MItchells Falls

The Kimberley

One of the most memorable fieldtrips of 2018 for the ABG was the few weeks we spent exploring the Kimberley in search of dragons. The Kimberley region is a hot spot for the genus Diporiphora, the second largest Australian dragon genus, and one of the most neglected in terms of signalling behaviour research. The main objective for the trip was to find as many different species of Diporiphora as possible and confirm their use of motion-based signals. For this, we visited several locations including Mitchell River National Park, Halls Creek, Windjana Gorge, King Leopold Ranges and Broome. Interestingly, every species of dragon that we encountered and were able to test properly turned out to be a signaller. By the end of the trip, we had managed to double the number of confirmed signalling species in the genus Diporiphora, as well as record interesting signalling behaviour from other genera (e.g. Ctenophorus nuchalis; Fig 1).

Ctenophorus nuchalis
Fig. 1 – Ctenophorus nuchalis

The highlight from the trip however, was obtaining footage of never before seen signalling behaviour from the stunning superb dragon, Diporiphora suberba (Fig 2). There is much to do before we are able to fill in the gaps currently existing in our knowledge of motion-based animal communication, but field trips such as this are the first step in understanding the behaviour of Australia’s native dragon species.

Diporiphora superba
Fig. 2 – Diporiphora superba

Stay tuned for more details from this trip …