Last week, PEAC Lab members attended the 2023 Western Australian #BiodiversityConference, held on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar (Perth, Western Australia).
The conference, held over 3 days at the University of Western Australia, was attended by over 600 delegates eager to share the important work being done across the state by both Indigenous and Western Scientists. We were inspired by the First Nations Elders, Rangers, land and sea managers, and Traditional Owners from across much of Western Australia who presented on the opening day of plenary talks.
TRACKING THE GHOSTS OF THE COASTS
Adrian Gleiss and Jenna Hounslow from PEAC Lab were privileged to present alongside 150 other talks about some of the collaborative research PEAC Lab is undertaking alongside First Nations scientists and Country Managers on Saltwater Country throughout the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Adrian's (rather animated!) talk focused on tracking the movements, dispersal and behaviour of 3 critically endangered sawfish species, the "ghosts of the coasts", in northern Western Australian waters. His talk highlighted the ongoing sawfish tracking projects by a large research team, from Murdoch University, the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and Ranger groups from the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association, Nyangumarta Warrarn Aboriginal Corporation, Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation and Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation.
SEA TURTLES AND BIG DATA
Jenna showcased some of the collaborative work we have been doing since 2018, with Yawuru rangers and the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions, on beautiful Yawuru sea country (near Broome in Western Australia). 'Big' data were collected from flatback turtles (an Australian endemic sea turtle!) equipped with high-resolution multi-sensor biologging tags. These big data were incorporated into behaviour-specific habitat suitability models to identify and characterise suitable subsurface foraging and resting habitats and reveal drivers of habitat selection for flatback turtles. Habitat suitability models are a common tool used by conservation planners, to manage and protect threatened species around the world, so this transferable method has useful applications for conservation.
PEAC Lab extends a big thank you to the conference organising committee, and to all the delegates who were so willing to share their inspiring stories and some of the lessons, challenges and opportunities associated with listening to Country.
All photos credit Viewfinder Photography (shootproof.com)