Image: The Broad-Toothed Rat, Mastacomys fuscus, Photo by David Paul.
Curation notes by: Stella Shipway, Field Ecologist & Masters of Zoology Graduate, Dr Kevin Rowe, Senior Curator of Mammals Museums Victoria and Lucinda Horrocks, Wind & Sky Productions.Contributors
This material has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0).Copyright
Copyright in image with Museums Victoria and text with the authors Stella Shipway, Kevin Rowe and Lucinda Horrocks.
How do you study whether climate change is impacting native Australian animals like the Broad-toothed rat?
A group of Museums Victoria researchers, including Master’s student Stella Shipway and Senior Curator of Mammals Kevin Rowe, wanted to see what the effects of warming temperature and reduced rainfall have had on this little mammal. So they went back to locations where the Broad-toothed rat had last been found and compared their distribution today with what it had been previously.
The last significant scientific surveys of the distribution and habitat of the native rodent Mastacomys fuscus, the Broad-toothed rat, in Victoria took place in the 1970s and 1980s, with some information going back to the 1930s. The survey results and the specimens underpinning it are part of the scientific Mammalogy Collection at Museums Victoria.
Scientific collections held in museums and other collecting institutions provide an important time capsule of information which help researchers understand changes over time.
This is useful for climate change research projects as scientists can go to data both in the recent and distant past where climatic conditions are known and compare the results then to the results today.
The data and scientific information researchers collect now and gather into museums and scientific collections is also stored so it too can be used to inform future research.
Curation notes by: Stella Shipway, Field Ecologist & Masters of Zoology Graduate, Dr Kevin Rowe, Senior Curator of Mammals Museums Victoria and Lucinda Horrocks, Wind & Sky Productions.