During the past field season, we got a chance to visit the Western Australia Threatened Species Forum in Geraldton, WA. At the forum we watched many presentations about the various research and conservation projects in the state. WA has the most threatened species in Australia and I certainly learned a lot about the various plant and animal species like the Gilbert's potoroo and numbats.
With me attending from the Mayfield Lab was Chrissy Elmer (our lab manager) and James Hagan (a visiting Masters student). There were many fantastic presentations and it was a great opportunity to also talk with other researchers and conservationists working around the state and the world.
One of the first talks was by Dr. Carlos Drews from the Jane Goodall Institute talking about the need for individual passion to conserve species. He talked of his time in Uganda and his interactions with the individual chimps in the area. I was certainly inspiring for me!
There were also some fantastic talks about plant conservation and rare plant species. Dr. Wolfgang Lewandrowski talked about using seed traits to predict regeneration and Dr Stephen Hooper talked about his research on fire opportunistic plant species!
I was really intrigued to learn about some of the local threatened animal species (some I had never heard of). One such was the Gilbert's Potoroo. The Gilbert's Potoroo is the world's rarest marsupial and also one of the most highly fungivorous mammals in the world (over 90% of its diet is from native truffles). How neat but also how scary that they are so endangered (Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List 3.1)!
Another aspect I found exciting was the presentations on using Aboriginal knowledge of conservation. Presentations by the Matuwa Kurrara Kurrara Ranger Program demonstrated how they pass down their knowledge and use that knowledge to help conserve threatened species and track feral cats (that are killing the threatened species). Another program uses Martu traditional owners' knowledge to track mankarr (or Greater Bilbies) in the region.
Overall it was a fantastic event! I especially enjoyed that the presenter gender balance was nearly 50:50 (see photo of full program below)! Great job NACC and all sponsers!
I also wrote a short post for NACC (Northern Agricultural Catchments Council) who sponsored my attendance of the forum: Blog post here. James Hagan also wrote a report about the forum for NACC which you can find here.