The Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust (the Trust) is a Commonwealth Environment Offset Trust with the aim of facilitating priority research and on-ground activities to promote the conservation of threatened species in the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) in Western Australia.
The GVD Landscape Conservation Initiative (LCI) is a landscape project currently being undertaken by the Trust. The aim of the LCI is to increase biodiversity in a management area (MA) by reducing the extent and intensity of wildfires by undertaking cool, small-scale, cultural burns across a landscape area of 90,000 ha.
The biodiversity of the community assemblages in the MA will be compared, over time, to a reference area (RA) where no managed burn program will be undertaken. The project is in its second year of operation. Initial fauna surveys were undertaken in Spring 2020 and Autumn 2021. The initial fauna survey program established permanent pitfall trap locations. The initial surveys combined with the current scope of work will establish the baseline data for fauna biodiversity in the MA and RA by revisiting the pitfall trap sites in Autumn and Spring 2022.
Objectives of EOI
This Expression of Interest (EOI) defines the requirements for submitting a proposal to undertake fauna monitoring in two established landscape areas.
- Conduct standardised monitoring at each site in the MA and RA to collect data on ground-dwelling mammals/reptiles. The monitoring program focus is on all biodiversity / community assemblages but should also include techniques for detecting Sandhill Dunnarts and Malleefowl (through mound activity recording) as the key threatened species in the region. The monitoring will be based on an established methodology for pitfall trapping ( see Fauna monitoring report). There are a total of 32 trapping sites (16 in the MA and 16 in the RA).
- Two field trips will be required to be conducted in Autumn and Spring 2022, these should each have a minimum of 7 trapping nights per site.
- Malleefowl activity will be recorded through surveys to existing known mounds.
- Analyse and report on the information collected under the scope of work.
For further information in relation to this EOI request, please contact Kathryn Sinclair, Trust Operations Manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org, using the subject line: Contractor - Fauna Monitoring in the Great Victoria Desert enquiry via EthicalJobs, or 0407 143 893.
Scope of quote
The Trust is seeking a quote to undertake a scope of work, aligned to the objectives of this EOI tender (Section 2) and the scope of work (Section 5).
Quotes should include itemised information on staffing costs, equipment, and travel, for each of the below areas:
- Vertebrate fauna monitoring program. Scope includes conducting the survey at existing, permanent sampling sites, surveys for the ground-dwelling vertebrate fauna, and post-survey tasks (including fauna identification, analyses, reporting, collection and management of voucher and tissue specimens as well as delivery to the WA Museum; data entry and validation). WA permits including ethics approvals for (due to the research element of this project), and vouchering of, fauna are the responsibility of the contractor.
- Post survey tasks to include:
- Maintenance of voucher specimens, and delivery to the WA Museum (at least one whole animal vouchered for each species captured, or as requested by the WA Museum). These aspects will require pre-survey liaison with the heads of collections at the WA Museum to establish appropriate protocols and standards.
- Delivery of tissue samples to the WA Museum (following discussions with the WA Museum on tissue sampling protocol and sample requirements).
- Appropriate documentation to demonstrate reliability and accuracy of fauna records
- Data entry into a nominated database and data validation.
- Malleefowl mound survey program. Scope includes monitoring existing known mounds in each of the reference and managed areas (a total of 25 mounds). The scope also requires the reporting of Malleefowl data including location, activity signs and habitat description.
- The obtaining of full ethics approval for the program
- Project planning costs associated with OHS requirements, permitting, requirements, etc.
- All mobilisation costs (including vehicle, travel to site) and field costs (i.e. accommodation, food, fuel) are the responsibility of the tenderer and should be appropriately budgeted for.
Scope of Work: baseline data collection requirements
- Baseline data are to be collected in two project areas in the GVD. For the best understanding work requirements please review the previous report (2020/2021 Fauna monitoring report). The requirements are approximately equivalent except camera trapping is not required and existing pitfall traps will be re-used.
- Opportunistic sightings of fauna, tracks and burrows should be photographed and recorded as part of the monitoring trip.
- Fauna monitoring program requires full ethics approval. This component can take several months to obtain and should be an immediate priority for the successful proponent.
- The successful proponent is required to undertake full morphometric measurements of all ground vertebrate fauna individuals captured in pit traps including snout-vent-length, body mass, sex and age of all species captured in the pitfall traps. Date, GPS location and any other relevant information should be recorded. Tissue samples should be taken for each individual for genetics, and recorded as animals are released or vouchered (as required).
- The sites for each landscape are 16 survey plots per project area (32 in total), with two lines of pitfall traps in each site.
- Each site consists of two linear 50-60 m lines of drift fence (at 30-40 cm high) bisected by 6 x 60 cm deep pits (PVC pipe at 22.5 cm diameter) spaced at 8 - 10 m intervals. Each pit has a flywire base and PVC end cap for long term shutdown. Between pits, funnel traps (six) should be randomly set to collect additional herpetofauna data. Lines of drift fence (trap lines) are spaced 100 m apart.
- Sampling effort for trapping (pitfall) should be seven nights per session.
- All vertebrate species captured must be identified with a high degree of confidence (i.e. personnel must have technical expertise in species identifications).
- All opportunistic fauna observations should be recorded (including signs, tracks, etc), including time/date, during the field survey (unstructured sampling).
- Fauna surveys will aim to include some level of vouchering (with agreement from the Western Australian Museum) and tissue sampling (for future genetic analyses which are not part of this work scope). Vouchering will be at the discretion requirements of the WAM (evidence to be provided of discussions).
- Proper fauna identifications should follow recent taxonomy of the WA Museum. Costs should include possible fee-for-service identifications from the WAM, where necessary.
- Surveys and data records are to follow the guidelines for surveying Sandhill Dunnarts in the GVD (Sandhill Dunnart monitoring guidelines).
- Survey existing known mounds in the MA and RA using the methodology from the National Malleefowl Recovery Team – Mound monitoring manual and record any evidence of activity. See Figure 1 for existing mounds in the LCI area.
Figure 1 Malleefowl mounds in the LCI areas
- Surveys and data records should align to protocols for Malleefowl surveys in the GVD
- A weather station has been established at each site. The successful proponent is expected to inspect each weather station for functionality and remove any dust or debris that has collected on the weather at each field trip. Additionally we will request the proponent to download all records stored in both station’s SD cards. A brief report on any issues related to the weather station is part of the scope.
The locations of the project areas are as follows:
Please visit interactive map to see the map of these areas. Download the shapefiles from the following links:
Partnerships with Indigenous Australians and Rangers
The Trust is keen to work with Indigenous Australians and ranger teams to assist with the collection of the data in the field. The Trust strongly encourages partnerships with the Spinifex people and the Upurli Upurli Nguratja claimants as knowledge holders for the country the LCI sits within.
The successful proponent is expected to provide provisional timeframes for the field trips as soon as possible, upon being awarded the contract. These dates will be discussed with Rangers and Native title claimants to facilitate participation if possible.
The Trust will be responsible for the engagement and communication with the Ranger coordinator/s and Native Title claimants to enable this partnership to develop and work effectively. Separate costs for Ranger time, should these be required, will be negotiated separately to this EOI. The successful proponent will need to demonstrate willingness and flexibility to demonstrate pitfall trapping and camera trapping methodologies to Indigenous Australians, should they be available and interested to participate in fauna monitoring.
Reducing the spread of weeds
Proposals should include a hygiene procedure that explains how risks of unintentional spread of weeds and seeds such as buffel grass will be managed by the field teams to reduce the likelihood of weed spread.
Selection of the field survey team personnel
Field personnel are expected to be technical experts in their field and have confidence in remote area work, and with mammal and reptile surveys, identifications and associated tasks (vouchering, tissue collection, etc).
All fauna survey team members should have an understanding of:
- Relevant legislation (including environmental, animal ethics and workplace health and safety)
- Animal ethics requirements, particularly familiarity with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (NHMRC, 2013)
- Be experienced in handling terrestrial mammal, and reptile fauna, and be confident to remove animals from traps, and handle animals to gain basic measurements
- Be experienced and competent to identify terrestrial mammal, reptile fauna, and able to use up to date field guides and current taxonomic identifications.
- Understand vouchering requirements and be able to identify which animals are to be released, and which animals are to be vouchered
- Be competent in taking tissue samples from live animals
- Be experienced and able to euthanise animals and preparing whole animal vouchers
- Be familiar with the uses, dangers and first aid treatment for chemicals used for whole animal specimen collection, storage and transport
- Have experience and understand the importance of record keeping and data management
Most fauna surveys will likely have a requirement for camping for extended periods of time. It is therefore essential to understand remote environments and the risks involved in undertaking surveys in these environments. At least two field survey team members need to have current first aid qualifications. It is recommended all survey team members have skills and experience in operating a 4WD in off road situations.
Timing for planning, mobilisation, field work, and report writing is up to the contractor to stipulate in the tender.
Final reports should be provided to the Trust no more than 10 weeks following the field work. This may depend on confirmation of identification for some species, in particular reptiles. The due date shall be agreed following discussion with the Trust Company Representative.
Required format of reports and other outputs
Reports shall include suitable analyses, as required. Reports will be quality-checked and produced to a professional business level, so that they can be easily understood by all parties without requiring in-depth knowledge of the project or subject matter. Reports will be publicly disseminated by the Trust.
Data shall be provided to the Trust in electronic format, and aligned to the Trust data provision standards requirements.
One draft, and one final, report for the Trust that collates, and reports on (including analyses as required) the information collected.
Time should be allowed for one presentation to Trust representatives, should this be requested.