Bring the family to Wentworth Falls Lake on September 17 to discover more about our local waterways and the
creatures that live there. Our creeks, rivers and lakes are part of what makes the Blue Mountains so special. They are home to unique animals such as giant dragonflies, turtles, water-skinks and much more. Come along and learn about who lives in and around the water, and what we can do to look after them. Meet a crayfish, listen to stories, explore a swamp, create some art, make a difference!
A female Petalura gigantea – Giant Dragonfly. Photo by Ian Baird.
Threatened Species Day is a national day held each year on 7 September to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. On this date every year we reflect on what has happened in the past and how we can protect our threatened species in the future. It is also a day to celebrate our success stories and ongoing threatened species recovery work.
With all this in mind Garguree Swampcare Group hosted a threatened species event on Sunday September 4.
30 fantastic volunteers joined in on the day which started with a restoration planting along the riparian corridor which connects the Blue Mountains Water Skink populations of the “McCrae’s Paddock” swamp and the “middle” swamp in The Gully Aboriginal Place, Katoomba.
Male Petalura gigantea Giant Dragonfly. Photo by Ian Baird.
Threatened species biscuits cooked by Sandy Holmes.
At 11am Sandy Holmes greeted us with a most amazing brunch, including giant dragonfly cookies and water skink eclairs (they were definitely threatened species …)
This was followed by Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony by David King. He also spoke about Garguree Swampcare’s work and the ongoing support from the Environmental Trust and “Protecting our Places” grants.
Council’s Environmental Scientist Michael Hensen spoke about a new 10 year Environmental Trust – Saving our Species grant of $750,000 “Swamped by Threats” which will help protect the Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly at a number of priority sites across the Blue Mountains and the Newnes Plateau.
We finished the morning’s formal proceedings with Ian Baird presenting an exciting insight into the biology and identification of two iconic threatened species found in Blue Mountains Swamps: the Giant Dragonfly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.
After that it was back to more connecting to our place through our stomachs!
Eulamprus leurensis (Blue Mountains Water Skink). Photo by Ian Baird.
A recent journal paper by local ecologist Dr Ian Baird (firstname.lastname@example.org), on larval burrow morphology and groundwater dependence in the endangered Giant Dragonfly, Petalura gigantea,may be of interest to bushcarers.
The following abstract is from the paper:
“Most species of petalurid dragonflies have a fossorial larval stage, which is unique in the Odonata. Larvae typically excavate burrows in soft peaty soils in mires, seepages or along stream margins, which are occupied by a single larva throughout the long larval stage. This paper reports on a study of burrow morphology in Petalura gigantea, with the objectives of describing their burrows, documenting any variability in burrow morphology across the hydrogeomorphic range of habitats used by the species, identifying factors contributing to any such variability, resolving questions in relation to the single previous illustration of a burrow system and identifying the level of groundwater dependence of larvae. The species was found to be an obligate, groundwater dependent, mire-dwelling species with well-maintained and sometimes complex burrows. Burrow complexity and morphological variation are inferred to be a response by larvae to the hydrogeomorphic characteristics of the habitat and substrate attributes. All burrows were occupied by a single larva, consistent with previous observations of other fossorial petalurids, but in contrast to the previous description of a P. gigantea burrow complex occupied by multiple larvae. The functional role of identified burrow features is discussed. Although the fossorial larval habit confers ecological benefits, the species’ groundwater dependence and restriction to mire habitats places it at increased risk in the event of any reduction in groundwater availability, more intense fire regimes, and the potential compounding effects of rapid climate change.”
Baird, I.R.C. (2014). Larval burrow morphology and groundwater dependence in a mire-dwelling dragonfly, Petalura gigantea (Odonata: Petaluridae). International Journal of Odonatology, 17, 101-121. doi:10.1080/13887890.2014.932312