GeelongPort’s 2023 citizen science program is now underway! Earlier this month, GeelongPort #BlueCarbonArmy undertook bird and bug surveys at Avalon Coastal reserve to explore the biodiversity gains from saltmarsh restoration.
Fieldwork took place in the former Avalon saltworks (northeast of Corio Bay). This site offers a unique landscape of intertidal ponds with varying degrees of human impact: (a) some salt ponds still have tidal barriers and remain bare/degraded; (b) others have saltmarsh communities that are naturally recovering due to the collapse of tidal barriers; and the final group (c) includes saltmarsh habitats that have remained “natural” for the last 50+ years.
Participants visited the different pond types to measure bird and bug biodiversity. Following Birdlife’s protocol, birds were surveyed for 20 min by using binoculars to identify and count all the birds present in each 2 ha pond.
The expert team from Bug Blitz Trust directed the bug surveys. While some participants used sweep nets to sample the insects and spiders living within the vegetation, others collected soil cores to look for crabs and shrimps living in the wetland soils. Photos and specimens collected are currently being analysed in the lab.
To capture the changes in biodiversity across the year, two other field trips will take place in winter (end-July) and spring (end-October). Geelong community members are invited to join upcoming citizen science days by registering on the GeelongPort engage webpage closer to the date.
Paired with information on blue carbon (stored in the saltmarsh vegetation and soils), these biodiversity datasets will help scientists get a better understanding of the wide range of benefits from restoring tidal inundation and saltmarsh across Victoria.