Fauna of Kings Park
On the 25th November Kings Park Bushland Manager, Ryan Glowacki, treated an enthralled audience to a rundown on those that run, creep, fly and slither in Kings park. But first, some statistics. In the 270 hectares that make up the bushland in Kings Park there have been a total of 6 mammal, 92 bird, 27 reptile, 563 insects (so far), 5 molluscs and 13 invasive species recorded. There are also 324 plant and a whopping 385 fungal species.
The quenda quandary
After 1981 quendas weren’t sighted in Kings Park until they reappeared in 2012 around the May Drive Parklands area. In 2015, Ryan and Marty Brotherston were surveying restoration sites, noticed masses of soil turnover and assumed it was rabbits. When they tried to trap them they caught a possum instead, followed by a quenda. The question was, where did they come from? With the help of research scientists DNA testing revealed that quendas from Kings Park were closely related to quenda found in Melville, Kwinana, Cockburn and the Beeliar wetlands area. This would suggest someone had released them in Kings Park (see Ryan’s article in People & Plants).
As quendas dig holes (and they dig a lot of holes) they bury leaf litter so it breaks down more quickly and nutrients are released into the soil. This has been shown to improve seed germination and seedling health. Kings Park had previously been advised that the bushland may not have the required vegetation structure for the release and successful reintroduction of quenda. Clearly someone forgot to tell the quendas because having set up motion sensor cameras in the park, they found quendas along the scarp, throughout the majority of the bushland and around the restaurants and cafes. Quendas continue to appear in new sites as they move through the bushland.
Goats: one goat that is, with a leash. It took Ryan and Marty 6 months to track it down and it was every hard to catch. Eventually they succeeded and relocated it. Marty gets regular updates. Feral cats: using motion cameras Ryan has only spotted 2 domesticated cats over the previous 2 years indicating that feral cats no longer live in Kings Park bushland. Palm squirrels: were found in Saw Avenue in the palms, however they were easy to catch. Rabbits: there is a control program for rabbits and rabbit warrens are surveyed each year. Interestingly, both quendas and spotted pardalotes use rabbit burrows which can make rabbit control difficult. Red foxes: have made the news headlines. Michael Maine from ECU is currently tracking their movements in Kings Park and Bold Park with the aid of GPS tracking collars. Results should help to provide bushland management with an insight into the daily lives of foxes in Kings Park.
These include dugites, monitor lizards, skinks and bearded dragons. They have 10 years of trapping data for reptiles, looking at response to fire, species numbers and population changes overtime.
On the research front, they’ve discovered the consumption of poisoned rats can be detrimental to the health of predating Southern Boobook owls. Other research, ie sitting in a backyard on Thomas Street, found that only approximately 20% of birds cross Thomas Street from Kings Park to utilise neighbouring gardens which shows that healthy urban bushland areas are vital for the survival of many bird species.
Research subjects include native bees, bush crickets and trapdoor spiders. They’ve also studied the relationship between the fungus gnat and greenhood orchids (orchid using chemical signals to attract gnats for pollination), the mating habits of millipedes and the water bears (although these are not insects) inhabiting mosses and lichens growing in Kings Park.
Molluscs and amphibians
One species of native land snail in Kings Park is different to any other making it a rare and unique species. The more unusual amphibians are the turtle frog (they caught quite a few while researching them), which comes out of burrows and mates when it rains in Summer. The tadpoles hatch out in the burrows.