City of Darwin East Point Interactive Science Trail

 

 

1. Mangroves

How do mangrove plants survive underwater?

For mangroves to survive in the intertidal environment, they must be able to tolerate a wide range of conditions with variations in salinity, temperature, oxygen and moisture on a daily basis.

 

Root adaptations are just one unique feature of these plants that make it possible for mangroves to live in the soft oxygen-poor (anaerobic) sediments along the shoreline. 

All plants require oxygen for respiration to grow and survive. In times when the soil the mangrove lives in are not underwater, air diffusion between sediment grains can supply this requirement. However, in waterlogged soils, these spaces fill with water blocking access to oxygen. Each species of mangrove plant has different adaptions to allow them to live in the intertidal zone. Species such as the Rhizophora stylosa, produce a maze of arching stilt roots from the trunk and slender aerial roots from branches, to allow it to gain enough oxygen to survive even when the tide comes in.ts along the shoreline.

2. Revegetation

How many different plant species do you think grow at East Point Reserve?

Did you know that East Point Reserve used to be a golf course? Back in the 1930s the area was cleared extensively for the Darwin Golf Club. Today the City of Darwin actively revegetates the Reserve to bring back some of the diversity of plants and animals that originally existed here.

To make sure we are getting the revegetation right, the City of Darwin undertook an extensive biodiversity survey in 2013 to find out the diversity within the Reserve. From this report Council has produced a management plan to help guide its actions in conserving the monsoon rainforest. East Point Reserve has over 21 hectares of monsoon rainforest in good condition with over 200 different species of plants. This site is a refugee for native plant species that once covered most of the Darwin region. Download the plan here.

Could you tell this site was planted in 2010?

See how the process takes place….

 

Stage 1 Preparing the soil  Stage 2 Planting and watering Stage 3 Vegetation maturing

 

3. Pests

Photo by: Springvale National Park

How do you think the impact of pests can be reduced?

City of Darwin uses a range of methods to help reduce pests in East Point Reserve. Animal pests such as wild cats and dogs are monitored and trapped when they pose a risk to humans or native fauna. Lake Alexander also has a toad fence surrounding portions of the Lake to funnel and trap cane toads to minimise their numbers. Although Council staff work hard to minimise the cane toad infestation, there is still an issue of toads invading the Reserve and posing a threat to the many snakes and lizards that call this area home.

Plant pests or ‘weeds’ are actively removed using methods such as hand pulling in conjunction with spraying of herbicide. This process aligns to our East Point Reserve Biodiversity management plan and meets our requirements under the NT Governments Weeds Management Act 2001.

4. In the Dark

What other nocturnal animals do you think live in the Reserve?

Even though we might not see them during the day many fauna species are more active at night. During management of East Point Reserve the City of

 Darwin is well aware of all the animals that prefer the cover of darkness and aim to look after the Reserve in such a way that all the flora and fauna thrive. Apart from the brushtail possums Trichosurus vulpecula and agile wallabies Macrpopus agilis some of the other animals that prefer to be more active at night in the Reserve include:

Frogs: including the Marbled frog Limnodynastes convexiusculus, Striped Rocket frog Litoria nasuta, and Green Tree frog Litoria caerulea.

Mammals: such as the northern brown bandicoot Isoodon macrourus, grassland melomy Melomys burtoni, flying foxes Pteropus alecto, Gould’s Wattled Bat chalinobus gouldii, and even dingoes Canis lupus roam the rainforest at night.

Birds: many owl species such as the Tawny Frogmouth Owl Podargus strigoides, Barking Owl Ninox connivens, Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus, and Curlews Burhinus grallarius.

5. Bush Tucker

What products do you use that are made from Australian native plants?

Did you notice the native sandalwood Exocarpos latifolius along the mangrove boardwalk?

Sandalwood is nature’s perfume and is used in many products from soap, cleaning products, perfume incense. Australian Sandalwood has a fragrant dark coloured wood that is coarse-grained ideal for furniture making although due to its height is more often used for wood carving and smaller pieces like utensils. The tree was used for many purposes by Aboriginal Australians. The leaves were burned to repel insects and leaves crushed in a solution to treat sores.

Other common native plants readily used today include:

Eucalyptus oil – is probably one of the most well-known native oils and is found in many cleaning products.

Macadamia nuts – this delicious tasting nut is native to Australia and is now commonly cultivated for commercial purposes.

Lemon myrtle – has long been used as a food and medicinal plant. The leaf is often used as dried flakes, or in the form of a flavour essence. It has a range of uses, in both sweet and savoury dishes including biscuits, pasta and as a coating for chicken or fish. The oil is also popular ingredient in health care and cleaning products, especially soaps, lotions and shampoos.

Or perhaps you thought about Tea-tree oil, Rosella or Quandong jams or even pandanus leaves woven into baskets. The list is endless.

6. Atlas moth

Photo by: Dr Michael Braby

How big can the atlas moth grow?

This giant moth species is commonly found with a wing span of 17cm. the size of this moth on the sign is its actual size! How big is that compared to your hand?

City of Darwin hopes to reintroduce the Atlas moth to the East Point Reserve by 2018. The moth has not been seen in this area since Cyclone Tracy. Local populations near Dundee Beach have been successfully bred in captivity. To facilitate its reintroduction Council is planting known food and larval plant species including the Litsea glutinosa and Croton habrophyllus in areas that are believed to be preferred habitat.

Hopefully one night we will be able to see these magnificent insects around the Reserve again!

7. Homes and Habitat

What other animal homes can you find?

East Point is home to many species of wildlife. They all live within the reserve creating a vibrant ecosystem. As you walk through East Point you will find many differentanimal homes, can you find each of these; Termite mounds, Green ant nests (look in the trees!), Burrows, Spider webs, Bird nests, Tree hollows and logs.

8. Erosion

What other natural processes contribute to erosion?

Coastal erosion is caused by many factors some of the natural processes include; wind, waves, storm surge, sea level rise, gravity, biological impacts and even natural rock face instability. Coastal erosion may also result from man-induced activities. City of Darwin has an Erosion Management Plan that outlines many ways Council is trying to reduce the impact of erosion on the land and surrounding infrastructure. Many of the measures in the plan include mitigation against wind, wave, cyclone, and water intrusion erosion. To view the plan click here.

9. Migratory birds

Photo by: Dick Daniels

Where do most of the birds visiting Darwin fly to in the dry season?

Russia and northern Asia are the originating locations for many of the migratory birds found around Darwin in the wet season.

Migratory birds are those that regularly move from one area to another at predictable cycles. As winter in the Northern hemisphere starts to take a hold, migratory birds in Siberia and North Eastern China start making their way south to feed and build up fat stores as well as avoid the bitterly cold winter.

Thousands of them gather each year around Darwin including East Point. The migratory birds frequent the intertidal zones as these are prime feeding areas and highlight Northern Australia is part of the great East Asian Australasian flyway an important route for many migratory bird species.

The most abundant species at East Point Reserve are Great Knot, Greater Sand Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Lesser Sand Plover and Ruddy Turnstone.

10. Wallabies

How many wallabies do you think live at East Point reserve?

A population of over 150 wallabies call East Point Reserve home.

City of Darwin undertakes regular wallaby population surveys to monitor the health and viability of the wallaby population. These physical counts allow appropriate management techniques to be implemented within the Reserve. This includes ensuring the open grazing areas are sufficient for the population to feed adequately, as well as maintaining several artificial water points for the wallabies to drink. Wallabies can often be found in a mob grazing together. This is called a mob of wallabies similar to kangaroos.

 

 assisted with installation of these signs at East Point.