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Mallee - Gluepot, SA (DUW)

A few weeks ago I was up at Gluepot reserve helping some mates with their honours projects on lizards. Gluepot is owned by Birds Australia who manage the property for it's unique bird fauna - with endangered mallee fowl and black eared miners mostly in mind, however it's also a great sanctuary for other wildlife and has a great abundance and diversity of bats and reptiles as well. The property is burnt to manage the regrowth for birds however it also plays a crucial role in the reptile and mammal composition with animals like the desert skinks and mallee dragons more common in unburnt dunes (as they rely on spinifex) and things like Nobbi dragons in the unburnt swales (rely on debri and litter).

Pics aren't great, new camera and I'm still learning it.

Unburnt swale

Recently burnt dune

Waiting for the fairy across the Murray in Waikerie I saw my first Apostlebird, Struthidea cinerea.

and a Western Corella, Cacatua pastinator.

Dave is researching the Desert Skink, Egernia inornata - he's looking at dispersal/ home range, habitat preference and behaviour. He's a member of this site so he might come on and give more details.
The subject...

We had a few pitfall lines to help catch the target animals so we also got to see plenty of other herps.
Juvie sand goanna, V. gouldii

Beaded gecko, L. damaeus

A spinifex specialist, Ctenotus atlas

Some of the desert skinks were fitted with radio trackers to follow their movements while we were there, when their time was up we dug up the skinks to remove the trackers and release them. Unfortunately for one skink it ended up inside this Ringed Brown, Pseudonaja modesta

While on the trip we also encountered some of the crazy looking inverts the semi-arid zone has to offer including this predatory katydid.

Piedish beetle

And plenty of yellow sand scorpians about

We had some scorchers while we we there getting well into the 40's and as a result the usually shy woodswallows were sticking around our accomodation for the bird baths. Mixed flock of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows

We also had this decent sized individual cruising around every few days.

Upon hearing there had been a king brown about before we arrived we took to pulling apart a rubbish pile near the buildings, only to reveal a pair of stumpies, T. rugosa

Back to the pitfall trapping, a first for me was this Lerista aericeps

And the mallee wouldn't be the mallee without a few Mallee Ningauis

Broad Banded Swimmer, E. richardsonii

Baby Nobbi Dragon, A. nobbi

And for the birdos again, a possible Black Eared Miner, M. melanotis - still could be a hybrid but haven't got it confirmed yet.

There was a drying up dam nearby where we found this little burrowing frog, N. sudelli

One of my favourites, Australian Coral Snake, B. australis

Plenty of these guys, C. shomburgkii

There were also areas that had a few blue bushes, we did a fair bit of work at this site as it was good for painted dragons. Jose, the other guy doing research, was looking at thermoregulation behaviour of Painted Dragons and Mallee Dragons, these are very closely related species so he was looking at whether the drastic change in habitat preference (mallee dragons associate with spinifex) has much to do with temperature preference (I think that was the gist of it).
The habitat for painteds



Western Grey Roo

And lastly we also did some spotlighting in the Beelah woodlands

Tree skink, E. striolata

O. marmorata
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sweet stuff jordo, looks like a lot of cool stuff was found, have you got a new camera, or are you just getting better because some of them shot looks heaps good. I need a DSLR, but I am not that rich of a "bogan" to get one :lol:


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Excellent report, Jordo. You might have missed the King Brown but I think that you found a number of more interesting and hard to see species. The Lerista aericeps would be a nice one to see.

How common are Desert Skinks on the study site? Can you see them by walking around in the early mornings or late evenings or do you need to trap? The Ringed Brown that ate the Desert Skink was a very plain looking individual compared to some.

I am really curious about the Marbled Velvet Gecko. Have these previously been found at Gluepot? I would have thought that this might be a range extension of the species. I remember a report about someone finding one south of Broken Hill and I thought that was a new locality as well.

The little Coral looks like it had flattened its body as part of its threat display. Did it raise part of its body into a small loop? I have seen other Brachyurophis do this before ... a very low-key Bandy Bandy like response.

Your photos were beautiful and sharp.



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Thanks for the replies.
Ryan - it is a new camera, I hadn't really figured out the depth of field thing on this trip but I think I'm on top of it now so next pics should be a bit better.

David - The L. aericeps were top skinks, we only caught a few in buckets, that and due to their small size I don't think they'd be easy to find by active searching. The marbled velvets were already on the species list for Gluepot and I've also found them south of Broken Hill (next thread).

The coral snake only flattened it's neck a bit and raised it's head, I haven't even seen a full bandy bandy's display yet, let alone from a coral snake ;)

Only one of the ringed browns I've seen had a 3 or 4 rings on it but I didn't have a change to get pics, they're usually very plain. The desert skinks are quite common in the right spots with lots of spinifex, the best way to see them is to find a spot were you can see a few burrows and stick around as it's getting dark, which is when they'll start emerging to forage. Most of the time their burrows are at the base of spinifex clumps.


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good stuff jordo, i always look forward to threads like this.hope you get the opportunity to do some more.
whens your next dave(moloch05).


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Brilliant photos as usual. Hm... I might just have to get me a (more) decent macro lens - and/or lots more practice!

David: Marbled Velvets have been known to occur at several sites south of Broken Hill for some time, although this confused me as well the first time I knew of their existence at places like Gluepot and Scotia. The maps in Cogger and Wilson & Swan both show their distribution occuring further north.

Desert Skinks are "verry common absolutely everywhere" according to my colleague (who became quite disenchanted with them by the end of the trip!), although as Jordo mentioned, they tend to be common on dunes and less so in swales.

Researchers at La Trobe and Deakin have done some preliminary analyses of fire data on this species which has shown a significant spike in abundance at recently burnt compared with longer un-burnt areas. At these sites, skinks will use even the smallest Triodia under which they construct their burrows (for what purpose I'm not entirely sure as a 3x5 cm spinifex wouldn't afford them a great deal of camouflage or protection against a predator like a Sand Goanna!) Maybe it's just instinctive?

Burrows are easily distinguished as they consist of a "ramp" of excavated sand fanned out in front of a semi-circular entrance (see photo attached). Like Jordo said, watch one (or a few) at dusk from behind a shrub or coppice and you might be rewarded with an emergence followed by 1-2 hrs of surface activity.



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    Liopholis inornata, burrow_Gluepot Reserve, SA_D. De Angelis_4470.jpg
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Thanks for the info, Jordo and David. I have only seen a single Desert Skink and that was on the road just after sunset near the town of Kimba in South Australia. I will try other areas again next year and will look for burrows like that.

The Marbled Gecko info was interesting ... I guess the range maps of this (and many other species) need updating.

The katydid that you found looks like an instar of the "Giant Enemy Katydid" that Stewart included in his post from Shark Bay, WA. It is quite an incredible looking insect.




Awesome array of shots there! Lots of interesting species spotted, well done and thanks for sharing :D


Not so new Member
The Katydid from Shark Bay is indeed the same species (Chlorobalius leucoviridis). That one was a male and Jordo's pic is a female.

Jordo knows a lot more about the creepy crawlies we found on the trip... I'm hoping he can provide me with IDs for some of the others too!


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Thanks, David. I just looked it up on the net and now find it to be even more interesting.

The following was from Wikipedia:

"The listroscelidine katydid Chlorobalius leucoviridis of inland Australia is capable of attracting male cicadas of the Tribe Cicadettini by imitating the species-specific reply clicks of sexually receptive female cicadas. This example of acoustic aggressive mimicry is similar to the Photuris firefly case in that the predator’s mimicry is remarkably versatile – playback experiments show that C. leucoviridis is able to attract males of many cicada species, including Cicadettine cicadas from other continents, even though cicada mating signals are species-specific. The evolution of versatile mimicry in C. leucoviridis may have been facilitated by constraints on song evolution in duetting communication systems in which reply signals are recognizable only by their precise timing in relation to the male song (<< 100 ms reply latency)."

Jordo, are you also an entomologist or is this a hobby?



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That's interesting you've only seen 1 desert skink moloch (effort to try not confuse the Dave's), they're often one of the most commonly caught reptiles when we're out trapping in the mallee, but I guess they're very cryptic as well.

Don't really know much about inverts but I'm working in the live exhibits department at Melb Museum so I'm picking up on a few things. Starting to pin a few insects again too.
Very interesting about the katydid mimicry, I'd be interested in how many species have capabilities like that as they don't seem to be the best hunters, particularly species like the fan winged katydid which are flightless. We did observe the male we caught eating a caterpillar on it's shrub, so maybe they go for easy prey a lot of the time as well.

cheesecake - I always thought they went for triodia for the root structure to support the burrows making the size irrelevant, as pressumably even the small ones have extensive roots for moisture.
I'll get a list of what I can find out about the inverts for you too.


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cheesecake - I always thought they went for triodia for the root structure to support the burrows making the size irrelevant, as pressumably even the small ones have extensive roots for moisture.

That's one hypothesis for sure. It could be that the root structure helps to maintain the structural integrity of the initial stages of the burrow, or at least around the entrance.

Another idea is that the root structure creates a microclimate that's more humid that that of the surrounding substrate.

Both these options have merit. However, we also recorded a few burrows away from Triodia at the base of woody debris and in the banked up sand at the sides of tracks, so maybe the structure/provision of stabilised substrate is the more important resource.
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