*Matthew: Conservation and restoration efforts may attempt to right the wrongs of past generations, but can this result in too much of a good thing?
The creation of fenced feral-free reserves has successfully seen the reintroduction of several locally extinct and endangered animals. Yet, we poorly understand the consequences of faunal repatriation for enclosed ecosystems. Current ground-based surveys are expensive, time consuming and labour intensive.
Arid Recovery Reserve is located within the vast arid lands of northern South Australia. There are concerns surrounding overpopulation of the reintroduced burrowing bettong (Bettongia lesueur) and sustainability of this enclosed ecosystem. Affordable, practical, and repeatable monitoring methods therefore need to be developed.
My honours project aimed to assess the ability of unmanned aircraft (drones) to monitor both the vegetation and population of B. lesueur within Arid Recovery Reserve.
Quantitative assessment of vegetation assemblages and warrens (burrows) through both ground and drone based surveys were used to assess differences among two feral-free enclosures and one area outside the reserve. This information is beginning to provide reasoning behind observed differences in the vegetation within and among the three sites. Providing an initial assessment of drone use for monitoring vegetation and B. lesueur populations, this research has applications both within and beyond Arid Recovery Reserve.
With implications for how we sample and survey ecosystems, initial results may open the doors to a seemingly endless room of future research.
*Today’s guest post is from Matthew J. Bowie (aka Bowie). Here’s a bit more about him:
Why am I interested in science communication? I think I have always been the type of person that simply enjoys talking to other people about what they do, and this extends to their science. I somewhat stumbled across the field of SciComms this year, and after randomly emailing a now fellow communicator the question “what is science communications?…I think I might be interested in it”, I was hooked. I am now finalising my honours degree in Environmental Science at the University of Adelaide, helping out on the South Australian branch of Australian Science Communicators, and will soon start writing for RiAus. The year ahead for me is uncertain, but I am looking forward to a career with strong SciComm components.