bush blitz

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Confined to base

On the summit of Mount Lambert Collecting insects on the slopes of Mount Lambert While we were confined to base eight of us climbed Mount Lambert. The walk to the top was supposed to take an hour but took closer to three because we were collecting the whole way up. One or other of us was always chasing something with a butterfly net, or turning over a rock or peering through binoculars at something in a tree.

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Storming Carnarvon

'Tent city' with Mt Lambert in background The latest Bush Blitz was on Bush Heritage’s Carnarvon Station Reserve in central Queensland where a dozen scientists gathered for more digging in the dirt. But the team’s Brian Hawkins thought he might get stuck there…. The first fall of rain woke me. The fat drops quickly developed into a heavy pounding. The sky flashed and the rain cascaded down.

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Scientists of the future

Students of Merri Creek School were keen to learn about Australia's biodiversity I was a bit nervous about having to ‘mingle’ with guests at the launch of Bush Blitz II in Melbourne last month, but I found a way to make myself useful. The launch hall at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens filled up with eleven and twelve-year olds who quickly swarmed around a trestle table covered with glass jars and specimen cases.

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How do you identify a new species of Aussie spider? Check their genitals!

Racing stripe spider | Image by Dr Robert Raven Scientists who specialise in spider taxonomy carefully study each spider’s genitalia (called ‘pedipalps’), which are a different shape for every species. They cut off the female spider’s genitalia, drop them into acid to make them transparent, and then look at them under a $5,000 microscope. They cut off the male spider’s genitalia, coat them in a very fine gold and look at them under a $200,000 microscope.

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Tasmania’s new racing stripe spider

The spider will be named _Miturgopelma paruwi_ After a relatively spider-­free night walk with the mob at Gowan Brae while on a Bush Blitz expedition, we came across some rocks near the track. I looked under one and saw only a common invasive spider but one of the young spider enthusiasts, Robert Beeton, found a medium-­sized spider with long legs. When I saw the spider my hands started to shake – not from the fear of being bitten, but more the fear of losing or damaging what I recognised is a truly amazing spider!

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The Kimberley wins some new fans

Jo Harding at Oomaloo Falls Freshwater croc lounging at the base of the falls As we drove out to meet the chopper, the famous Kimberley Cockburn Ranges loomed in front of us like something out of a tourism brochure. My companions, a journalist and photographer from The Australian newspaper, looked impressed. “Wow!” They said. “Are we going there?” The pilot answered in his calm professional manner, “No, we’re going that way.

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New species discovered on Kimberley Bush Blitz

The strange new spider discovered on the Kimberley Bush Blitz. It is a wolf spider that can run along the top of billabongs like a water spider. The Bush Blitz team thinks it could be completely new to science. Some fascinating new species have been found on this week’s Bush Blitz expedition to the Kimberley. They include a new species of wolf spider that thinks it’s a water spider and a tiny little creature that that looks like a scorpion but isn’t are among the new species found on a Bush Blitz expedition in the Kimberley this week.

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Welcome to Country

Jack's Waterhole - a wide section of the Durack River Things changed after the Welcome to Country. Before the welcome, the scientists and traditional owners were camped next to each other on the Kimberley Bush Blitz, but there was not much mingling. That morning we had driven in convoy along the Gibb River Road from Home Valley Resort to Jack’s Waterhole, in Ungarinyin traditional land. Well – sort of in convoy.

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The secret life of bryophytes

The best places to find bryophytes on Flinders Island are the damp gullies and peaks of Mount Strzelecki. Bryophytes are placed into envelopes and allowed to dry Lyn Cave looking closely at moss When you get down close, particularly with a hand lens, you start to see many different species of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) on Flinders Island. In April, Lyn Cave from the Tasmanian Herbarium was part of the Bush Blitz team on expedition to Flinders Island, where she collected many specimens.

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Bush Blitz seed bankers conserve iconic banksia

Collecting banksia seed requires ingenuity! The seeds will be vacuum sealed and stored at minus 50⁰C for up to 200 years I’ve been out helping James Wood and Natalie Tapson, from the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens, to collect seed from a small and declining single population of Banksia serrata on Flinders Island. One third of the population has died and less than 100 specimens remain – possibly due to Phytopthora cinnamomi, an infection known to exist in the area.

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