In 2016, a grant made available to Dr W.F. (Bill) Humphreys of the W.A. Museum allowed him to organise an expedition to Cape Range to expand an already long running project looking at the genetic data of the cave invertebrates.
Up until 2016 the small amount of funds available only allowed him to focus on one main group, the blind millipedes of the genus Stygiochiropus. These millipedes have revealed an interesting distribution of genes into provinces whereby populations are isolated or semi-isolated from each other by natural barriers such as gorges. On this trip the aim was to collect specimens from other families of troglobites (animals obliged to dwell within the cave environment) such as Schizomida (micro-whip scorpions), pseudoscorpions (not particularly closely related to real scorpions, although they bear a distinct similarity), cave spiders, isopods (commonly known as woodlice) and etc. The trip was very successful with many specimens collected from a variety of caves ranging from shallow pits a few metres deep to caves over 50 m deep and many hundreds of metres in horizontal extent. It may take several years for the data from the specimens to be processed and to reveal its many secrets, such as degree and time of divergence from other populations, and in fact whether the divergence actually mimics that of the millipedes.
The participants were Dr Humphreys, his assistant Julianne Waldock, both from the W.A. Museum and WASG members Luana Dwyer, Fran Head, Ian Collette, Brett Wiltshire and Darren Brooks.
Darren made the following video of the expedition - well worth viewing ...
The 2017 WASG Kimberley expedition took place in July when the intrepid participants, Brett Wiltshire, Danny Wilkinson, Andrew Thomas and Bert De Waele, all from Perth, and Barry Cullen and Darren Brooks, both from Exmouth and, from Mole Creek Caving Club in Tasmania, Jessica Bertels, headed north to discover and explore as many caves as they possibly could in the two weeks of the trip. Not to be left out, a trip was made to the iconic Tunnel Creek where the crew enjoyed the delights of KO-1, The Tunnel. The team mapped eleven smallish caves during the trip and explored a great deal of the area hoping to find a large cave system. As is usual with these trips the best find was on the second last day when we discovered a nice shaft of 20 m depth but without time to explore it. The final day was taken up with last minute surveying by a couple of teams and the remainder decided to explore the large and pretty Ballgown/Firemans Pole system
Danny Wilkinson created the video below on the trip back. It shows some of the beauty and ruggedness (also good piloting/photographic skills)
The Biology section of the web site is finally up. Many, many thanks to Fran Head for gathering and writing it. Also thanks to the huge list of people who contributed photo's. The material in the section was used as a presentation at the Wildlife Show at the Perth Town Hall in 2016.
It's under Specialties > Biology in the menu (or just click HERE)
If you have any corrections or additions you want to make please let us know!!
In January of 2016 nine members of WASG and SRGWA visited the Mole Creek area of Tasmania thanks to a generous invitation extended by Dave Wools-Cobb of the Mole Creek Caving Club. Our intrepid adventurers, braving the cold and wet world of Tasmanian caves were Andrew Thomas, Aimee Leong, Gregoriy Tsaplin, Brett Wiltshire, Luana Dwyer, Danny Wilkinson, Weidi Koh, Asha Lane and Jane Wong.
Read more: Tasmania 2016
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Western Australian Speleological Group