Ecological consultant

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This document is a report by an ecological consultant on a survey about the population of lizards and frogs in Jock Marshall Reserve that Monash University requested. The introduction, methods, findings, and analysis sections make up the paper's four main sections. The goal of the introduction is to provide background information about JMR and explain why the poll is being conducted. The methodology is to describe the method used to carry out the survey. It provides answers to where and how the poll was conducted queries. In essence, the results section is a tally of the outcomes of the latter procedure. Finally, the analysis discusses the whole survey in totality exploring the learned facts, challenges and success of the survey.


The Jock Marshall Reserve was established in 1961 by AJ Marshall in an aim to offer teaching and research for environmental studies. It is located about 20km south east of Melbourne, Australia. The reserve is grassy woodland characterised by grasses and sparse shrubs. The land has alluvial and swamp deposit soils with moderate fertility on gentle slopes or undulating hills on a range of geologies. The reserve has four main zone tasked with conservation, research, teaching and development.

In the recent past state legislation has listed over 80 species of herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) that are facing extinction. Frogs and lizards which are a major representation of this two classification are thus very pivotal. They are instrumental for a number of reasons, it is therefore paramount to implement measure and mechanism to highlight the presence of these animals and prevent them from extinction. The role of these animals tot the ecosystem cannot be over emphasised. Firsts they act as predator and prey in the trophic food web, at the further end of the carbon: nitrogen isotope ratio. Secondly, they are vital to the life cycles of other animals in the environment among many other benefits.


Background Data Search.

Some previous annual surveys conducted at the reserve were examined to establish principal findings. We also relied on documentation of journals, books and magazine concerned with the reserve. Practise notes also formed part of the basses. This method was the primary method of survey; however, it was complimented by other methods.

Lizard and frog search.

Site selection.

Site selection was designed around time limitations, prevailing weather conditions, seasonality, habitat type and reported sightings. Two habitat types were selected. Transect 1 was located where the vast majority of reptile sightings had been reported. The habitat is of a cleared rural landscape nature and is 250 m long. It is covered by a variety of substrates; grass, rock walls, leaf litter, and concrete roads and pavements.

Transect 2 was on the edges of lakes, swamps and ponds. This aquatic location was surrounded by gardens that provide suitable substrate for amphibians. Frogs are also heard calling in these locations, and turtles had been witnessed on several occasions at these site.

Collection of samples.

Surveys of great crested newt were undertaken nearby ponds for frogs and at preselected blocks where lizard activities were spotted. This involved using the most appropriate of the following methods:

Egg searching. Vegetation around dark and moist areas was searched for great frog eggs. The presence of eggs is identified by the characteristic folding of leaves to enclose egg, and this method is a very useful way to confirm the presence of the species, but cannot be used to estimate population size.

A quadrat is a known square area that is marked using a pre-made square of plastic, or stakes

and string. Quadrats can range in size from 1 m to 20 m, depending on the type of habitat

surveyed. Different species and their numbers within the quadrat are counted. Counting is

repeated many times in different places throughout the habitat to get an accurate representation of biodiversity.

Bottle traps/netting. Traps were placed around the margin of the areas where possible, spaced at 2 m intervals and left overnight. The traps were emptied the following morning taking care to avoid leaving traps exposed to sunlight. Ponds were placed around the entire pond margin, unless some of the edge was inaccessible (due to dense stands of scrub or deep soft silt deposits for instance) or it was not safe to anchor traps in shallow water.

Torchlight surveys. A circuit of the pond was made after dark when frogs are easier to observe and counted using a strong torch (1 million candle power). Again efforts were made to access the whole of the pond margin unless dense shrubs and/or soft sediments made this impossible.


Field results.

We were able to capture 7 distinct Frog species in our field study they were: -

Litoria raniformis, (Southern Bell Frog)- Cleary distinctive by its green and brown colours with dark brown pumps.

litoria lesueuri (Lesueur's Frog) - pale brown with a dark stripe from the snout to shoulder.

Geocrinia victoriana (eastern smooth frog)- identical for its small stature and dark colour.

Others included.

Limnodynastes tasmaniensis (spotted grass frog)

Limnodynastes peronii (striped marsh frog)

Litoria ewingii (brown tree frog)

For the lizards we captured 5 species.

-Lissolepis coventryi. (Eastern mourning skink)

Christinus marmoratus. (marbled gecko)

Others included.

Lampropholis delicata (Dark-flecked Garden Sunskink)

Anepischetosia maccoyi (Highlands Forest-skink)

Acritoscincus duperreyi (Eastern Three-lined Skink)

Analysis of study material and background data.

The following table adapted from a study of JMR community presents a listing of all the species that could be found within the community.

The above analysis seeks to establish some of the reptiles and amphibians that may be present in the Jock Marshall Reserve together with their percentage of prevalence. However, it is noteworthy that this table is not entirely conclusive.

Table showing snout to vent length variation in a select species.

Table showing the weight variation in a variety of species.

The above results and figure serve to highlight the findings of this survey in terms of presence, prevalence, SVL variation and weight variation.


From the survey it is evident that the Jock Marshall Reserve is home to various species of flogs and lizards. While six frog species were physically seen there is reason to believe that over ten other species were missed. Some of the notable species that were not seen include; the southern toadlet, the eastern banjo frog, the common spadefoot toad among others. On lizards there were also significant misses like: the blotched blue-tongue skink, Jacky lizard and the tussock skink. These notable misses could be attributable to weather condition, ineffective sampling, and short sampling durations.

The study, albeit remotely established the effects of body weight and SVL on reproduction. further studies indicate that a breeding population, continuously lost weight in the range of 0.5% of total body weight per day. It was concluded that weight loss is caused by elevated metabolism and may represents cost of reproduction, resulting in lowered growth.

On the sampling method it was notable that some sampling methods were more helpful than others in varying scenarios. Egg searching and netting were the least effective while torching and quadrant were more effective for frogs and lizard respectively. This was mainly because of behavioural patterns of the animals. Quadrant was effective in that it cornered the reptiles at their most used routes, while it was easier to track nocturnal frogs using torching.


When undertaking this kind of survey, it is paramount to first establish a clear pattern for the animals and use it to lure their animals. There is also the need for increased time to enable researchers to conduct extensive research throughout the life cycle of a species. Besides it is important for the government, institutions and individuals to take up roles in helping to conserve and protect herpetofauna facing threat of extinction.



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April 13, 2023

Science Education Life



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Animals Study Challenges

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