On a cold winter’s night, 16 people ventured out to hear Sarsha Gorissen present her PhD research on the local and iconic Blue Mountains Water Skink, Eulamprus leuraensis.
Sarsha began with historical research of Dr Dubey: that the two major populations of skinks in the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau are genetically distinct; and that these skinks are short-lived.
She followed with her own research, and discussed her major findings to date, which are that the skinks:
live exclusively in swamps and thrive in pristine ones;
depend on water and high soil moisture levels;
have a generalist diet, mainly of insects;
have adapted to survive fires; and,
that to conserve the species we must protect the habitat.
This data will be expanded on this year, her final year of study, and published in scientific journals. One paper already published by Sarsha — on fire frequency, urbanisation and these lizards — can be found here in Austral Ecology.
Come along and hear about the latests research for the Blue Mountains Water Skink.
PhD candidate, Sarsha Gorissen of the University of Sydney, is towards the end of her research project that aims to uncover more about the ecology and conservation biology of the iconic and endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink. This lizard is known worldwide only from the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau areas, so your backyard. Its image is featured locally on urban design, and it is the only endemic vertebrate to the Blue Mountains. It is known only from the highland, peat swamps of the area, which are also endangered, and which many Bushcare volunteers have worked in. Her project focuses on the the impacts of fire and groundwater loss on urban and bush populations of the lizard.
Sarsha Gorissen PhD Candidate
Conserving the fauna of highland swamps. The Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) is found only within the endangered highland swamps of the Blue Mountains and the adjacent Newnes Plateau. This endangered lizard is restricted to about 40 isolated swamps, most of them small, fragmented and close to urban areas. This unique habitat type is threatened by processes acting on a local scale (e.g., urbanisation, weed invasion, introduced animals, forestry and mining) as well as on a landscape scale (e.g., changes in climate and fire regimes). In particular, the effects of changes in fire and hydric regimes on E. leuraensis remain unknown. A research project on a landscape scale, requiring volunteer asssistance – the end result being guidelines for more effective management and conservation of this highly distinctive, highly threatened system.
As Bushcare Volunteers working in these swamps it will be interesting to see if there is anything we can do to help.