At just six, Grace Fulton is possibly Australia’s youngest scientist,participating in field research to help protect precious owl species.
Since the age of four, Grace has been joining her father, University ofQueensland scientist Graham Fulton, capturing critical data about owl species,including powerful, southern boobook, sooty and masked owls.
Mr Fulton said he is delighted his daughter is so passionate about protectingthese birds, and she loves being immersed in nature.
“Grace absolutely adores owls,” he said.
“She was only four when she started spending nights with me in the rainforestsearching for them, and now she knows all of their calls.
“Since then she’s been travelling across the country collecting data aboutwhat and where these birds are and what’s happening to their populations ashabitats decline.
“She’s even a lead author in a research article in a published peer-reviewedscientific journal.”
Grace’s most recent research was conducted at two sites, one close to her homein suburban Brisbane, and the other in the rainforests of Mount Glorious,outside the city.
“Grace and I were keen to compare how forest owls and other nocturnal birds doin dense urban areas compared to leafy, wild places like Mount Glorious,” MrFulton said.
“It came as no surprise that there was a distinct lack of owls in the Brisbanesuburb – the habitat is just so poor for owls when compared to MountGlorious’s lush rainforest.
“We really need bigger reserves with old trees in Brisbane’s suburbs, whichare better connected and have no dogs and cats, so they can support owls andplenty of other forest species.”
Despite her scientific focus on owls, Ms Fulton is inquisitive about all sortsof species.
“Snakes are really close to her heart – she doesn’t see them as bad, anddefinitely isn’t afraid to touch them,” Mr Fulton said.
“And right now she’s absolutely fascinated by the migration of butterfliesacross Brisbane.
“We also like to play with leeches as she thinks they’re cute!
“Ever since she was two-years-old she’s never stopped asking why, and I’mthrilled to help foster her curiosity about the natural world.”
The research has been published in Pacific Conservation Biology (DOI:10.1071/PC19042).
Image above left: Grace Fulton and father Graham with a rare masked owl.
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