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UC funded to probe the earless dragon

By johnboy - 9 June 2011 6

The UC Monitor informs us that they’ve pulled in funding to look at why earless dragons are becoming endangered:

A team of researchers led by Professor Stephen Sarre was granted $395,000 to identify the reasons that have made species like the grassland earless dragon endangered or vulnerable, as well as to develop tools to prevent the extinction of this and other reptiles.

The Australian Research Council linkage project grant will fund the four year study aiming to save this tiny, stunningly patterned lizard from the brink of extinction in the ACT and the surrounding region.

In addition, the ACT government has also committed $304,000 to this project.

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6 Responses to
UC funded to probe the earless dragon
Antagonist 11:38 am 10 Jun 11

Thumper said :

I can see no problem with this. The little bloke is endangered so we need to do everything possible to makes sure we keep him alive.

Rather than duplicating studies that have already been conducted, wouldn’t the money be better used to implement the recovery strategies that have already been identified by NSW DEC?

Thumper 8:21 pm 09 Jun 11

I can see no problem with this. The little bloke is endangered so we need to do everything possible to makes sure we keep him alive.

zippyzippy 5:56 pm 09 Jun 11

Poor old earless dragon. Doesn’t want to be probed, but it’s so easy to sneak up on.

Classified 4:58 pm 09 Jun 11

Q. What do you call an earless dragon?

A. Anything you want, it aint gonna come…

p1 4:11 pm 09 Jun 11

I wonder if studies by universities is a significant contributor to the endangerment of earless dragons? …and if they are, will the study identify them as such?

Antagonist 3:01 pm 09 Jun 11

I think I can save everyone $700k and four years of research with a quick glance at the NSW DEC website:

Grassland earless dragon threats:
1. Addition of fertilisers and application of other agricultural chemicals that modify grassland flora and fauna.
2. Changed hydrology from activities such as irrigation and effluent disposal.
3. Removal of natural grazers and changes to historical grazing patterns at sites where the lizards are known to occur.
4. Habitat loss and fragmentation as land is cleared or otherwise impacted for residential, agricultural, rural lifestyle subdivision and industrial developments.
5. Collection of bush rock and rock-removal for pasture management purposes.
6. Habitat degradation through ploughing.
7. Heavy grazing and trampling by stock and rabbits, causing habitat degradation through root damage, prevention of seedling establishment and erosion.
8. Invasion of habitat by weeds or escaped pasture species that degrade habitat.
9. Changed fire regimes that result in changes to vegetation structure and composition and also to invertebrate populations that are the food source for this species.
10. Feral animals and domestic cats and dogs from neighbouring properties.
11. Erection of fences within known habitat, providing perches for predatory birds (e.g. Brown Falcon – Falco berigora).
12. Modification and shading of habitat through tree-planting in native grasslands.

Grassland earless dragon recovery strategies
1. Keep domestic cats and dogs indoors at night; desex domestic cats and dogs.
2. Undertake feral animal control programs.
3. Survey for the species in suitable habitat in areas that are proposed for development or changed management actions, and mark sites onto maps or plans. If found inform land managers of appropriate management actions.
4. Do not collect bushrock or remove rocks for pasture management purposes.
5. Do not destroy habitat and surrounding areas by ploughing.
6. Do not allow heavy, prolonged grazing regimes by stock in habitat known to support the species.
7. Avoid driving vehicles across known sites.
8. Do not erect fences or other structures on which predatory birds can perch.
9. Retain and protect natural grassland remnants and grassland with appropriate structure within the known and former distribution of the species.
10. Until evidence to the contrary, use grazing in preference to fire if biomass management is considered necessary.
12. Do not plant trees and shrubs into habitat as they provide perches for predatory birds and shade habitat.
13. Control invasions of weeds and pasture species (but be wary of the impact of herbicide use in habitat); where possible, use methods that directly target weeds, such as spot spraying and hand removal.
14. Ensure remnant populations remain connected or linked to each other; in cases where remnants have lost connective links, re-establish viable links by revegetating with native grasses and providing rocks and other shelters to act as stepping stones for dispersal.
15. Mark sites and potential habitat onto maps used for planning hazard reduction burns and avoid burning these areas until more research on the impacts of fire on this species and its food is undertaken.

Easy. It is no great wonder people think academics are wasting valuable funding when the money could easily be directed to more important scientific questions … like how to cure the common cold or how to understand women.

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