BIO:295-101 Australia 2009
Overview • History of Research on Phillip Island • Views of the conservationist • Purpose of Trip • Work Performed • Activities
History of Research on Phillip Island • Research of the Little Blue Penguins began in 1968. • Initial research was done by a volunteer group the “PSG” or Penguin Study Group at the Penguin Parade. • Research began on the penguin’s survival and breeding success rates at the parade. • The “PSG” studies found discovered some very important facts • Their research became the longest running study of any bird in Australia.
History of Research on Phillip Island • The “PSG” worked tirelessly to get proper management for the “Fairy Penguins”. • Finally, twelve years after the “PSG” had formed, the “SAC” or Scientific Advisory Committee formed. • The “SAC” was formed to advise on management problems and helped to fund research. • This was important because no funding was coming from state or federal government.
History of Research on Phillip Island • In October of 1980, Peter Dann, was appointed as a full-time research officer and biological studies of the penguins went underway. • This study wanted to determine: • The status of the penguin population • What were the causes of any decline • How apparent threats should be addressed
History of Research on Phillip Island • Within only five years of the new studies on the penguins, some very alarming statistics were found. • It was confirmed that the penguins were on a decline. • This news hit the researchers and Penguin Parade hard. It was the news the Penguin Parade didn’t want to hear. • Since a lot of the Summerland Peninsula is funded from the tourist coming to the Penguin Parade, they couldn’t afford to lose the penguins at this rate.
History of Research on Phillip Island • The annual trend of penguins from 1977 to 1987 declined more than 50%. Annual Mean Numbers
History of Research on Phillip Island • The exact reason for penguin decline were unclear • Major contributors to the decline include: • Predation by foxes and feral dogs • Habitat destruction due to urban expansion • Cars from the increase of human population • Spread of weeds and erosion • Starvation from lack of food • Oil Spills caused from tankers
History of Research on Phillip Island • Predation by foxes and feral dogs are one of the main reasons for the decline of penguins on land. • A single fox can kill up to 40 penguins in one night.
History of Research on Phillip Island • The research team came up with two main ideas to control the foxes. • Examine the biology of the foxes on the island to provide a basis for determining effective ways to eradicate them. • Test and develop new fox control techniques.
History of Research on Phillip Island • Techniques that are used in controlling the population of foxes and feral dogs include… • Trapping • Poisons • Hunting with dogs • Group Hunting
History of Research on Phillip Island • Habitat destruction due to urban expansion was another big part in the decline of penguins. • In the 60’s, Luxury homes were built all over Summerland Peninsula. A total of 190 homes were built. • It was a beautiful place to have a home, unfortunately the penguins were declining because of the urban expansion.
History of Research on Phillip Island • Effects of expansion on the environment and the penguins. • More homes equals less penguin habitat • Construction of the homes and roads caused compaction of ground. • Burrowing became impossible • Penguins now vulnerable to predators. • Introduction of non-native plants caused decline in native species
Conservation Plan • Control of Urban Expansion and Impacts • Buy back all 776 residential lots which included the 190 homes • Restore the area to near original state through • Habitat management plan • Revegetation plan • Remove fencing and infrastructure
Conservation Plan • The Conservation Department of Phillip Island are working very hard in restoring the Island back to natural habitat. • They are doing this with no government funding. • All their funding comes from tourist’s and private donations, so far they’ve had great success.
Conservation Plan • As a result of conservation efforts, the penguins are showing signs of recovery. Annual Mean Numbers
Conservation Plan • Pilchard Shortage • Pilchard was the main diet for penguins • The fishery collapsed in the mid 90’s • Still unsure of why fishery collapsed and what might increase pilchard numbers • Currently there is no recovery plan • Penguins have shown a switch to anchovies, leatherjackets and sprats
Conservation Plan • Oil Spills • Typically smaller in sized and caused by ships dumping old fuel and ballast • Last major event occurred in 2000 • Fines levied used to increase oil spill response and to build new volunteer housing and accommodations • Better accommodations have increased volunteer work at Phillip Island
Conservation Plan • Oil Spills • Oil spill response includes penguin cleaning • 95% of all affected penguins saved during last oil spill
Most negatively affected on Phillip Island The Little Blue Penguin Also known as the Fairy Penguin
Significant Threats to The Little Blue Penguin • Predators • Oil spills, bush fires, cars • Over-fishing of Pilchards and Anchovies • Habitat loss
How we helped • Summerland Peninsula Fence Removal
Removing Fences • Reduces park maintenance costs • Improves visual amenity • Reduces impact on habitats • Allows for better movement
A united purpose Students from U.S., Australia, and Germany
Restoring habitats and protecting native species is a critical function of Phillip Island Nature Park Native species include: 17 terrestrial mammals 16 marine mammals 250+ bird species 9 reptiles 5 amphibians 3+ species of freshwater fish
Solution to Soil Compaction Man-made Breeding Boxes
Glad we got the sand! Three homes per section Dig it this deep. Buried half way up the box
Results of our work After burying the boxes we covered them with dirt, sand, and mulch. The area is then ready to be planted with indigenous species.
Over time plant growth covers, hides, and keeps the habitat cool Molting is evidence of this box being occupied
Koalas • Koalas were introduced to Phillip Island in the 1890’s when the populations on the mainland had begun to decline • They get their name from an Aboriginal word meaning “no drink” because they rarely drink yet draw 90% of their needed moisture from Eucalyptus leaves they eat • They have a highly developed sense of smell allowing them to discern between healthy and toxic leaves • An adult male can weigh between 8 and 14 kilograms while females are typically 6 to 11
Threats to the Koala • Slight natural predation by dingo’s, owls, and pythons to name a few • Bushfires, traffic, dogs, and cats (4000 die each year by dogs and cars) • Four common Koala diseases caused by the Chlamydia organism which manifest during times of stress: conjunctivitis, pneumonia, urinary and reproductive tract infections • Habitat loss through human settlement and land degradation.
Koala Conservation Centre Opened in 1992 to protect koalas numbers and diminish human trampling of vegetation Free-ranging koalas are now uncommon on Phillip Island
Koala Enclosure Maintenance This is where rehabilitating koalas or breeding pairs are isolated
Eucalypt Sapling Paddock Used to increase food source for Koalas Affectionately known as “ Mozzie” heaven
Possum ShelterMaintenance This is where the wildlife hospital brings possums to gradually reintroduce them to their habitat
“Volly House” Our Accommodations on Phillip Island
Phillip Island Activities • Penguin Parade • Rock Pool Ramble • Seal Rocks • The “Nobbies” • Churchill Island • Rhyll Inlet
Phillip Island Activities • Penguin Parade - watch the Penguins as they came out of the ocean to their homes. • Nature Parks best known and most profitable activity. • Attract about 500,000 people each year to the parade. • Major source of revenue
Rock pool Ramble • Formed in rocky habitat at low tide • Pools trap many interesting creatures • 11 armed star fish • Anemones • Crabs • Cone Snail (poisonous)
Seal Rocks • Home to thousands of Australian Fur Seals • Just off of Philip Island • Accessible by boat ride • Home to females and pups in late summer
The “Nobbies” • Large rocks off the western coast of Phillip island • The Nobbies offer you a chance to walk among nesting seabird colonies and see the amazing coastal scenery • Visitor’s Center provides souvenirs and lunch
Churchhill Island • Heritage Farm • Farmed since the 1850’s • Purchased by Samuel Amess, former Mayor of Melbourne in 1872. • 57 hectares of working farm, ancient Moonah trees, heritage gardens and historical buildings. • The farmhouse and cottages have been restored to their original state • give a glimpse into the past as to how the early Australian settlers lived and farmed.
Rhyll Inlet • The Rhyll Inlet is a Mangrove Swamp on the island. • Depending on the season, various animals use this habitat • Wading Birds • Parrots • Crabs • Shrimp
Melbourne Activities • Melbourne Zoo • Melbourne Aquarium • Yarra River Picnic • Restaurants • Bihn Mihn • Trapezi • La Porchetta
“Melbin” Zoo • The zoo was very large • took most our day but we all had a great time. • House native species and animals similar to US zoo’s • Most of the animals were from Asia where as most of ours come from Africa.