Credo Station Bush Blitz
A swag of new species including spiders, true bugs and native bees were among the discoveries made when a team of scientists went prospecting at Credo Station in the Western Australian goldfields during September 2011.
It was all part of a nationwide biodiversity discovery program - Bush Blitz - a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia to document the plants and animals across Australia's National Reserve System.
It was the first comprehensive survey conducted on Credo Station, a former pastoral station that is now managed by the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation as part of the National Reserve System.
Out here on Credo Station in the Western Australian goldfields, a team of top biodiversity scientists have been doing a little prospecting, to discover the plants and animals that inhabit this vast former pastoral property.
It's all part of a nation-wide Bush Blitz.
"Bush Blitz is a three year national, multi-million dollar project which is all about species discovery, and it's a partnership project between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch. Credo is part of the National Reserve System, so it's been identified for high conservation value and also there hasn't been very much survey work, baseline work, that's been done here so we really don't know what's actually out here."
Over 10 days, the scientists, with the help of staff from BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia, surveyed this 200,000 hectare property to document its plants and animals. Among the finds was a swag of species that are likely to be new to science.
Dr Mark Harvey
"We'll find a number of new species of spiders. They will include trapdoor spiders in particular - it's one of the target groups of these surveys - we're trying to survey them in every different Bush Blitz expedition that we've been undertaking. I'm also collecting scorpions and other arachnids, that includes things like ticks and mites, and pseudo-scorpions which are my favourite. They're like tiny little scorpions without a tail. We'll find a number of different species and some of those will be new."
Gary Taylor specialises in a group of plant-feeding insects called lerps or psyllids which have not been surveyed in the goldfields region before. In just a couple of days of collecting he found eight to 10 new species and expects to find more.
For botanist, Dr Neil Gibson, Credo has been a wonderland for plant collecting, with its arid environment responding to good rains with a burst of spring flowering and fruiting.
Dr Neil Gibson
"It's a wonderful place to have a conservation reserve because there's all this complex geology. Complex geologies give you complex soils, lots of different plant communities and lots of plants. Already we have collected quite a lot of material that isn't on our list for the area."
Once the day's collecting is done it's back to the Bush Blitz makeshift lab to start the long process of sorting and identifying species, much of which will be completed with DNA sequencing to confirm that suspected new species are different from their close relatives.
"This trip has been fantastic. The scientists that we're working alongside are amazing. Their knowledge of the fauna and flora here is fantastic. It's going to be an extremely important project in discovering the species that are here and providing those lists so we can help manage this type of reserve."
The final tally is expected to include a swag of new invertebrate species, as well as a much better understanding of the plants, mammals and reptiles that inhabit this stunning yet arid environment.