28 August 2020
Wildlife Queensland has launched a new Queensland Glider Network project aimed at understanding and documenting the distribution of yellow-bellied gliders in South East Queensland. The project will also document the distribution and occurrence of greater gliders in the region.
Both glider species are threatened with extinction in Australia.
Whilst the project aims to increase conservation awareness for the two threatened species with councils, private landholders, and the general public, the focus will be on yellow-bellied gliders, says Queensland Glider Network Project Officer Sam Horton.
The yellow-bellied glider isn’t well known to the general public and there is a lack of distribution and population information about this elusive species, says Horton.
The elusive glider
The yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis), also known as the fluffy glider in Far North Queensland, is the second-largest gliding marsupial (or glider) in Australia and occurs down the east coast of the country.
The species is under increasing threat from land clearing which has resulted in loss of habitat and loss of habitat connectivity with other yellow-bellied glider populations. Its conservation status was upgraded in 2016 from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Near Threatened’ in the 2016 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to a recorded population decrease of 30 per cent over three generations.
“Yellow-bellied gliders are nationally recognised as a threatened species and their numbers are declining because they are very suspectable to human disturbance,” says Horton.
“These gliders are highly cryptic and elusive in the South East Queensland region which means they might be slowly disappearing from the Brisbane bushland without anyone noticing.
“It is this lack of information that creates the core foundations of the Yellow-bellied Glider Project. Our aims are to start understanding where these gliders are living in South East Queensland and to protect these fragile locations.”
The Yellow-bellied Glider Project will utilise non-invasive surveying techniques, including GIS predictive mapping, acoustic monitoring and observation surveys to actively search for, record and monitor yellow-bellied glider populations.
Initial survey locations will be in the Logan and Ipswich regions where small numbers of yellow-bellied gliders have been observed. The project will later branch out to cover all of South East Queensland.
Queensland Glider Network project officers will be seeking volunteers to assist in conducting nocturnal surveys in the coming months. Volunteer opportunities and planned workshops will be advertised on the project’s social media platforms.
Education and awareness
“A large portion of the yellow-bellied glider’s preferred habitat of mature hollow-bearing eucalyptus forest is located on private property and we are wanting to engage with the local community so we can survey their private bushland,” says Horton.
“In some circumstances, many Queenslanders wouldn’t be aware that they may have vulnerable species inhabiting their backyard. Our project plays the important role of creating awareness of these energetic gliders in the community and provides an opportunity for community members to become a vital part of conserving this declining glider population.”
The yellow-bellied glider lives in family groups and is the most vocal of all gliders. You are more than likely going to hear them before you see them, says Sam Horton.
“These fluffy gliders communicate via a piercing shriek that sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.”
This extremely accomplished glider species also makes distinctive chevron-shaped marks on certain eucalypt trees that they tap for sap with their lower incisors.
Wildlife Queensland is proud to be supporting this search for yellow-bellied gliders in the state’s south-east, says the organisation’s Projects Manager, Matt Cecil.
“It is another example of the essential role the local community needs to play in the conservation of Queensland’s at-risk native wildlife.
“This project will, beyond simply highlighting yellow-bellied glider populations, highlight the necessity of conserving native bushland no matter how big or small, to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem function.”
- Connect: Follow the @yellowbelliedgliderproject Instagram page and the @QueenslandGliderNetwork Facebook page for the latest project information and updates.
- Volunteer: The Yellow-bellied Glider Project will be commencing a volunteer program in early 2021. Express your interest in being involved in this project by emailing the Queensland Glider Network at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate: Interested community members can also contribute financial support to this and other vital glider projects through Wildlife Queensland’s Adopt-A-Glider program.