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Rainy Day Musings


Michael Tubby

We’ve had 170 mL of rain over the past 24 hours. It has dampened the mood around the base camp, but has also provided the scientists an opportunity to catch up on their desk duties. While many people think these expeditions involve traipsing through scrub and collecting anything that moves, these scientists need to consider the purpose of the specimens they collect. The herpetologist from the Queensland Museum (Dr Andrew Amey) told us that as a collections manager, his job was very similar to a librarians – he maintained a research collection of specimens that people could view and borrow from. The specimens they collect during the trip contain information that becomes useless if they are not collected properly. Details around location, capture method, collector, date and environment must all be recorded as the specimen is registered into the museum’s collection. Today’s terrible weather gave the scientists time to make sure that all their notes and records were in good order.

However it left me with a little time to think. I wonder what the consequences of this unseasonable downpour would be? There is a rhythm in the bush that all living things follow – certain things are supposed to happen at certain times of the year. When it rains like this, it’s supposed to be during the warm wet season. Many animals and plants will react to this rain by changing their behaviour (for example growing fruits or preparing to breed). We tend to think of rain as a good thing for plants and animals – everything needs water to survive. But could rain at this time of year actually damage the ecosystem?