Faculty of SITE Northern Territory University Flora & Fauna Survey Techniques
what is flora and fauna survey?
example 1
example 2
example 3
compare ideas
biological diversity
why survey?
factors to consider
preparing to sample
flora survey techniques
fauna survey techniques
analysing data
presenting data

What are Flora and Fauna Surveys?

If we stroll through a nature reserve and compile a list of the birds or flowers that we see along the way, then we are, in its very simplest form, conducting a flora or fauna survey. Field naturalists Keith and Lindsay Fisher have provided a fine example of such a survey in Jasper Gorge.


Please Read

Please read
Reading A - example survey

Fisher K. & Fisher L. (1985). Some observations of Jasper Gorge, Victoria River Downs, NT. Northern Territory Naturalist 8:13-16.

With some preparation and effort, however, we can do and achieve so much more than this simple listing. For example, we might choose to

  • make a special effort to find species or groups of species that aren't so easy to detect
  • obtain information on the abundance of the species
  • obtain information on the habitat preferences of the species
  • ensure systematic coverage of an area and/or its habitats
  • obtain the information about biodiversity at levels other than species (see What is biological diversity?)

We may also choose to survey

  • a single species - for example the Carpentarian Grasswren
  • a relatively small set of species - for example trappable small mammals
  • a large cross-section of the flora and/or fauna - for example, all vertebrates and/or all vascular plants.


Please Read

Please read
Reading B - example survey

McKean J.L. & Martin K.C. (1989). Distribtuion and status of the Carpentaria Grasswren Amytornis dorotheae. Northern Territory Naturalist 11: 12-19.

Reading C - example survey

Bowman M.J.S. & McDonough L. (1990). Wet season occupation of Workshop Jungel by small mammals. Northern Territory Naturalist 12: 20-23.

We often call surveys of a range of species biological or biodiversity surveys. The following examples of detailed biological surveys are available in theCharles Darwin University Library's short-term loan collection. You should refer to one of these as an example of a fundamental biodiversity survey.


Griffiths A. D., Materne C. M. & Sherwell D. J. (1997). Biological Survey of the Proposed Limmen Gate National Park. Darwin, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Technical Report No. 61.

Griffiths A. D., Woinarski J. C. Z., Armstrong M. D., Dunlop C. R., Cowie I. D. & Horner P. G. (1997). Biological Survey of Litchfield National Park. Darwin, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Technical Report No. 62.

Griffiths A. D. (1997). Biological Survey of Elsey National Park. Darwin, Parks and Wildlife Commission NT, Technical Report No. 63.

There are some good web site examples too

After completing this unit, you will be able to design, plan and cost surveys similar to these!

Survey results can then form the foundation of more complex natural management startegies such as reserve design, threatened species conservation plans and fire monitoring programs. Following are some examples of the applications of biodiversity survey results.


(1) Reserve design in Northern Territory
(2) Endangered species: the Gouldian Finch
(3) Fire monitoring in Northern Australia

As you explore these examples try to answer the following questions in your e-journal.


What are the objectives of these surveys?
What types of surveys are there?
Who uses flora and fauna surveys?

Compare your ideas about surveys with ours.

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