Tarkine abuzz with activity

Bush Blitz scientists explore the Tarkine for new species.

Science. New species may have been discovered in our region, though months of work lies ahead in determining exactly what has been found.

Fourteen scientists from Tasmania and mainland states spent time in the Tarkine recently as part of Bush Blitz: the country’s largest nature discovery project.

The partnership between the Australian government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch sees scientists team up to discover and document the plants and animals in Australian landscapes.

The Tarkine blitz saw the team base themselves at Corinna Wilderness Lodge for 11 days, surveying areas such as Arthur Pieman Conservation Area, Savage River National Park and Reserve and Pieman River Reserve.

Since the program began in 2010, more than 900 new and undescribed species have been discovered.

“The scientists collected plants, bryophytes, lichens, fish, spiders, moths, butterflies, snails, beetles and a whole range of insects,” Bush Blitz manager Jo Harding said of the group’s most recent exercise.

“On every expedition we also take soil samples as part of a national project studying micro-organisms in our soils and record what birds are in the area.

“There’s still lots of analysis to be done back in the labs to sort through exactly what we found – with taxonomy (the science of discovering, describing and naming species), there can be months of work to formally identify a species and determine if new or unusual things have been discovered.”

This was the group’s third Tasmanian visit; previous expeditions were undertaken in the Central Highlands and Flinders Island.

“We choose locations based on careful scientific modelling – the beautiful locations are a big bonus though!”

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