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Ecologist identifies lost species for book



DR Ian Abbott may be semi-retired but that has not slowed his enthusiasm for the field of ecology.

The West Leederville resident played a pivotal role in the new volume from the WA exploration series, The Finest Goldfields in the World, documenting Robert Austin’s 1854 Murchison River expedition.

Dr Abbott’s research compiled the Noongar names of animal species in the south-west of WA and was used to identify animal species observed by Austin.

During the 1854 expedition, from Avon Valley to Mt Magnet and Shark Bay, Austin recorded 36 species of native animals, which Dr Abbott identified by their Noongar names.

“The process of identifying animals was fairly easy,” Dr Abbott said. “Everything was referred to by their Noongar names, which were documented very well by early colonists and newspapers.”

Invited by the WA Exploration committee to join several years ago, Dr Abbott volunteers several hours of his time each week.

“The team gets on very well and everyone brings their own competence to the project.

“I was asked to join just as they were finishing the first volume to help identify animal and bird species,” he said.

The book uncovers many species that were thought to be extinct, including the recently rediscovered night parrot.

“Austin’s expedition runs parallel to the other volumes because it was too big to be included in the others,” Dr Abbott said.

The volume was released this year and is available online.

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