This years trapping was destined to be great. Roxby Downs had 320mm of rain in 2010 – those in the tropics may scoff, but this is double the annual average. Then Cyclone Yasi recently dumped another 138mm in the reserve. The once red sand dunes are green with vegetation. And with plenty of food around small mammals have been breeding like crazy.
To monitor reptiles and small mammals AR use:
Pitfall traps: PVC tubes (pits) dug into the ground with a short mesh fence connecting the pits. Animals walk along the fence and then fall into a pit.
Elliot traps: small metal box traps with a treadle mechanism. These are baited up with oats and peanut butter.
And times are indeed good inside the reserve. The same sites were last monitored two years ago and the comparison is staggering. The crew captured about 50 times more mammals this year, yes 50 times, that’s not a typo. Interestingly, the reptile captures this year are only 1.3 times higher. So while mammals are enjoying the boom, the cool conditions throughout the year have been less favourable for reptiles.
Helen rattled off the impressive stats for the 2011 trapping session.
- 5 nights
- 19 sites, 114 pits, 285 elliot traps
- 760 man hours
- 1400 small mammals caught (28 in 2009)
- 153 reptiles caught (125 in 2009)
- 25 different species
The desert is definitely in the boom phase of the boom-bust cycle!
If you wish to volunteer for Arid Recovery or become a ‘Friend of Arid Recovery’ check the website for details.