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Mary Cairncross BioBlitz
  • Last updated:
  • 30 Dec 2019

In March 2019, the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve (MCSR) hosted its first ever BioBlitz. The BioBlitz is a unique research event aimed at studying and celebrating biodiversity in the reserve. It brings together a variety of people including:

  • scientists
  • artists
  • Traditional Owners
  • students
  • volunteers
  • members of the broader community.

Five majestic strangler figs (Ficus watkinsiana), each upwards of 45 metres tall, were selected for study. Professional tree-climbers helped give vertical access to the living skyscrapers. This allowed the research teams to survey from ground level to the emergent canopy. There are still some cameras and microphones active at the top of the forest. You can listen to the LIVE sounds of the canopy through the Listen Up project.

Traditional Owners, the Jinibara People, opened the BioBlitz and each of the five fig trees that was surveyed was bestowed a Jinibara name:

  • Gureya (fig)
  • BarrBarr (Flying fox)
  • Mook Mook (ghost)
  • Dala (staghorn)
  • Djuli Djuli (spirit).

The BioBlitz participants contributed their time to support biodiversity conservation at the reserve. The range of scientific teams included:

  • Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast, and PhD students from the Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland - who got up close and personal with dung beetles, bats and other mammals in the canopy.
  • Scientists from the Queensland Herbarium and the Queensland Plant Pathology Herbarium - who took samples of moss and fungi to be analysed and recorded. The scientific research was also supported by private consultancies looking at plants and epiphytes in particular.
  • The Entomological Society of Queensland and the Queensland Mycological Society – who supported teams interested in insects and mushrooms.

A creative research team of six artists was also formed. They recorded the rainforest’s biodiversity in colour and prose in five visual diaries. Their exquisite work will be displayed in an upcoming BioBlitz inspired exhibition at the reserve.

Finally, over 250 members of the public participated in a range of citizen-science, cultural and creative activities throughout the BioBlitz, including:

  • botanical printmaking and nature journaling
  • Jinibara talking circles
  • pademelon counts
  • insect and bat walks
  • a fascinating discussion panel on bio-communication held at the Maleny Community Centre.

It will take some time for all the results of the BioBlitz to be finalised. This is due to the verification process of individual species. But, as findings are confirmed they will be revealed in the Rainforest Discovery Centre at the reserve as part of the ‘Biodiversity - That’s Life’ exhibition. Ongoing opportunities to learn and contribute to citizen science include the Junior Ranger Challenge and Cairncross Questagame.