Research has been underway at Gluepot Reserve since its purchase in 1997 with the National Black-eared Miner Recovery Team studying the endangered species ecology, social organisation and population dynamics. Students were soon to follow with the first doctorate, Rhidian Harrington (University of Melbourne), looking at the impact of artificial watering points on the reserves avifauna. Rhidian’s atlas sites, still used today, found that watering points promoted a loss of biodiversity, with common water-dependent bird species benefiting at the expense of rarer water-independent species. The thesis highlighted the critical issue of managing artificial water points within the arid zones of Australia.
The Reserve hosted The Mallee Fire and Biodiversity Project, a $1.6 million studying looking at fire mosaics in relation to biodiversity. This project was supervised by La Trobe and Deakin Universities and seven PhD projects were involved over three seasons from 2006. A summary of the projects results can be found in the Mallee Fire Biodiversity Brochure. Key findings included the detrimental impact of large homogenously burnt landscapes and the importance of large areas of old-growth habitat to mallee fauna. These results are now helping fire managers to make decisions throughout the mallee environment to better preserve the native fauna and flora. Continuation of this theme, Zoe Reynolds (ANU), a current PhD student at Gluepot, is looking at the impact of bushfires on mallee bird distribution and abundance, specifically looking at the impact of unburnt patches with the fire scar and their role as faunal refuges.
The reserve has also hosted behavioural and physiology projects. The PhD student Dragos Moise (University of Adelaide) studied the ecology and behaviour of the Red-lored and Gilbert’s Whistler. While researchers at the University of Adelaide, led by Todd McWhorter, have looked at the physiology of heat tolerance in arid zone birds to better understand how climate change might impact different families of birds in the long-term. Research is carried out on other fauna besides birds, with Martin Whiting (Macquaire University) and colleagues studying the evolution of sociality and social learning in Egernia striolata and Flinders University students studying various aspects of skink ecology.