A Curtin University PhD candidate is calling on the public to help fund her reptile research, using the crowdsourcing fundraising website Kickstarter to contribute towards raising more than $50,000 for the project.
Ashleigh Wolfe, PhD candidate, Department of Environment and Agriculture, is conducting a three-year doctorate looking at how urbanisation affects reptiles, specifically dugites and bobtails, and whether urban reptiles are able to adapt to changes in diet, habitat and behaviour compared to rural reptiles.
Ms Wolfe said the project uses GPS tracking devices, which while essential, are also very expensive – costing some $800 each for bobtail lizards and $1000 for dugites – which was why she had to think of a creative way to source funding.
“Perth is a rapidly-growing city, and suburban backyards are becoming increasingly important to Perth’s wildlife, with snakes and lizards commonly found in unkempt gardens or eating spring blossoms,” Ms Wolfe said.
“Most people care about the lizards and snakes, and either let them live in the backyard or relocate them to nearby bushland. While we’d like to think relocated reptiles live a happy life in their new-found bush homes, it is possible they go straight back to a backyard where food and shelter are easy to come by.
“My research aims to provide some understanding which will help keep both people and our native wildlife safe. I believe it’s a project the general public would like to see happen and want to invest in, which is why I turned to crowdsourcing as a funding alternative.”
Professor Graeme Wright, Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Development, applauded Ms Wolfe’s innovative use of the Kickstarter website to fund the research.
“Sourcing funding is always a hurdle in new research and development, so it’s great to see our students finding innovative ways to get their research off the ground,” Professor Wright said.
“Ms Wolfe’s project is one that touches the heart and home of many West Australians, so we’re hoping the public will get on-board and invest in what will be really valuable research.”
Kickstarter is a crowdsourced funding website that allows anyone with access to the internet to contribute funds towards exciting and innovative projects, and in return sponsors get to see the project come to life, as well as receiving some unique backer rewards as a thank you.
The general public can sponsor a bobtail for $400 and a dugite for $500, or select the amount, and will receive a reward bundle including the opportunity to name a reptile, a certificate of sponsorship, and a report complete with a map of its movements.
To find out more about Ms Wolfe’s research and to pledge a donation, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ashleighwolfe/perths-urban-reptile-ecology-tracking-reptiles-in.