WHAT DOES GEMG FUND?
The GEMG can provide funding for projects that improve environmental knowledge and understanding, promote environmental sustainability, enhance and protect the natural environment, and are relevant to our members.
2019 Funding round has closed, please check in for updates later in the year.
The GEMG has provided funding for the following projects to assist with research studies, to help promote environmental awareness, and to help local groups and organisations remain sustainable.
GENETIC FINGERPRINTING OF MALA (LAGORCHESTES HIRSUTUS) FROM FAECAL DNA TO ESTIMATE POPULATION DENSITY (2019 $10K)
The project will focus on developing a survey technique for the Rufous hare-wallaby or Mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus). Mala are a small macropod, listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). They were once widely dispersed throughout the eastern Goldfields, but are now only found on islands or in fenced enclosures such as the predator-proof enclosure on the Matuwa Indigenous Protected Area (ex-Lorna Glen conservation reserve) in the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) Goldfields Region in central Western Australia. Mala are very elusive and very difficult to trap or monitor. The project will attempt to develop a low-contact survey technique for the elusive mala, using state-of-the-art genetic fingerprinting techniques, which does not rely on trapping animals. Mala are an excellent model species to demonstrate the use of this low-contact survey technique that is widely applicable for other animals that are elusive and exist in low densities. It can provide industry with another method of monitoring wildlife to meet it’s Environmental Impact Assessment obligations with more accuracy and less field effort than conventional approaches.
Previous studies have concluded that scats are able to provide a viable DNA source to identify individuals and census populations. For example, this technique has successfully been used for estimating the abundance of bilbies. The advantages of using such methods are that they are non-invasive and there is no need to directly capture or observe individuals. Sampling periods only need to be from a few days to tens of days long, achieving abundance estimates in a relatively short amount of time.
The funding for the project will allow Shannon Treloar from Edith Cown University to trial the use of this new survey technique to estimate the density of the Mala population within the Matuwa enclosure, which can then be used to infer abundance. This project aims to test if this new technique is effective for Mala population surveys, and therefore can be used for future mala population surveys at Matuwa as well as for other threatened and elusive species across the Goldfields region and more widely in Australia. The project will also provide the first reliable estimate of the abundance of the Mala population in the Matuwa enclosure. This abundance estimate and the continuation of estimating the abundance is essential for the success of management decisions and conservation efforts of Mala.