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In 2010, the Australian National University (ANU) commenced a large-scale biodiversity monitoring project across New South Wales and into Southern Queensland.

The aim of this project was to monitor biodiversity within one of Australia’s most iconic ecosystems, called Box Gum Grassy Woodlands. Woodlands (as they are commonly referred) are familiar to many people as the ecosystem within south-eastern Australian rural landscapes, dominated by trees such as Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and Blakelyi’s Red Gum (Eucalyptus blakelyi).

Spanning the entire extent of south-eastern Australia, the fertile soils of woodlands are also critical for sustaining Australia’s agricultural food network. Agricultural pressure to produce livestock and cereal grains has lead to extensive modification of the woodlands, and today less than 4% of the huge original extent persists.

The research team at the ANU, led by Professor David Lindenmayer, is particularly interested in understanding the value of these remaining fragments of woodlands to many native plants and animals.

In particular the ANU has sought out ways to monitor the reptile and amphibian (collectively called herpetofauna for those trivia buffs) diversity within these woodland patches. They do this by deploying different habitat ‘substrates’ into woodland patches, and each year returning to survey what reptiles are utilising these substrates.

In 2010, Salamander Bay Recycling (www.salamanderbayrecycling.org,au) provided the ANU with over 2,000 recycled roofing tiles which were to be used in their monitoring project.

These tiles are now scattered throughout the woodlands and are helping to gather critical information about woodland reptile and amphibian biodiversity.

If you’d like to read more about this study, take a look at the attached PDF paper entitled: “Comparative use of active searches and artificial refuges to survey reptiles in temperate eucalypt woodlands”.

NOTE: An abstract of the study can be found here: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR11118.htm

For more information on the ANU research team involved in the study visit: http://fennerschool.anu.edu.au/research/groups/conservation-landscape-ecology

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