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Citizen Science

Our citizen science projects assist in data collection for Lord Howe Island conservation projects.

Join one of our citizen science monitoring projects (run by the Lord Howe Island Museum) and change the lives of critically endangered animals including the Lord Howe Island Phasmid and the Lord Howe Island woodhen.

We have over 15 citizen science projects that will be running over winter that monitor flora, fauna, marine life, and invertebrates, get involved in the conservation of our world heritage values.

Aim: Collect data on Flora, Fauna and Marine Life (May 2018 – Aug 2020) that will feed into the monitoring required for conservation projects.

Description: Participants will be involved in collecting biodiversity data with the assistance of supervisors. Data collected will feed into a substantial database of information.

Training: Participants will be provided with basic training and data collection exercises will be overseen by a trained supervisor. Procedure documents will be provided to all participants.

Join the citizen science programs, talks, and lectures and see the species, which this project is safeguarding.

The Citizen Science Options are:

Plastics Monitoring (Seabirds)

Our seabirds are being impacted by ocean plastic debris and this project monitors ocean plastic by collecting rubbish off beaches, which is sorted and classified into various categories and recorded into a national database. This is to be done in two phases with both macro plastics and microplastics being monitored and provides valuable data to help understand the issue and support solutions.

Beetle Monitoring

Surveys of beetle species. Beetles are a major component of Lord Howe Island’s invertebrate fauna, with over 530 species recorded. Some areas are under-collected and this project is to carry out sampling in these areas. Collecting of beetles will be with a device called a malaise trap. The beetles collected will then be sorted into groups for later identification. This project will form part of pre rodent eradication monitoring. Dr Chris Reid from the Australian Museum will be leading this research trip.

Sea Slug Sensis

Surveys of nudibranchs and other sea slugs. Sea slugs are the most colourful of marine invertebrates and many species are short-lived and quite rare. Summer surveys located 75 species and these winter surveys will show what species are present all year, and maybe species present only in winter. Surveys involve searching areas in the Lagoon by snorkelling, and reef walking intertidal areas at low tide.

Clam Monitoring

Surveys of the clam Tridacna maxima. Lord Howe Island is an outlier in the Pacific Ocean for the clam Tridacna maxima. This project will carry out a population census using drones and ground truthing. This will involve visiting various intertidal rock platforms at low tide and measuring various parameters with the clams. Surveys will also confirm whether or not the species of clam Tridacna noae is present on the Island. Dr. Stephen Smith Director of the National Marine Science Centre will be leading this trip.

Ghost Crab Survey

Surveys of Ghost crabs. Lord Howe Island has two species of Ghost crabs  Ocypode ceratophthalma lives along the high tide line of sandy beaches while Ocypode cordimana inhabits sandy soil within 30 metres of the beach margin. Rodents predate on ghost crabs, and these surveys are being done pre rodent eradication; to compare with post rodent eradication numbers and determine what impact rodents were having on these two species on Lord Howe Island.

Land Snail Survey

Lord Howe Island has diverse land snail species, with 67 described species, and 37 undescribed species. For most of these snails, little information is available about their abundance, distribution, taxonomy and ecology. The lack of knowledge about many of these species, including some of those listed as endangered, limits conservation efforts. The project will collect snails from various habitats and form part of pre-rodent eradication surveys to compare to post-eradication surveys and monitor changes to populations and their distribution.

Fungi Survey

Fungi photo collection. Fungi are one of the most colourful objects you see on the forest floor and usually delight the walker who spots one. There are millions of different types of fungi throughout the world. The “mushroom” with a stalk and cap is what we often think of as a fungus, but they come in many sizes and a staggering array of shapes, textures and colours. Little is known about the fungi of Lord Howe Island, and this project is to collate photographs to archive for future identification.

Kentia Palm Forest Monitoring

Pre rodent eradication surveys of Howea palms. Rodents impact heavily on our endemic palms by consuming both seeds and seedlings. As a measure of the impact that rodents are having on our Howea palm forest, surveys of population structure are being carried out pre rodent eradication to compare with surveys post rodent eradication.

Marine Algae Monitoring

Walking and snorkelling excursions to survey and collect specimens of algae, followed by workshops on how to process, identify and preserve specimens for a reference collection (herbarium). The Lord Howe Island Marine Park has an unusual mix of coral and algae, not seen anywhere else in the. There are over 300 species of macroalgae in the Marine Park with around 50 being endemic. Participants will help build a reference collection, with the expert supervision of Professor Gerard Kraft who has authored two books on local macroalgae.

Intertidal Reef Monitoring

Intertidal fauna surveys. Walking at low tides on the intertidal rock platforms, trialing various search methods to validate the most effective methods. Identification sheets will be supplied showing the most common animals species to be found, and a trained observer will be on hand to verify species. These surveys will also provide data on species distributions within different habitats.

Coral Identification and Monitoring

Tutorials on how to use the Coral Finder © toolkit and a follow-up snorkelling excursion. Lord Howe Island Marine Park contains the worlds southernmost coral reef and a unique mix of tropical and temperate marine species, including a high level of species found nowhere else in the world. Leading coral biologist Professor Morgan Pratchett will be leading workshops on basic coral identification and taxonomy that can be applied to any coral reef ecosystem around the planet.

Finding Nemo (Anemone Fish Monitoring)

Snorkeling surveys of McCulloch’s anemonefish (Amphiprion mccullochi). This endemic fish is found only within Lord Howe Island Marine Park and nearby Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs. It is locally abundant in the lagoon at LHI where its host anemone is also abundant. The lagoon at LHI represents the last remaining stronghold in the world for this anemonefish and is a key indicator species for the Lord Howe Island Marine Park. Participants will need to be physically fit and confident at snorkelling.   

Currawong  surveys

The Lord Howe Island Currawong is an endemic subspecies only found on the island, with an estimated population of 300. Researchers over the past few years have caught and banded many of these to ascertain their foraging range. If you see any Currawongs whilst you are out on the walking tracks and you are close enough to see the bands you can record these with the location sighted and bring the observations to the Museum. There are 3 bands, 2 on each leg so it is important to record left leg and right legs colours.

Turtle Monitoring

Visual surveys of the size, age, and species of turtles at the Lord Howe Island Marine Park. There are four species of turtles which occur in the LHI Marine Park – the Green and Hawksbill turtles, and less commonly the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles. All four are globally vulnerable or endangered, little is known about the local sea turtle populations on the Island. There will also be surveys of the frequency and nature of human interactions with turtles in the Marine Park.

Sea spurge project

Sea spurge Euphorbia paralias is a coastal weed introduced into Australia from the Mediterranean. This weed can establish dense infestations on beach areas which can reduce native flora biodiversity, alter the natural shape and structure of beach and dunes and have adverse effects on the nesting habitat of seabirds. The project will involve hand removal of this weed species. To understand the life cycle and seed longevity of this weed at Lord Howe Island, volunteers will be asked to record numbers they remove.

Seabird first responders course

Lord Howe Island is a haven for breeding seabirds, with fourteen different species breeding here each year, in numbers of hundreds of thousands.  Many of these species of birds are vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts such as pollution, marine debris and oil spills.  Seabirds and shorebirds are particularly susceptible to these impacts and learning about the potential impacts and guidelines for the effective first response provide participants with an understanding and knowledge of how to assist in seabird rescue, care, and emergency response.

View the PDF –

Please fill in the following survey to sign up for activities, lectures, citizen science and other activities available May-Sept 2018.