What You Can Do LIFE Education Teachers Teacher Blog Frogs, Skinks and Scats Little Desert National Park VIC Bush Blitz | Oct 2018 Our first day in the field with the Bush Blitz team and researchers from many different teams collected a variety of specimens and recorded data using the scientific method and field equipment. After a scorching hot day yesterday, it was after midnight before it really cooled down. The cool change announced itself with strong gusty winds around 1.30am testing the mettle of our single person tents. Luckily, all emerged unscathed but tired after a restless night listening to the canvas walls flapping. We made an early start today in order to check the drift net pitfall traps. In anticipation of animals being caught overnight, we had to be there early to record and see the specimens before the sun rose too high, causing the animals to dehydrate. It was a very successful morning with many scorpions and beetles found as well as a pair of Fat-tailed Dunnarts and several frogs! Looking at the dry sandy nature of the country here in Little Desert National Park, I thought frogs would be the last creatures that we would see. We heard plenty of these Pobblebonk frogs calling around our farm-stay dam last night. Now, here they were, surviving in moist hollows, moving by night and reproducing in the occasional puddle of water. Amazing. Native cockroaches and scorpions were also common finds in the pitfall traps but the reptile team were happy when we finally found a wood gecko (Diplodactylus spp.) in one of the last pitfalls. We go out again to check the traps in the afternoon and dismantle them on this last day of reptile research. ACTIVITIES Look at the drift net pitfall traps. How do you think they work and what steps would be needed to set one up at school? After lunch, our herpetologists (reptile scientists) headed out into the gusty cooler weather to the central section of Little Desert National Park called Urimbirra. We were also joined by local landowners who worked with us to record trap successes and to pack up the traps for later use. While checking the drift net pitfall lines at each of the 6 sites, we encountered a silvery, sleek, legless lizard and many Shrubland Skinks (Morethia obscura). The second legless lizard which we retrieved from a pitfall trap had the most amazing combination of colour and pattern and moved fluidly despite having rear legs which have evolved over time into little more than a scale bump. This scaly-foot specimen showed us firsthand how the drift net works as it was caught by hand moving along the drift net before it fell into the pit. Another species of skink, Ctenotus spp., was found for the first time in the area with more fantastic colouring and a wood gecko (Diplodactylus spp.), rounded out the afternoon of interesting animal finds. The diversity in plants was also on show throughout the day with many types of wildflowers found across the park which is a long way from its inhospitable namesake. At the end of the day, spider researchers displayed their finds and organised a night time spider-walk while moth researchers set up a light and sheet to attract an abundance of different moth species. Why do you think legless lizards have evolved to have almost no legs at all? What benefit might this have for these creatures? This scat was found in the park, containing grass tree seeds. Which large animal could it be from?