Citizen scientists collaborate on mammal surveys in urban gardens

Wed, 30 Jan 2019

Got a possum in your garden in Albany or Bunbury?  Dr Rochelle Steven from the University of Queensland and Bronte Van Helden a PhD Candidate from the University of Western Australia are on the look out for the critically endangered western ringtail possum.

With help from citizen scientist residents they are undertaking mammal surveys in urban gardens in the two cities in January and February.  The researchers are looking for the presence of both native and introduced mammals, including common brush-tailed possums, western ring-tailed possums, quenda and rats. They are also taking echo-meter recordings which will be analysed after the surveys to check for the presence of microbats.

The surveys will help us better understand the urban mammal communities residing in the two cities.

Bronte Van Helden from the University of Western Australia is working with resident citizen scientists to survey gardens for mammals in Albany. Photo: Paul Close.

The surveys will also help us to learn how reliable citizen science can be for monitoring threatened species in urban areas.  Approximately 50 residents in each city have completed an online questionnaire about what mammals they have observed in their gardens. Bronte and Rochelle are following up on the questionnaire with 3 visits to each resident’s garden.  The garden survey results will then be compared with the questionnaires results to see which species residents are accurately detecting.  

This will help us better understand how the public can make important contributions to ecological science.


Dr Rochelle Steven from the University of Queensland is working with residents to undertake the mammal surveys in Bunbury. Photo: Lee Knight

Top image: Western ringtail possum mum and bub, Photo: Peter Eckersley
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