Mel McGregor, a PHD student at Griffith University, battled the flu as she presented our September lecture. Here are some points she made during her talk. Images are from her presentation.
Road ecology is a comparatively new area of study, first documented in 1998. It includes the road itself and the impact area about 1 km on either side of the road, where ecological damage might be caused. Problems relating to the road itself include direct road kill, the barrier effect impacting on animals wanting to cross and pollution caused by road use. The road effect zone can have problems such as fragmentation, genetic isolation and extinction.
Fauna passages (above and under the ground) mitigate these problems by addressing connectivity, maintaining natural movements, reducing the barrier effect and increasing awareness of the problems.
The 4-lane Compton Road divides a dry eucalypt woodland, with Karawatha Forest on one side and Kuraby Bushland on the other. The area is home to 320 species of flora and 200 species of fauna. The area is managed by the Brisbane City Council. An overpass was built targeting large mammals and an underpass for smaller mammals.
Mel’s study examined animals other than those targeted which are also using the overpass and the underpass, focussing her study on small mammals, herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) and bats.
To track the mammals and herpetofauna, she set up 10 study sites within 800 metres of the passage using various sorts of traps and cameras. Both groups were found to be using the overpass and the underpass.
Mammals captured, tattooed and released included: bandicoot, house mouse, squirrel glider, common planigale, black rat, brushtail possum.
Mammals photographed included: bandicoot, possum, echidna, fox, koala, black rat, mouse, wallaby, goat, cat.
Herptiles captured included: 6 species of skinks, bluetongue lizard, 2 types of snakes, legless lizard, 2kinds of dragons, cane toads and 3 species of native frogs.
Herptile photographed included: lace monitor, water dragon, skinks and cane toads.
Bats were studied separately using a bat detector. Mel monitored the bats by moving slowly (70 metres in 20 minutes) in locations across the same study area, using a harp trap to capture the bats. Only 3 were captured (2types of broad-nose bats and the eastern long-eared bat), but lots of bat activity was recorded above the overpass. She was especially pleased to note Nyctophyllis (a forest specialist) happily using the overpass.
Mel will continue her study with more captures, photographs and by correlating her findings with previous studies of the Karawatha area. Results in 2015 have been disappointing as there have been many more feral species at the expense of native animals.
Mel thanked Wildlife Queensland for the grant she received. She used the money to buy a bat detector to facilitate her study.