An associated research project kicked off recently with the deployment of ‘ABCs’ – artificial bark covers, on selected trees at MER wetland sites. This project considers the question of whether floodplain reptile species respond to Commonwealth Environmental Watering actions, aiming to improve our understanding of reptile community composition and diversity within floodplain environments, as well as evaluate the contribution of environmental watering actions to the conservation and management of wetland dependant species such as the endangered grey snake (IUCN).
The use of artificial bark covers (ABCs) is a novel fauna survey method that involves wrapping strips of foil-backed closed-cell foam around selected trees, leaving them in place, and then periodically inspecting beneath the foam for sheltering tree-dwelling reptiles or invertebrates. ABCs reduce the need to remove bark from large trees in search of tree-dwelling species, thus minimising disturbance to the environment when surveying reptiles.
We were recently joined by journalist Justine Hausheer from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for an afternoon of fieldwork at Gayini Nimmie-Caria, a TNC-managed property between Balranald and Hay in New South Wales. Read her thoughts on our efforts to set up artificial bark covers to survey for arboreal reptiles in the Murrumbidgee River floodplain. https://nrmedia.org/2019/09/wrapping-trees-to-find-reptiles/
The restoration project is the culmination of many years’ work including the installation of new infrastructure which allowed water to be delivered in 2019–20.
Native plants including river red gums, common rush and waters ribbons have responded well to the watering event after many dry years.
Monitoring of the project revealed the presence of endangered southern bell frogs, not recorded at the site since 2010–11.