(Originally published 10 April 2020)

The Dynamic Lagoons Project launched on Saturday evening 22 February 2020, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees. This field day was the first step in our project to building knowledge and garnering public support to secure threatened Upland Wetlands on the Northern Tablelands.

Around 80 people braved the cool summer weather to enjoy a night out at Racecourse Lagoon, Uralla. Attendees were a mix of local community, government (Uralla Shire Council, OEH Save Our Species and Local Land Services) and University of New England (UNE) staff.

The afternoon started off with a welcome to country by Colin Ahoy, a local Anaiwan descendent, and an opening address made by Dr Paul McDonald (Associate Professor in Zoology at UNE). Dr Wendy Beck (Associate Professor in Archaeology at UNE) spoke about the importance of temporal wetlands in the New England to local Aboriginal people. The wetlands provided food and water in an otherwise harsh New England environment.

Kate Boyd from Uralla Shire Council shared Council’s approach to managing Upland Wetlands, including weed and feral animal management. Kate outlined the importance of interagency collaboration in the management of Upland Wetlands and Councils application of the principles of ecological restoration.

Lead investigators for the Upland Wetland project, Dr John Hunter, Dr Debbie Bower and Dr Manu Saunders then addressed everyone about biodiversity and community surveys that are taking place at Upland Wetlands including Little Llangothlin, Dangar’s and Thompson’s lagoon. Plant, invertebrate and frog surveys will indicate how lagoons can be successfully managed during both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ phases in concert with grazing and pasture management.

After we devoured every morsel of dinner provided by Michael’s café, we then set out into the lagoon with torches and insect nets in hand. Pools of water within the outcropping granite provided homes for Common eastern froglets (Crinia signifera) with community members finding several nests of marsh frogs (Limnodynastes sp.) and tadpoles in the pools. Despite the unseasonably cool night, there were quite a few insects to be found, hunkered down among the vegetation. Several fast-flying hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) were the highlight insect of the night, but we also found caterpillars of grass blue butterflies (Zizina labradus), and the day-flying grapevine moth (Phalaenoides glycinae), as well as plenty of katydids and grasshoppers.

Thank you to everyone who filled out our questionnaire. This will help us determine current community attitudes related to the ecological function of Upland Wetlands and what we can do to educate the public and preserve their important ecology. If you were unable to complete the survey on the night, you can complete it online here: https://unesurveys.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6VwbD3P1EljwnL7

We are now heading into winter and insect and frog activity are decreasing. Along with the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19 we will not be returning to the field until Spring at the earliest. We look forward to providing you with some project updates soon.

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