Objective 4: conduct research
Implement a monitoring and evaluation program to assess the effectiveness of the above activities in conserving biodiversity within the Torricelli Mountain Range.
Continue with current Distance Sampling research to monitor tree kangaroo populations.
Activities include conduct distance sampling research and collate data to determine the tree kangaroo populations.
Research – Distance sampling
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance uses Distance Sampling as a technique to estimate the density of or abundance of tree kangaroo populations. Line and point transect sampling are common methods used with Distance Sampling. Lines and points are surveyed in the field and distances to objects of interest recorded.
TCA's object of interest is the Tenkile and the Weimang tree kangaroo, but because it is nearly impossible to observe these animals in the field we have decided to locate the animals' scats or dung.
TCA's methods have involved cutting a base line on a ridge top (or mountain top) which is approximately one kilometer in length. Every 50 meters along this ridgeline a transect line is established. From the ridgeline transect lines are measured down the slope of the mountain and at every 15 meters a transect point is marked. These transect points are where the research teams search for Tree Kangaroo scats. Each of the fourteen Distance Sampling sites have been established via a compass, clinometer and Global Positioning System (GPS).
When scats/dung are found their distance from the transect point is recorded. This is then recorded onto a data sheet by our locally trained research officers and distance sampling officers. Then the figures are inputted into the software program called DISTANCE which can then estimate the density of Tree kangaroos. Scats/dung are collected and stored in ethanol and taken back to TCA's base in Lumi. Each Distance Sampling site has 150 points and it takes at least five days to survey each area.
TCA has conducted distance sampling at every research site for many years – 2003-2013. There are 14 research sites in total (7 in the Tenkile habitat and 7 in the Weimang habitat) and they are surveyed by a team of 12 people. Each team contains at least one research officer and 3 Distance sampling Officers or Rangers who work with local village representatives.
TCA has recently formed a partnership with Adelaide University and the South Australia Museum to analyse the DNA found within the scats. This important research will help us determine many life history aspects of the tree kangaroo species found in the Torricelli Mountain Range.
TCA has conducted distance sampling at every research site for many years – 2003-2013. There are 14 research sites in total (7 in the Tenkile habitat and 7 in the Weimang habitat) and they are surveyed by a team of 12 people. Each team contains at least one research officer and 3 Distance sampling Officers who work with local village representatives.
Expand the current research to establish a platform for broader long-term biodiversity studies in the Torricelli Mountain Range.
Activities include working with scientists in other areas such as anthropology, biodiversity camera trapping, orchids, climate change, sharing information and specimens and any other research as it becomes available.
Research – camera traps
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance has been using camera traps since 2011. A very successful crowd source funding project in partnership with Deakin University, Australia has enabled TCA to own many camera traps.
Different survey methods have been used are being established to gain more information on the biodiversity, species distribution and limitations and climate change.
Results have shown species ranging from rats, birds, lizards, frogs, bats and of the three Tree Kangaroos. We are also proud to announce the discovery of three potentially new mammal species.
We aim to continue camera trapping as funding permits. Each field trip requires 12 people to set the traps at the research site and then to retrieve them. Costs for field trips vary depending on transport but an average of K25,000 ($10,000 US) is required each year to conduct the fieldwork required. If you want to assist TCA continue this work, click here.
TCA has recently formed a partnership with Canberra University to implement an Orchid survey to analyse the traditional knowledge of orchids, their value and potential use as a flagship species for conservation.