Surveys and monitoring at a glance

photos for research page

Photos: Judy Horner, Paul Horner and Sonya Duus

The plants and animals of Bimblebox have attracted a number of ecologists, birdwatchers and nature lovers to the property over the years. Many of these species have been carefully recorded in surveys.

  • Birds    ~*~

In total, 153 bird species have been recorded on Bimblebox. The sound of the magnificent Bimblebox dawn chorus was captured in the Spring of 2010 by the team’s then 11-year-old sound technician, Karl Hoch.

Black-throated Finch: Birds Australia confirmed the sighting of a flock of Endangered Black Throated Finch (Poephila cincta) by one of its members on Bimblebox Nature Refuge in May 2011. The birds were heard by two other Birds Australia members in November 2011.

  • Reptiles and amphibians  —–]—-[–(>

There is a rich diversity of reptiles and frogs on Bimblebox. So far, 38 species of reptiles and and 9 species of native frogs have been identified. Graham Armstrong has done a fantastic job of bringing the various records together. You can see either a simple list of the native reptiles and frogs of Bimblebox, or Graham’s more detailed report.

  • Other animal species [coming soon]
  • Plants [coming soon]

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Research Projects

Anderson, E.R. (Birds Australia).

Trends in avian diversity at ‘Glen Innes’ [Bimblebox Nature Refuge], Central Queensland

P1000401_black masked swallows_croppedFourteen long term bird monitoring sites have been established at ‘Glen Innes’ [Bimblebox Nature Refuge] in the intact eucalypt woodlands to monitor trends in avian diversity due to climate change and land use. The sites have been located to measure the effects of grazing pressure and fire on the property. The sites are also integrated with the other research activities being implemented by EPA and DPI & F. A significant outcome will be the assessment of the potential for birds as surrogates for monitoring biodiversity and ecological health on a landscape scale.

Fensham, R (Qld Herbarium)

Maintaining the open character of eucalypt woodlands with fire

P1000288‘An experimental trial has been established at ‘Glen Innes’ [Bimblebox Nature Refuge], with co-funding from Land and Water Australia and the Queensland EPA. The project seeks to weigh the costs and benefits of using fire in conjunction with pastoralism. The project will look at the effects of fire on the structure of woodlands, their biodiversity, and pastoral production.’

McCosker, J (EPA)

Relationships between biodiversity and land condition PhD thesis

‘My work involves the assessment of the biodiversity condition of silver-leaved ironbark across 25 properties in the Desert Uplands. The main focus is avian and plant diversity and how this is related to grazing land management on these various properties. My hope is that the work will yield; a simple biodiversity assessment tool, the biodiversity values, and awareness of positive grazing management strategies that are compatible with the maintenance of biodiversity’.

Queensland DPI & F

1. Developing Long-term Carrying Capacity models for the Desert Uplands

This project has customised the procedure for estimating LCC for the climate and soils of the land types in the Desert Uplands. The work involved fine tuning the procedure by working with 9 commercial properties. We have now moved on to the case study stage, working with graziers on-property to assess the usefulness of the procedure in strategic decision making. Glen Innes is one of these properties. Land types and land condition have been assessed. Discussions are on-going with the owners for the potential for a wet season spelling strategy through rotational grazing to assist in the improvement of land condition.

2. Understanding change in Queensland’s grazed woodlands (TRAPS woodland monitoring).

The first project consists of five woodland monitoring sites on Glen Innes [Bimblebox Nature Refuge] designed to provide quantitative information on woody vegetation trends for silver-leaved ironbark and poplar box communities in this region. These five sites are part of a larger network of over 100 monitoring sites covering the grazed woodlands within Queensland. These sites provide information to generate a fundamental understanding of the impact of management (grazing, fire), climate and increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere on woodland vegetation. Long term monitoring is necessary, as woody species can survive 80 years or more and the outcomes of management strategies are not apparent in the short term.

Outputs from the TRAPS monitoring network have been published in a number of collaborative projects through the CRC for Tropical savannas, CRC for Greenhouse Accounting and Meat and Livestock Australia funding. Recent publications include:

  • Hoffmann, MB. (2006)Application of tree and stand allometrics to the determination of biomass and its flux in some north-east Australian woodlands. Masters thesis. University of Central Queensland.
  • Burrows, WH, Henry, BK, Back, PV, Hoffmann, MB, Tait, LJ, Anderson, ER, Menke, N, Danaher, T, Carter, JO and McKeon, GM (2002)Growth and carbon stock change in eucalypt woodlands in northeast Australia: ecological and greenhouse sink implications. Global Change Biology. 8: 769-784.
  • Bray SG, Liedloff A, Sim AK, Back PV, Cook G, Hoffmann M (2007)Comparison of woody vegetation change datasets from the grazed woodlands of central Queensland In ‘Proceedings of the Northern Beef Research Update Conference’. Townsville.
  • Fensham RJ, Bray SG, Fairfax RJ (2007)Evaluation of aerial photography for predicting trends in structural attributes of Australian woodland including comparison with ground-based monitoring data. Journal of Environmental Management 83, 392-401.

3. Assessment of vegetation change in the Burdekin Catchment of Queensland

The 2nd project was an analysis of woody vegetation change over centennial and decadal time-scales. Being able to assess vegetation change over longer time scales provides information on whether the currently observed tree thickening is above the long term average tree density at a particular location. The tree thickening may be linked to modern land management (e.g. grazing domestic livestock, fire suppression) and/or increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The technique used analysed soil carbon isotopes which relates to a change in ratio of tree and grass carbon entering the soil carbon over time. Two sites were analysed at Glen Innes (the sites were also TRAPS sites) with another 46 sites assessed in the Burdekin catchment and a site assessed near Longreach. The results of the project are published in:

  • Bray SG, Krull ES, Harms BP, Baxter N, Rutherford M, Yee M, Cogle L (2006)’Assessment of vegetation change in the Burdekin Catchment of Queensland – project report. QI06091.’ Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland, QI06091.
  • Krull E, Bray S, Harms B, Baxter N, Bol R, Farquher G (2007)Development of a stable isotope index to assess decadal-scale vegetation change and aplication to woodlands of the Burdekin catchment, Australia. Global Change Biology 13.
  • Dr Rudd, C. Ground-storey Vegetation Monitoring (Grass Check)A series of permanent “GRASS Check” (Grazier Rangeland Assessment for Self-Sustainability) and photo points have been established across the property. Monitoring, undertaken annually, is based on ground-cover and species composition. A broad assessment of land condition is made at each site using calculations of pasture yields, tree and shrub density and growth rates. Data is condensed, correlated and addressed so that the impacts of management practices, trials and climatic events can be independently evaluated. This project is designed to detect the less obvious but more important subtle changes and pasture and under-storey vegetation.

Vanderduys, E et al. (CSIRO)

Flora and fauna diversity in cleared and intact woodlands of the Desert Uplands

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems currently have a biodiversity monitoring programme in place on ‘Glen Innes’ [Bimblebox Nature Refuge] and two neighbouring stations. This programme is part of a much larger project assessing the relationship between the grazing practices and biodiversity. BioTools seeks to answer questions such as: How does grazing affect different species of animals and plants in Queensland’s rangelands? How do activities associated with grazing, such as woodland clearing and thinning, burning and waterpoint management affect different species of animals in Queensland’s rangelands?

From the information we gather in our surveys we hope to be able to provide a series or recommendations, or ‘tools’, for graziers who may wish to manage for biodiversity on some shape or form on their land. As part of our biodiversity monitoring programme we have established 10 permanent monitoring sites on ‘Glen Innes’ [Bimblebox Nature Refuge] in a number of different regional ecosystems. These monitoring sites are located in country with little grazing pressure and no tree clearing.

The important point is that they are located in close proximity to other monitoring sites we have established on neighbouring properties where broad-scale tree-clearing has occurred and/or grazing pressure is significantly higher. This provides a unique opportunity to compare the long-term effects of the management practices in place on these neighbouring properties with those in place on ‘Glen Innes’.

Coal exploration activities are likely to affect the results of our ongoing monitoring activities, by creating increased human presence in a relatively isolated area, increasing ‘edge effects’ on woodland fauna, and resulting in significant amounts of clearing.