Blog

Streamwatch Climate Change Event

By: Greg McDonald, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 23 Jul 2014

The Streamwatch team are supporting our volunteers with a series of events throughout the year across Sydney.

Mosquito

Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

We recently held an event at the Coastal Environment Centre, Narrabeen on the 19th of July. The theme for the day was one of climate change and environmental change and lively presentations were provided by four high calibre guest speakers.

Dr. Cameron Webb, Principal Hospital Scientist and Clinical Lecturer, provided an in depth look at a very under-rated killer, the mosquito. This ubiquitous insect is responsible for the deaths of one million people a year and the debilitation of many more, by vectoring a range of diseases.

We learnt that there are hundreds of species of mosquito in Australia with one for just about any aquatic habitat your care to name, from saline saltmarshes to freshwater puddles. It was a great surprise to be told that diseases like Ross River fever require a macropod host if the mosquito is to be successful in infecting humans.

Dr Webb went on to describe strategies for rehabilitating wetlands to reduce mosquito numbers and key design attributes of constructed wetlands to discourage mosquito populations from becoming established.

Dr. Ian Wright, academic course advisor, lecturer and researcher painted a very disturbing picture for us, on the plight of our pristine streams under the encroachment of urban development.

Dr Wright explained how hard surface run off and concrete are proving too much for our sensitive freshwater fauna and this is after all the new development works have delivered tons of unwanted sediment to the creek. We are witnessing the acidification of our oceans as a consequence of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels but paradoxically and in stark contrast, our naturally acidic Sydney streams are gradually having their pH forced ever higher, primarily as a result of concrete leachate.

This ionic contamination of our streams by calcium carbonate, appears to be antagonistic to our sensitive native fauna and conversely supportive of the successful invasion by feral snails. This contamination of the water column coincides with a nutrient enrichment of the surrounding riparian soils, facilitating the establishment of weed species.

Katie Shields and Carl Tippler added further macroinvertebrate relevent research findings to the day’s very informative suite of presentations.

Keep and eye out for our next event Waterbug Watch.

WaterBug Watch is a citizen science project developed by the Australia Museums Streamwatch team to discover what freshwater invertebrates live in your area. The project aims to apprentice students and the community into scientific techniques and research.

This project will help us find out more about the diversity of freshwater invertebrates in your area. We want to discover:

  • how many different kinds of freshwater invertebrates are found in your local waterways? 
  • what are the most common freshwater invertebrates?

The project involves sampling your local freshwater creek or waterway between Saturday 6 - Sunday 21 September 2014. 

See the Waterbug Watch page for more information