Museums Victoria has been conducting two separate research projects recently in the Otways.
Following the Wye River fires of Christmas 2015, it has been investigating the effects of fire, particularly on stream fauna, such as caddis flies. When streams in burnt and unburnt areas were compared, no difference was found in their stream fauna.
The second project was an intensive study of the moths of the Otways, in an attempt to find as many as possible of the 1000 species recorded here—many by George Lyell in 1907–8. As part of these two projects, Museums Victoria held three information sessions between November 2018 and April 2019.
Green Blotched Moth
The first held at Wye River covered an introduction to the project, a presentation on invertebrate palaeontology, another on the fossils recovered from Dinosaur Cove, and a most interesting presentation on acoustic monitoring of birds. Modern technology and computing now allow placement of recorders in the bush and the species present can be separated. All sorts of comparisons can be made: for example, between burnt and unburnt sites, distance or closeness to roads or habitation, variations during a day, and anything else you can think of. Anyone with an interesting project can borrow the recording equipment and Museums Victoria will do the analysis.
The second session was a moth night at the Sheoak Picnic Area. Bright lights, both metal halide and UV, were set up shining onto three separate white sheets in different locations. There was a large variety of moths and other insects visiting the sheets over the night up until 12.30 am with various species coming in at different times. There were mayflies, damselflies, flies, bees, ants, beetles, crickets, lacewings, crane flies and spiders. A small book has been produced with over 700 moth species photographed. This is available from the Angair library.
The final session was a drop-in session at Wye River, with museum scientists available to explain their field of interest. Topics included frogs, lizards, caddis flies, fossils, birds, land snails including the carnivorous Black Otway Snail, and mammals.