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August 30th, 2013
Researchers Deploy GIS to Monitor Endangered Wallaby

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) have turned to Geographic Information System (GIS) technology from industry leaders Esri Australia to investigate the relationship between the endangered bridled nailtail wallaby and the common black-striped wallaby, in Taunton National Scientific Park.

Located 135 kilometres inland from Rockhampton, the park was protected in 1979 after the rediscovery of the previously assumed extinct bridled nailtail.

QPWS Senior Spatial Information Analyst Michael Harte said the research would aid in the assessment of current land management practices within the park.

“Our on-ground managers are looking at the number of wallabies to see whether they’re benefiting, for example, from the type of feed pastures they have created previously,” Mr Harte said.

“One of the questions we’re asking is whether management practice is helping these wallabies out, or if it’s just creating more competition with other types of the species.”

Mr Harte said the team was using GIS technology to map a population density index of the bridled nailtail and the black-striped wallaby to examine the dynamics of the relationship between the two.

“Our scientists and rangers go into the field in utes equipped with spotlights to record wallaby number and species’ type data,” Mr Harte said.

“The information collected is then recorded in spatial tables called vector datasets.

“Vector datasets representing both the tracks traversed during sampling and the vegetation communities present across the study area were analysed.

“By doing this, we were able to estimate the relative abundance of each species across the study area.”

The development and application of the analysis tool will be presented in Brisbane next week at the nation’s largest spatial event, Ozri 2013.

Ozri 2013 Technical Director Kellie Persson said the study was a prime example of how valuable GIS technology is as a research tool for land managers and conservationists.

“In the hands of the QPWS’ tireless researchers, GIS technology is helping deliver compelling insights into the very real management issues facing what is one of Australia’s most loved wildlife icons,” Ms Persson said.

“The study sits side-by-side with other vital environmental projects around Australia also using GIS technology.

“These include the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program in Western Australia – which is helping protect the endangered Loggerhead species – and Victoria’s Phillip Island Nature Park – which is conducting the first state-wide Penguin survey in more than 30 years.”

Ozri 2013 will run from 4-6 September at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
For registration details visit – www.esriaustralia.com.au/ozri