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A quenda, Western Australia © Simon Cherriman

A quenda, Western Australia © Simon Cherriman

Calling Perth’s citizen scientists: the Spring Quenda Count has begun!

12 Oct 2015

Keywords
  • climate change
  • quendas
  • western australia

Perth’s citizen scientists are being rallied to shed light on an elusive but popular backyard critter, which is surviving against the odds in the city’s rapidly growing suburban fringe.
 
The Spring Quenda Count is once again underway across the Perth and Peel metropolitan region and residents are being asked to count quendas and look for quenda activity – such as the tell-tale conical diggings they leave behind, for at least two days, over a week.  
 
“Quendas are native mammals about the size of a rabbit with brown to yellow-brown fur, a long pointed nose, very short ears and a short tail. They prefer to live near wetlands where dense low vegetation persists,” said WA Parks and Wildlife Swan Regional Ecologist Dr Geoff Barrett.
 
“They are often seen running around lawns and digging in compost piles across Perth’s suburban fringe although urbanisation, predation by dogs and cats, and vehicle strikes have seen numbers decline in other parts of the city.”
 
2015 is the third year in a row that the Department of Parks and Wildlife and WWF-Australia have run this popular citizen science event. The last two years have received a positive response, with 157 sites surveyed by 147 citizen scientists in 2013, and 139 sites surveyed by 140 observers in 2014. 
 
“Quendas are very popular among those who encounter them in their backyards and local bushland. Some people even consider them part of the family, once they realize that the native marsupial is not in fact a feral rat,” said WWF’s Species Program Officer Rebecca Boyland.  
 
“The Quenda Count is a lot of fun for backyard scientists but it also gives us an idea of how many animals there are and how these numbers are changing over time, while also providing a better understanding of feeding behaviours, breeding patterns and threats.” 
 
Quendas are a subspecies of  the southern brown bandicoot and they play an important role in the health of Perth’s bushland by turning soil as they dig, aiding water penetration, dispersing beneficial fungi and reducing fire loads. 
 
The species has all but disappeared from other Australian cities yet can still be seen throughout the Perth metropolitan area, especially in areas that have retained local bushland.  
 
To participate, citizen scientists are asked to pick an area approximately 50mx50m and survey the site for quendas, as well as their tell-tale conical shaped diggings, for two or more days over one week.
 
Residents then record details on their data sheet including the location of their chosen survey site, their survey dates, how long they spent looking for quendas each day, and how many quendas they saw during that time.
 
The Spring Quenda Count is a joint initiative by WA Department of Parks and Wildlife and WWF-Australia, and will continue until the end of November. To participate in the Count, email quenda@wwf.org.au 

WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager

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