Climate models predict that local temperatures in Queensland will rise about 3.5 degrees Centigrade in the next century, resulting in a nearly 50 percent extinction rate among animals found only in the Wet Tropics. As temperatures warm, animals living in islands of cooler mountaintop habitat will be forced ever higher, until they run out of mountain. Other rainforest life may be restricted from shifting their range due to barriers from land clearing, roads and fences, or weeds and feral animals. Preparing to conserve rainforest biodiversity in the face of these enormous changes will require a deeper understanding of current ranges of forest creatures.
You can help Dr. Stephen Williams (James Cook University) measure the distribution and abundance of animals in the unrivaled Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, to assess the impact of climate change.
This is a unique opportunity for teachers to visit some of the region's most magnificent rainforests and see a diverse array of forest animals at close quarters, from leaf-tailed geckos to possums. Working with Dr Williams and his research team, you will sample the abundance of birds, reptiles, mammals, frogs, plants, and insects at 200-metre elevation intervals up little-used mountain tracks. You will set insect traps and sort their contents, trap small mammals, hunt for lizards, comb tropical streams and forest transects for calling frogs, collect bird abundance data, and spotlight for nocturnal mammals and reptiles. In your free time, you may swim in isolated rainforest streams and explore the forest tracks, or take a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
Meals and Accommodation
For three nights, one each at the beginning, middle, and end of your trip, you will stay in Atherton in a comfortable modern house with bunk-beds, bathrooms, hot showers, and a kitchen. In the field, you will be staying in tents in forested campgrounds, one of them adjacent to a crystal-clear freshwater stream with a large swimming hole. The campsites include showers, composting toilets, and cooking facilities. You will help prepare hearty camp fare from fresh local ingredients, including stir-fries, curries, and casseroles, topped off by luscious tropical fruits.