A blue jewel of our rainforest creeks: The Lamington Crayfish

 

Introduction

The mountains of South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales have significant areas of sub-tropical rainforest. Associated with these mountains are numerous freshwater streams. After rain, these streams can become fast flowing. When these streams make their way through the rainforest, especially where there is good riparian cover to provide shade and leaf litter, you may come across a remarkable vivid blue and white crayfish.

The Lamington Crayfish (Euastacus sulcatus) is a large crayfish with adults usually around 100 – 200 mm in length.  These crayfish are slow growing, generally only moulting once a year, and have a life span between 20 and 40 years, although recent literature has postured they may live even longer1.  

They are well adapted to the fast flowing waters where the water temperature ranges from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius2. Adults tend to disappear from the stream systems during the colder winter months but reappear in spring...

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Rainforest: A climate control system

 

Rainforests have been named well, for they are associated with higher levels of rain than surrounding areas. The distribution of rainforests has been associated with geography (e.g. mountain ranges) and prevailing winds. But it's more than this.

In recent times, it has been discovered that these forests actually create their own rain. Many broad-leafed green plants expire water though transpiration, but they also have the capacity to emit aerobacter (bacteria) into the air.

Diagram One: Rainforest foliage emits aerobacter as well as water vapour through transpiration

These bacteria form nuclei for the formation of raindrops, effectively cloud seeding. Research has shown that, rainforest vegetation is an extremely efficient emitter releasing these particles high above the canopy.

Combined with the water vapour from transpiration and the creation of aerobacter, the rainforest creates its own cloud cover, sheltering it directly from prolonged periods of sunlight and even reflecting...

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The Logrunner: A character of the forest floor

 

When you spend some time in the rainforests of South East Queensland, especially at dawn or dusk you are likely to hear the calls of one of the endearing characters of the forest floor. In this video you can see a female logrunner (red chest) foraging and feeding on the forest floor. You can also hear her responding to her mate (who has a distinctive white chest) who continually calls in the background - just to let each other know where they are.

Generally quiet for most of the day, they can certainly fire up their vocals when required. They are territorial birds and will defend their territory from other potential interlopers with vigorous calls and displays. 

They spend the majority of their life on the forest floor where they feed on invertebrates in the leaf litter. They forage by vigorously scratching from side to side with their relatively large feet, using their stiff tail as a prop and securing the small worms and invertebrates exposed in the scattered leaf litter....

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Albert's Lyrebird

 

At this time of the year, we like to head up to Lamington National Park and O'Reilly's to participate in their Spring Bird Week. One of the highlights of this area is the chance to see an Albert's Lyrebird. 

The Albert's Lyrebird prefers gully areas in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forests

 The male is well known for its courtship display usually seen and heard in the autumn and winter months. The male is a superb mimic and uses its own calls as well as copying the call of other birds. It will spend hours each day during the peak winter season.  

They tend to live a solitary life and apart from the courtship display little is known about their mating system. The female looks after the young and occasionally you will see her with a juvenile. I was fortunate to come across such a pair, feeding by scratching the leaf litter and exposing insects, larvae and worms along with other invertebrates.

Since European settlement, much of their rainforest and wet sclerophyll...

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