Today I’m broadcasting from a sweet spot in the Grampians National Park, western Victoria. The museum is conducting a fauna survey with Parks Victoria here over the next two weeks. It’s spectacular countryside and this blog is the start of the stories from the trip that will involve over 60 museum staff and associates, including the Melbourne Herbarium and Field Naturalists Club of Victoria.

Here’s how the trip started and the first few days of excitement, diary style. Stay in touch for more updates, photos of critters, or leave us comments if you have questions. We will be in touch when the internet reception comes good again.

9 days to go – 10.30am. Meet and greet with Parks Victoria rangers to discuss schedules.

6 days to go – 3.30pm. Final planning meeting at Museum Victoria.

1 day to go – 10.27am. Purchase 1 FME-Sierra cable, 1 FME-SMA adaptor, 1 male SMA-female SMA plug (for remote internet access). To think that ten years ago the nearest communication on a trip like this would have been a telephone booth on a highway in the nearest town 50 kilometres away.

1 day to go – 11.23pm. Throw some survival stuff on the floor for packing in the morning.

collection of clothing, books,a camera and other camping equipment on the floor Last minute packing for the field trip.
Image: Blair Patullo
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Day 1 – 12.23pm. On route, traditional field trip greasy burger for lunch. Delish.

Day 1 – 4.14pm. Arrive at camping site, first wildlife sighted. A skink. I’m not a herpetologist so cannot tell the species.

Day 1 – 10.03pm. Mayhem in the mess hall. First collection has brought back scorpions. Look at the photo below to see how many scientists it takes to be amazed by a scorpion as it fluoresces under UV light! Similar scorpions live in backyards around Melbourne, occassionally entering houses. Usually the smaller scorpion species have more powerful stings because the larger species can overpower prey with their larger claws. The museum’s Live Exhibits catcher, Colin, said: “I haven’t been stung by this species, but a smaller one did get me once and that was a bit painful.”

Group of people gathered around a man holding a scorpion How many scientists does it take to watch a glowing scorpion?
Image: Blair Patullo
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Glowing scorpion being held in a hand This species glows under UV light from a torch. Why this happens is still a mystery.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Day 2 – 8.30am. Another safety briefing closely followed by research teams departing and dispersing to areas across the park. Mammal specialists are checking trap lines, bird observers are out with sound recording equipment, and a group is surveying snails.

Day 2 – 2.52pm. The divers get wet in a remote part of the MacKenzie River in the north-west of the park. Our Parks Victoria guide Ryan Duffy stops our vehicles by the roadside, seemingly in the middle of nowhere with no water in sight. We walk for about 100 metres into the forest, dodging the understory of bracken, wattle, and eucalypts still with trunks partly singed black from the 2006 fire. We arrive at a narrow section of the river and Ryan tells us that three platypus have been reported from here. There were no platypus today but the diving was amazing – freshwater sponges, crayfish, native fish and several species of nymphs and larvae were recorded.

Fish lying in the sand One of the locals: a freshwater gudgeon.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Brown nymph on sand This little alien is a nymph that will grow into a dragonfly.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Day 2 – 10.07pm. It's well dark now, but the second day isn't over. We're preparing for 30 degree temperatures tomorrow and the frog team just left to see who's calling-out tonight.

Closing thoughts for the day: this is definitely a place to check shoes for creepy crawlies in the morning before putting them on, and forget checking for redbacks under the toilet seat because the massive bull ants will bite before them.

Prom Bioscan

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
19 October 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

Museum Victoria has partnered with Parks Victoria for a two-week intensive biodiversity survey of Wilsons Promontory National Park. The Prom Bioscan project, from 16 to 28 October, is targeting terrestrial, freshwater and marine wildlife and visiting some remote and rarely-visited sites. This rapid census will help Parks Victoria assess the environmental impacts of recent extreme weather events: the 2005 and 2009 fires and the floods in early 2011. On 23 September the southern part of the Prom reopened to visitors after six months of flood repair. Many riparian zones (near creeks and rivers) have changed proundly since the flood, their vegetation and beds scoured away the 370mm of rain that fell in one day in February.

Wilson's Prom is one of Victoria's oldest National Parks. It was first designated a National Park in 1898 due to its unique wilderness, stunning natural beauty and its ease of isolation from the mainland. Its habitats - heathlands, swamps, grasslands, forests and more - house numerous species of plants and animals.

skink A skink from Wilsons Promontory.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

lacewing A lacewing caught at Wilsons Promontory.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Researchers have worked here for decades to document the life and environment of the Prom. The Prom Bioscan is a special case: it's rare to have so many experts working simultaneously across the park. Over 40 Museum Victoria staff and volunteers and 15 Parks Victoria staff are participating.

three biologists checking mammal traps Karen, Lara and Karen checking mammal traps.
Image: Michela Mitchell
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the first few days, the scientists have observed 69 species of birds, two types of rats, Gondwanan snails, numerous skinks and much more. Some specimens will become part of the Museum Victoria collections whereas others are released after a small tissue sample is taken for genetic research. The days in the field are long, especially for those who follow animals that are active at dawn and dusk, but the stunning surroundings more than make up for it.

Granite boulders, wildflowers and blue sea at Wilsons Promontory Granite boulders, wildflowers and blue sea at Wilsons Promontory.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

You can follow #PromBioscan on Twitter. Tweet your questions for MV scientists about the project to @museumvictoria. 

Links:

Parks Victoria: Wilsons Promontory National Park 

 

Creatures that rule the dusk and dawn

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
16 May 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

The City Gallery at the Melbourne Town Hall is crawling with possums, owls, moths and other twilight creatures in the new exhibition, Crepuscular. Here you can observe the animals that often escape our notice as we rush home from work or retreat from winter to cosier climates indoors.

Curated by honorary Museum Victoria associate, John Kean, the exhibition includes specimens and Prodromus illustrations on loan from MV, and specially-commissioned taxidermy by Dean Smith (who also works as a senior museum preparator). There are also new artworks by local artists Alexis Beckett, Mali Moir, and John Pastoiza-Pinol,and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the exquisite portraits of invertebrates by botanical artist Dianne Emery.

Emperor Gum Moth Emperor Gum Moth eggs, caterpillar, adult, cocoon and imago, Opodiphthera eucalypti 2011. Watercolour on Kelmscott vellum 25x 20 cm
Image: Dianne Emery
Source: Dianne Emery
 

Crepuscular presents a fascinating picture of the life in urban Melbourne that exists and persists despite – but sometimes because of – human activity. For every loser there's a winner: clearing habitat has caused the loss of many species (such as quolls, which remained in remnant populations at Kew's Studley Park until just a few decades ago) but plantings of exotic trees have been a boon for others. An abundance of fruit trees drew in the Grey-headed Flying Foxes for the first time, while Powerful Owls have emerged from the forests to take up residence in city parks and grow fat on the possums.

Crepuscular is on at the City Gallery until 6 July 2011. Be sure to find the spot in the room where all eyes are upon you...

Links:

City Gallery at Melbourne Town Hall

Question of the Week: Emperor Gum Moth

Emperor Gum Moth on Caught and Coloured

The Age: 'Critters of the night shift'

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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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