Virtual Poster Presentation - 3 minute narrated video presentation AFSS Conference 2020

Ecological outreach via social media: responses to remote waterhole camera images indicate that dingoes rule (#129)

Jenny Davis 1 , Feodora Kojevnikov 2 , James Friend 2
  1. Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, NT, Australia
  2. Identifly, New York, USA

Motion sensitive cameras have revolutionised the ability to record the presence and behaviour of many vertebrate species continuously, over long periods of time, and in habitats that may previously have been difficult to survey. We used motion sensitive cameras (i.e. camera traps) to determine the importance of arid zone waterholes for terrestrial vertebrates. These sites had been previously identified as evolutionary refugia based on the presence of a relict aquatic invertebrate fauna.  However, their remoteness meant that information on their role in supporting terrestrial vertebrates was lacking. Multiple cameras were deployed at two perennial and two temporary waterholes in central Australia from 2014 to the present. The primary objective was to collect a long term (2014-2024) dataset on terrestrial vertebrate use of waterholes in relation to warming and drying climatic conditions. To communicate project activities, and to highlight the importance of the waterholes for biodiversity conservation, images were posted to Twitter.  A total of 223 tweets were posted between Oct 22, 2017 and May 3, 2020. Thirty-nine taxa were represented, comprising six native and two introduced species of mammals, 29 avian species, three reptile species and one amphibian genus. Only half of the avian species recorded (60) at the waterholes were posted due to a lack of high quality images (predominantly fast moving or small-bodied species). Dingoes were the most tweeted, most liked and most re-tweeted of the waterhole fauna. We concluded that dingoes were common, photogenic and well-liked (at least by this Twitter community).