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Common Spadefoot Toad (Neobatrachus sudelli)
by Geoff Heard
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By Rob Hale,

WetMAP scientist Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI)


In the last issue, I wrote an article outlining how Geoff Brown (also from ARI) and I had spent several weeks analysing data collected from the WetMAP frog monitoring program during 2018-2020. Our results showed clear benefits of environmental watering for frogs, and that water quality and habitat are also important.


Since the last issue, we have been busy writing a technical report summarising our key findings and providing recommendations to catchment management authorities and the Department of the Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) so that they can use the information to adapt the way they manage the flow of water for the environment. The report focuses not only on frogs but also vegetation, fish, and birds, which are being monitored as part of the wider WetMAP program. Collectively, our results provide a very detailed picture of the benefits of environmental watering for wetlands.


We reported that for both frogs and birds abundance (the number of individuals) and species richness (the number of species) were greater at watered sites. The same is possibly true for fish, but more data are required to confirm the significance of our findings. There was also more breeding activity in frogs, birds and fish at watered wetlands. Vegetation benefits too – we reported more plant material and more wetland species in watered wetlands.


The WetMAP team are now very busy planning for the next phase of the project. One of the ideas we are exploring is placing small devices (called “AudioMoths” – a very popular way to study wildlife, google for more info!) at wetlands to record frog calls that are then identified using computer programs. This is a fantastic way to collect very detailed information about frog calling and offers great promise as a tool to monitor responses to environmental watering in addition to data collected by scientists and citizen scientists.



Little Lake Meran, central Victoria

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Dams, ponds, lakes, billabongs, swamps…


The term “wetland” refers to all of the above and more! Wetlands don’t have to be wet all the time to be considered wetlands. Wetlands don’t have to have standing water either – saturated ground also makes a wetland. Wetlands also don’t have to be fresh water – marine lagoons and inland saline wetlands can also count.


Some wetlands have trees growing in and around them and some wetlands may have no vegetation at all, or short, slow-growing vegetation. Man-made and natural waterbodies are both considered wetlands. Rivers and creeks are not normally considered wetlands in Victoria, but very slow-flowing waterways can sometimes count.


The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty on wetlands and it uses a broader definition that includes rivers. The Convention on Wetlands provides an international framework for the conservation and management of wetlands.



Gippsland Lakes Coastal Wetland RAMSAR listed significant site.

Photo: RAMSAR Official site for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Wetlands are not just beautiful, providing support for biodiversity, they act as sediment traps and filter nutrients and pollutants, protecting the water that people drink. Around the world, wetlands support economies through tourism, food and recreation.

In Victoria, wetlands are an important part of Aboriginal cultural heritage and have provided food and livelihoods for people for thousands of years.



Even artificial ponds count as wetlands and have cultural and ecological value.

Photo: Pond Viewing Chair by Michael Coghlan


Find out more at:

https://www.ramsar.org/

https://www.water.vic.gov.au/waterways-and-catchments/rivers-estuaries-and-waterways/wetlands

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