Bush burning helps Gouldian finches thrive 18/6/2016

Featured

A formerly “threatened” species has been reclassified “vulnerable” as the birds start to repopulate the East Kimberley.

Photo by Martin Pot

Photo by Martin Pot

Two scientists, Sarah Pryke and Sarah Legge, have worked hard to identify the Gouldian Finches’ ideal habitats and feed, and a third, Alex Watson, is working with Kija Rangers to re-establish them.

The method depends on mimicking the effects of the traditional Aboriginal mosaic burning practices using modern technology.

As the website Science Network WA is now defunct I have reproduced the story here: Continue reading

Broome’s new bush tucker seed bank 16/4/2016

The Kimberley has a new seed bank that will function as a seed shop for bush tucker (Aboriginal food) plants, and for those needing to propogate plants for mine site rehabilitation and gardening. 

Tamara Williams (Nyul Nyul Rangers), Cat Williams (Apace WA), Devena Cox (Nyul Nyul Rangers), Debbie Sibasado (Bardi Jawi Oorany Rangers), Kylie Weatherall (Environs Kimberley) and Cissy Tigan (Bardi Jawi Oorany Rangers).

Tamara Williams (Nyul Nyul Rangers), Cat Williams (Apace WA), Devena Cox (Nyul Nyul Rangers), Debbie Sibasado (Bardi Jawi Oorany Rangers), Kylie Weatherall (Environs Kimberley) and Cissy Tigan (Bardi Jawi Oorany Rangers).

It is also intended to be a supplier to high-end restaurants serving Aboriginal food-influenced dishes.

It also has a serious conservation purpose in preserving rare species for ecological renewall.

This may become important when, for example, rare Kimberley vine thickets are destroyed by bushfires.

Science Network [read this story]

Coastal development impacts migrating shore birds 10/4/2016

Red Knot by Adrian Boyle

Red Knot by Adrian Boyle

Shorebird ecologists say they have proven conclusively that Chinese and Korean developments on the Yellow Sea coast are decimating migrating shorebirds.

Careful banding and observation by scientists and the bird watching fraternity shows almost all of the birds that leave Broome’s Roebuck Bay reach the Yellow Sea, their second major feeding ground. 

Shorebird_threats_by Adrian Boyle

A Yellow Sea dredge dumping site. Photo by Adrian Boyle.

However it seems they don’t all find enough food there to complete their journey back to North West Australia via Siberia.

Science Network WA [read this story]

Orbital snaps reveal Roebuck Bay’s tidal movements 1/3/2016

Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Centre

Click on this NASA image to expand it. 

 

A simple editor’s request to find scientists to interpret a picture of the coastline near Broome turned into quite a paper chase.

The academic year was only just starting, so it took a week to find two experts to interpret a photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station..

They then fundamentally disagreed about what caused the unusual parallel tidal creeks.

Science Network WA [read this story]

Juvenile toad snacks save local goannas 9/01/2016

f1de7f83255ed833853ae2fd5dd02af0_L

Rangers Herbert and Wesley Alberts with Georgia Ward-Fear. Photo courtesy Georgia Ward-Fear

Almost every conceivable measure to stop cane toads advancing into the Kimberley has been tried and failed.

525743344-1

Click on this image to read the story.

Collecting cane toads and killing them has failed.

Constructing barriers to keep them out of waterholes has failed.

Experiments with lungworm showed the worms were even more harmful to native frogs.

Meanwhile, other researchers have been training larger predators to avoid eating the toxic amphibians.

And strange as it may seem, a future program could involve releasing more toads into the environment, ahead of the invading wave.

Science Network WA [read this story]

This story has been republished in The West Australian, Friday, January 15, 2016.

Drier areas a refuge from cane toad 26/9/2015

The pindan scrub, which is a type of arid heathland, is not a place toxic cane toads care to tarry.

Click on this image to read the story as printed in Kimberley Echo, Kununurra WA, 26 Nov 2015.

Click on this image to read the story as printed in Kimberley Echo, Kununurra WA, 26 Nov 2015.

As a result, the large reptiles that tend to eat them have had a better survival rate in this drier environment.

This is an interesting, opportunistic study by government scientists working out of Kununurra in the East Kimberley.

It has now been republished in The Kimberley Echo. 

Science Network [read this story]

 

 

26 Nov 2015
Kimberley Echo, Kununurra WA

Mapping to help preserve Broome’s rare ecology 11/11/2015

While Broome is home to several unique and vulnerable ecosystems, two ecologists say builders and planners could take fairly simple steps to preserve them.

The Minyjuru tree within the restricted Broome PEC, provides a much coveted sweet fruit and traditional Yawuru Mayi (pictured).

The Minyjuru tree within the restricted Broome PEC, provides a much coveted sweet fruit and traditional Yawuru Mayi (pictured).

They have exhaustively mapped the four ecosystems so that making small zoning changes and planning new works and subdivisions around them would be a fairly simple matter most of the time.

Science Network WA [read this story]

Migratory birds find Kimberley safe haven via China 24/10/2013

A SUB-SPECIES of a small shorebird spends much of the northern winter feeding at Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach in the Kimberley.

The red knot sub-species (Calidris canutus piersmai) breeds in the Siberian Arctic tundra, and travels to and from the Kimberley via China’s Yellow Sea—a round trip of at least 20,000km.

PhD student Ying Chi Chan is one of a group of Netherlands-based scientists conducting detailed longitudinal studies of shorebirds’ flight paths and foraging ecology.

“Habitat destruction is happening in a lot of places but the rate is particularly fast in China,” she says.

“The main thing I want to know is how the bird adapts to this change in environments.”

When I wrote this piece I was unaware of the Wilson Inlet (Denmark WA)’s importance to this intrepid little traveller.

Science Network WA [read this story]

More research needed into Roebuck Bay menu options 24/12/2013

Last  months story about Wilson Inlet (Denmark, WA) shorebirds has prompted me to post this story from two years ago.

From the Broome Advertiser, March 13, 2014. Click on this image to read the story.

From the Broome Advertiser, March 13, 2014. Click on this image to read the story.

The Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research is the world centre for shorebird ecology.

Dutch biologists Tanya Compton and Marc Lavaleye have been to Broome a couple of times to sample and assess the marine life that migrating shorebirds feed on during their annual stay.

They say the relative population of bivalves, worms and crabs has changed every time they have been there.

Science Network WA [read this story]

The Broome Advertiser republished this story.

Sophisticated stone axes ‘not invented in Europe’ 9/4/2014

Photo Chris Langluddecke

Photo Chris Langluddecke

The first edge ground stone axes were not invented in Europe. 

They appeared in the central Kimberley at least 30,000 years ago.

“The suggestion that all innovation has to come from the Old World is not true because clearly ground-stone axes were created here,” archaeologist Prof Balme says.

She notes that they were also made in Japan at a slightly later date, by people who would have had no contact with either Australian Aborigines or people in Africa and Europe. Continue reading