Blue Mountains Conservation Society

Saturday, 5 September, 1 pm
Mid Mountains Community Centre
7 New Street, Lawson
SPEAKERS at this special event will talk on the following:


THREATENED SPECIES: Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis)

SPEAKER: Sarsha Gorissen

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.

Sarsha Gorisson

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 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).

Sarsha's project focuses on the impacts of fire and groundwater loss on urban and bush populations of the lizard, the effects of which are unknown.
Photo: Sarsha Gorissen holds a Blue Mountains Water Skink in her hands, giving some idea of the size of this endangered animal.

THREATENED SPECIES: Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea)

SPEAKER: Dr Ian Baird

Dr Ian Baird is one of Australia's foremost experts on giant dragonflies and has been studying this family of dragonflies (Petaluridae) and their peatswamp habitats since 2003.

giant dragonflyPetalura gigantea, commonly known as the Giant Dragonfly or Southeastern Petaltail comes from a prehistoric line, sharing characteristics with fossils 190 million years old. It is a very large dragonfly with a wingspan up to 13 cm and is recorded from peat swamps, bogs and seepages along the coast and ranges of NSW, including the Blue Mountains; and a small area in southeast Qld.

The family is unique amongst dragonflies, in that larvae of most species excavate burrows which extend below the water table in soft peaty soils in mires, seepages or along stream margins. The larvae occupy and maintain these burrows for their entire larval period, generally surviving on creatures captured within the burrow system, or perhaps ambushed at the burrow entrance. Petalurid dragonflies have very long larval stages, which are known to extend for at least five years in two overseas species, and probably longer in Petalura gigantea.

Petalura gigantea is listed as endangered in NSW under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, with habitat loss and degradation identified as the main threats to the species. All of the species' peatswamp habitats in the Sydney Region are also classified as endangered under either Commonwealth or NSW legislation. Ian's presentation will focus on these peat swamp habitats in the Blue Mountains, and the unique life history attributes of the species, which makes it particularly vulnerable to threatening processes such as lowering water tables, more intense fire regimes, and the potentially compounding effects of rapid climate change.

THREATENED SPECIES: Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

SPEAKER: Dr Kellie Leigh

The recent Great Koala Count run by the National Parks Association of NSW has shown the power of citizen science for finding koalas. However the next step of assessing low density populations in rugged terrain is more challenging.

Dr Kellie Leigh is a director of Science for Wildlife and a research partner with the University of Sydney that will undertake the regional koala mapping using innovative research methods such as a koala detection dog. The resulting data will be used in the University's genome research.

Koalas in the Blue Mountains are thought to be particularly important for conservation of the species due to high levels of genetic diversity. The large World Heritage Area might be an important habitat refuge for other populations under pressure from climate change.

THREATENED SPECIES: Dingo (Canis lupus dingo)

SPEAKER: Dr Brad Purcell

dingo pup

The dingo is one species that was not well understood, but was heavily managed because it is a predator and is perceived to threaten the livelihoods of livestock producers and sympatric species (those occupying the same or overlapping geographic areas without interbreeding).

Brad Purcell gained a PHd at UWS studying the dingo populations in the remote southern Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The study generated much interest from public and industry, included a monograph on the dingo for CSIRO Publishing, a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship to Botswana, UK, Poland and America, and unveiled a controversial paradigm for dingo management in Australia.