The data logger program has been running for several years. On this trip I install another small diver style logger.

Darren Brooks - December 2019

CI red crab thumb   Expedition images courtesy of Brett Wiltshire, Danny Wilkinson and Weidi Koh are here


The WASG Christmas Island Expedition 2018, supported by Curtin University and the Ecological Society of Western Australia, aimed to conduct an extensive stygofauna survey of Christmas Island’s subterranean ecosystems through the power of environmental DNA metabarcoding – a new genetic detection technology. Unlike many traditional surveying techniques, eDNA metabarcoding does not require direct contact with organisms and is therefore an ideal alternative method for locating elusive taxa and monitoring biodiversity in difficult-to-survey locations. As such, there is increasing interest in the use of eDNA metabarcoding as a complementary surveying tool in subterranean environments, such as cave systems. Christmas Island is one of Australia’s external territories located in the Indian Ocean and boasts extensive subterranean and submarine ecosystems that are understudied (Humphreys 2014), making it an ideal location to test the utility of eDNA metabarcoding for surveying stygofauna.

In assistance to Katrina West, a Curtin PhD student whose research focuses on the development of this technology, water and sediment samples were collected from 23 sites, including within caves and surface springs, across Christmas Island. These samples were then transported back to Curtin University, Perth to undergo further laboratory processing and determine, through the DNA present in the samples, what types of stygofauna inhabit these subterranean ecosystems. In addition, water parameters such as pH, temperature, conductivity, salinity, air saturation and dissolved oxygen were also measured on site, to determine if the community composition of stygofauna at various sites corresponds to these measures. The project aims to further develop and give prominence to the use of eDNA metabarcoding for subterranean surveying.


Trip Images are HERE

Conference images are HERE


Some call them crazy, some call them intrepid, we simply call them the cavers on the pre-UIS Conference trip to Magaret River.

Thanks to Tim for the preconference images at Margaret River and Marcos for some at the conference.

 011Setting time small Project images are HERE


In 2006, there was a break-in at Crystal Cave (the show cave in Yanchep National Park) and a number of the speleothems were broken or removed. Norm Poulter of SRGWA carefully mapped where the various broken parts were found before they were gathered up.

Acting on information received, the police retrieved the stolen stals and charged the culprit. Two years or more of legal wrangling followed, in the course of which the caving clubs were asked to place a monetary value on the damaged formations. Despite the impossible nature of this request, we did our best to provide appropriate information.

Eventually, the vandal  received a 200-hour community work order – a disappointing result from a caver’s perspective.

Only then were the cavers free to attempt some rectification of the damage. Norm Poulter organised the first part of the job, and Ian Collette of WASG took over the work when Norm moved to Tasmania.