First eDNA sampling pilot!
Thais, PhD candidate in our Frog Research Team ran her first official pilot survey for her PhD project in the last couple of days! Here are three of the intrepid explorers (I took the photo), Thais, Liam and Kaitlyn of the red boots (our generous volunteer)!
Thais meticulously prepared the equipment, careful not to contaminate the important tubing and filter cups. Kaitlyn recorded site measurement data using a Kestrel wind meter.
The next step was carefully collecting clear rapidly-flowing stream water into the 250 mL sterile filter cup.
This filter cup was attached by a tube to a peristaltic pump, and thence into an outflow tube for collection. Here's the team waiting patiently while the pump chugged along...
After filtering 3 L of water through the cup filter, it was rather clogged with small particulates, so ready for storage. Here Thais is extracting the filter paper from the base of the cup.
In our travels we also discovered some beautiful rainforest...
Filled with bangalow palms...
And an amazing strangler fig!
We also went frogging and caught 13 Fleay's barred frogs.
Here's Kaitlyn gently swabbing the belly of a captured frog. They're pretty docile frogs, and don't become agitated by the procedure.
Still camouflaged as ever!
We also had the good fortune to see a pair of azure kingfishers (roosting for the night over the creek), a Richmond birdwing butterfly, an eel, two ringtail possums, several skinks, and a carpet python, happily entwined around a picnic bench at the campground, ready to surprise an unsuspecting visitor!
One of our less pleasant findings was the discovery of a very-much-domestic cat that had obviously been dumped at the campground (approaching us and meowing). We couldn't get close enough to catch it though. Recent camera trap monitoring has suggested that these sites are a hotspot for feral cats, so now we know why. Feral cats pose a substantial threat to our endangered native species, including Fleay's barred frogs.