Monitoring then begins at each site using the ‘biodiversity indicators’ that have been selected by our team of ecologists. These indicators give us valuable information about what is happening at the site and, over time, they will allow us to monitor changes across the landscape.
These changes will show how effective our management work has been in meeting our primary conservation goals for the reserve.
They will help us to understand how the natural systems on each reserve work, including how the threats are affecting the land and its wildlife and how we can manipulate them through management activities.
These data are not time consuming nor onerous to collect and additional indicators can be added if time and resources permit.
As a minimum, at each site we record:
- a site description. Slope, aspect, landscape features and general vegetation characteristics are recorded
- visual information using digital images
- soil surface dynamics and habitat structure: Plants grow, flower and seed prolifically or poorly depending on the soil, terrain, climate and weather. As they grow; shed bark, leaves and fruit; get eaten by insects and other animals; decompose and release their nutrients back into the soil, they influence other plants growing around them and fuel the energy flow into the food chain. Understanding the rates of this growth and the factors which limit or boost them, is particularly important for fire management and enhancing the recovery of overgrazed or degraded land.
The structure of the vegetation is measured by recording the height of the foliage, the amount of total vegetation cover and the patchiness of the cover from the ground layer to the top of the canopy. This information can indicate a healthy or degraded system
- the status of the bird population. Birds are good indicators of overall ecosystem health. Different species feed in all parts of an ecosystem from above the tops of the trees to within the ground layer and soil. Their presence will reflect the availability of soil invertebrates, seeds, fruits, nectar, insects, small and large animals, fish and other aquatic animals depending on what they eat. Birds also move to find a better food supply. If food runs short in one place, they will move to a more productive site. Generally the greater the diversity and number of birds the more complex and productive the environment.
At the same time, across the reserve we collect:
- rainfall data and link this to vegetation productivity using satellite imagery; and
- incidental sightings of animals and flowering plants, particularly threatened, rare or targets species. Records of feral pests are also collected.
These data are collected from each site on a regular basis, but as a minimum, once a year. We also install less quantitative photo monitoring points at a scattering of additional sites to complement this ‘minimum set’.
A range of other data (over and above the ‘minimum set’) may be gathered at particular sites depending on the resources or expertise that are available and the nature of the reserve. This is called the ‘desirable set’.
Page Last Updated: Monday 22 October 2007