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Conservation, community and citizen science – the 2018 Glideways BioBlitz @Jenolan Caves

By 01/12/2018December 3rd, 2018No Comments

For a long weekend in November, GSLN volunteers together with partner organisations from across Sydney gathered at Jenolan Caves to support the 2018 K2W BioBlitz, from 23-25 November, 2018. You can see official photos from the event here. The adventures of our intrepid volunteers follow below….

The stunning green scenery surrounding the Jenolan Caves. Credit: A Hanaki.

Ever been to a BioBlitz? These community minded events blend citizen science with communication and professional knowledge, providing a valuable link between real world research and conservation with community and public engagement.

A worldwide citizen science phenomenon, BioBlitz events are a sweeping 24-48 hour survey period designed to document, discover and define the species found within a given ecological region. Places such as the species-rich Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve provide us with an enormously diverse range of flora and fauna, and the perfect excuse to conduct a BioBlitz!

The stunning lower Blue Lake at Jenolan Caves. Perfect platypus habitat! Credit: C Vernon.

Participants can also discover an eclectic mix of volunteers, ecologists and organisers, as keen members of the public jostle around for ecological talks, surveys and hikes.

The K2W BioBlitz is part of a long-running annual BioBlitz event held along the Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala Glideways link. This mountainous, remote and often inaccessible location is a biological hotspot, home to the threatened greater glider together with a multitude of other species.

Looking up at the Grand Arch entrance. Credit: A Hanaki.

GSLN partnered with K2W Glideways to provide guides and volunteers to help lead and assist with the outgoing ecological surveys. Bump-in and exploring Friday, before an early morning registration and dawn-chorus bird survey Saturday morning. From 6am to 11pm at night, GLSN-sourced volunteers documented, supervised, trekked and drove across the Jenolan Caves region. Participants from universities and conservation groups, to corporate volunteers experienced firsthand the incredible diversity of species found in this little-documented region. Caves spider surveys discovered glass-clear arachnid species, mammal trapping revealed a female agile antechinus, whilst numerous floral and scat surveys uncovered some of the smaller landscape details often missed. Volunteers even spotted a platypus on their personal (free time) exploring expeditions down to the stunning Blue Lake. Although thoroughly exhausted due to the hilly terrain, the contribution of volunteers to this wonderful citizen science event was invaluable. Together they cooked, cleaned, marshalled and played numerous rounds of card games, even forming a BioBlitz Band! Sunday gave a well-deserved sleep in for most of the group, before enjoying a wildlife show with the Taronga Zoo Zoomobile and heading back to Sydney via group pizza at Hartley.

The Zoomobile provided plenty of amazing native fauna, including this shingle back lizard (lower) and inland desert bearded dragon (upper). Credit: A Hanaki. 

The group has since kept in contact, and keen to re-join next year for the 2019 BioBlitz. Whilst we’re yet to receive a formal date and location, we’re always looking for more volunteers to join the 30-strong team of BioBlitzers. Interested? Contact LLC Clare Vernon here.

The BioBlitz Crew and volunteering organiser Clare gratefully acknowledges the kind contributions of the Greater Sydney Landcare Network, K2W Glideways and The Sydney University Landcare Society who financially supported our volunteers, providing food, accommodation and a bus!


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