Help call for city reptile study

Ashleigh Wolfe with a bobtail lizard. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d425925
Ashleigh Wolfe with a bobtail lizard. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d425925

The 23-year-old needs to raise more than $50,000 to explore whether urban reptiles are able to adapt to changes in diet, habitat and behaviour compared with rural reptiles.

Ms Wolfe said urban ecology was a new field and there was lots of ground to cover to catch up with the level of knowledge on other environmental fields.

‘In Perth, we know next to nothing about dugites as far as research goes, and yet hundreds of dugites are moved from people’s back yards or roads every summer,’ she said.

‘I believe that understanding our native reptiles, especially in the context of Perth, will definitely go a long way towards improving reptile education and help get people excited about what’s in their own back yard.’

Over the next three years, Ms Wolfe will capture 30 bobtails and 60 dugites across Perth and the Shire of Harvey.

A GPS tracking device will be attached to their tail before the reptiles are released back into their natural habitat.

Each tracking device will cost up to $1000.

Ms Wolfe will go out into the field to check the animals once a week.

After two months of monitoring the reptiles, she will recapture the bobtails and dugites, remove the GPS devices and release them back into the wild.

Ms Wolfe said she would be able to trace how far the animals moved over time.

She said the information would be used as a predictive tool for land planning and conservation efforts to minimise negative impacts of disturbance.

‘I will also be able to compare the small town reptiles with the city ones to see if there are any differences due to urbanisation,’ Ms Wolfe said.

Using crowd-source fundraising website Kickstarter, Ms Wolfe is relying on community support to help money for the project.

To donate, visit https://www.kick starter.com/projects/ashleighwolfe/ perths-urban-reptile-ecology-tracking-reptiles-in