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One week field course in Mount Burr Swamp Habitation Restoration Reserve, Australia.

  • Overview
  • Skills you gain
  • Whats Included
  • Costs to Consider

The Australian field ecology and data analysis course will be based at Mount Burr Swamp a wetland site being restored by the Nature Glenelg Trust about half an hour north of Mount Gambier in South Australia. The water levels have been largely restored in the main swamp since 2016, in the first of many steps being taken to protect and enhance habitat for six nationally threatened species – view the brochure here

During the course, students will be camping in individual tents to ensure that the group are socially distanced.

The course consists of three main parts:

1. Learning ecology survey techniques

half of the time will be spent in the field working with experienced field naturalists learning the following techniques:

  • Quadrat surveys for analysing vegetation community structure
  • Sweep net, pitfall, flight intercept and light traps for invertebrates
  • Transect searches, pitfall trap lines and cover board surveys for reptile, amphibian and small mammal surveys
  • Sound and spotlight surveys for amphibians
  • Area surveys, quadrat surveys, soundscape analysis for birds
  • Small mammal trapping and distance sampling for mammals
  • Sound analysis and harp trapping for bats

2. Learning how to analyse in R and write up a large data set as a scientific paper for publication

– the other half of the time will be spent working on their laptops with online tuition from a group of specialist scientists.

Students will work together in small groups (2 -3 students) on one of the following data sets: reef fish communities, coral reef structure, cloud forest bird communities, spider monkey behaviour or large mammal distribution in a South African reserve. Over the week the objective will be for the group to write up a paper answering a research question they have devised based on the data sets. Each day there will be tasks the students need to complete:

  • Day 1 – Learning how the selected data set were gathered, developing a research question that can be asked and writing an introduction to the paper
  • Day 2 & 3 – Learning how to code in R (the open source data analysis package) and graphing some of the data needed to analyse the research question
  • Day 4 – Learning how to use basis statistical tests in R to analyse the data
  • Day 5 – Learning how to write up the discussion, conclusions and bibliography of the proposed paper.

Each group will present their final paper by the end of the course

3. Learning about how to develop a career in conservation biology or wildlife film making

In the evenings there will be presentations from different academics, professional field ecologists or wildlife film makers explaining how they developed their careers.


Working with NGT Education:

  •  Students over 16 years of age may be able to use the course for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh residential requirements.
  • Attend lectures/workshops on biodiversity and conservation
  • Explore unique flora and fauna
  • Learn many different survey methods for invetebrates, herpetofauna, mammals, birds and bats
  • Learning how to analyse in R and write up a large data set as a scientific paper for publication
  • Learning about how to develop a career in conservation biology or wildlife film making

Travel & Schedule

The course attendees will meet at 11am on the Sunday start date in Adelaide airport, for an 11.30am departure, and be transferred by coach to the site (approx. 5.5hrs). Upon arrival there will be an introduction to the camp hosts, site orientation and a health and safety briefing; including bathroom and workplace facilities in the shearing shed and an emphasis on how to maintain social distancing.  The students will be busy throughout the day and by the Friday night should have participated in surveys using the identified techniques and written up a science paper in a small group.  The groups will be transferred to Adelaide airport on the Saturday morning and return flights can be booked from 2pm. Students over 16 years of age can travel independently.

  • The transfers at the start and finish of the course, to and from Adelaide airport to the site are charged at $100 per person.
  • School groups under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a teacher or parent (this is optional for students over 16 years old) and there is a free place provided on the course (including accommodation and food) for the chaperone for each group of 8 students. Students over 16 years of age can travel independently.

Want to get involved with this project?


Want to get involved with this project?

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