University of Tasmania
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Effects of Environmental Stress on Alpine Skinks in Tasmania: an Earthwatch- funded project

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-26, 09:56 authored by Susan JonesSusan Jones, Ashley EdwardsAshley Edwards, Whittier, J
Earthwatch is a global organisation that "promotes sustainable conservation of our natural environments and cultural heritage by creating partnerships among scientists, the general public, educators, and businesses." Earthwatch-funded projects involve volunteers who assist scientists to carry out research projects of high conservation value. Our project focuses on the spotted skink, Niveoscincus ocellatus, an abundant, medium-sized viviparous species which inhabits relatively undisturbed habitats in the World Heritage Wilderness in Central Tasmania, but is also distributed along the east coast where populations are highly impacted by human activity. Due to their specific reproductive adaptations, these animals are potentially threatened by climate change: alpine populations of spotted skinks could face reproductive failure if the weather at the end of summer is unseasonably poor. The project aims to evaluate whether potential climate change or local habitat alteration, including possible effects of persistent agricultural chemicals, may affect the lizards' ability to cope with short term stressors, and/or their patterns of reproduction and development. In our first field season (Summer 2004), we focused on measuring plasma corticosterone concentrations and obtaining preliminary data on diurnal activity patterns in lizards from disturbed and undisturbed sites at the Central Plateau and East Coast. The Earthwatch volunteers assist in numerous ways such as helping with capture and marking of animals, observing behaviours in the field, or assisting with vegetation surveys. All of these tasks can be done with minimal guidance and training in the field, which is a fundamental requirement for a successful Earthwatch project.


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  • Unpublished

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Wollongong, Australia

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conference poster, presented at ANZSCPB annual meeting 2004

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  • Open

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