Project activities include a citizen science survey to provide new insights into the reptile’s behaviour and physiology and rubbish collection to improve vital habitat for Water Dragons.
Citizen Science Surveys
We have observed that Water Dragons generally bask in the sun where there are gaps in the canopy along, or at the edge of a walking track. When people approach, dragons often react by escaping to a more sheltered and shady position (retreat site) away from their basking site.
We hypothesise that these retreat sites will be cooler and shadier than the dragons’ original basking sites which we believed may in turn have an impact on their metabolic rate as Eastern Water Dragons are ectothermic (they rely on basking to raise their body temperature).
To test this hypothesis, we collect a range of data:
- The ground temperature of basking and retreat sites using an infrared thermometer.
- The percentage of canopy cover between basking and retreating sites using a densiometer.
- The age and sex of each dragon and the distance between its retreat site and original basking sites.
Rubbish collection work to improve habitat quality forms a vital part of our Dragons of Sydney project. This benefits not only the area’s Eastern Water Dragons but other native wildlife as well.
I enjoyed watching how engaged our students were with both parts of the day…the pace of the day was very cruisey and relaxed and the event facilitators were friendly, interested and enthusiastic. They were very supportive of the girls efforts and contributions.
-Sarah Jones, Teacher from Queenwood School for Girls