The Stirling wetlands, between Busselton and Capel, are currently under the microscope to better understand the unique ecosystems in and around these wetlands. Known as ‘Mallokup’, meaning the place of spirits and swans, these wetlands are home to a diverse variety of waterbird species and wildlife, including the iconic black swan.
Over the past 12 months, neighbouring farmers have been working with GeoCatch Project Officer, Michelle Hughes, to help better understand the Stirling wetlands. This will assist with developing the Stirling Wetlands Water Management Plan.
The current project looks at the communities of aquatic plants and tiny bugs living in the water. Water quality and birds living in the Stirling wetlands are also monitored to help better understand the function and environmental values of these wetlands.
Aquatic ecologist Dr Robyn Paice has been working with farmer Paul Mutton and GeoCatch’s Michelle Hughes to undertake sampling in the Stirling wetlands.
“This work will improve understanding of species occurring in these wetlands and the ecological health of the wetlands. It will also provide baseline information to allow outcomes of potential changes to the management of the wetlands to be assessed,” said Robyn.
Michelle Hughes, from GeoCatch, monitors bird numbers weekly. “The Stirling wetlands are home to a variety of bugs and insects. They are good indicators of the health of the wetlands as they provide a food source for birds and fish. They are also a critical part of the food web as they recycle nutrients in the food chain,” said Michelle.
The project will continue collecting data throughout 2023. The data will be analysed and used to develop the Stirling Wetlands Water Management Plan. The Plan aims to identify water requirements for surrounding farms, whilst delivering a water regime that will protect and enhance the Stirling wetlands’ ecological values.
This project is delivered by GeoCatch, through funding from Water Corporation.