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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Crowdfunding Wildlife Restoration

Crowdfunding Wildlife Restoration


Running River Rainbowfish, Queensland Australia (credit: David Hume Australian Wildlife Conservancy)


Crowdfunding is a novel way to support creative projects and personally help them reach their goals. Filmmakers and musicians have especially used this funding mechanism to complete many independent  projects. Why not also use this strategy to help restore biological diversity and wildlife conservation efforts? At least one creative 'success story' now exists in a remote location in Australia.

In the far north of Queensland, a small endemic fish lived in a section of Running River, the multi-colored Burdekin Rainbowfish. The 2" fish has glittering, rainbow bands along its sides and is a popular fish with aquarium hobbyists around the world. Its physical distinctions were maintained by its isolated river habitat separated from other sections of the river by plunging waterfalls. While conducting a field survey in the river's upper regions, aquatic ecologists discovered that a more widespread rainbowfish species had somehow managed to colonize this restricted habitat. The invader had begun to breed with its more colorful cousin which would have led to its extinction.

In practice, the field of restoration ecology requires using knowledge from the science of ecology and apply that in real-world recovery situations. Besides the science, restoration projects often require technological expertise, engineering talents, and a dose of artistic flair to succeed. But what to do if no biological knowledge exists on an obscure species? The very situation with the Queensland rainbowfish.

Genetically pure rainbowfish were collected and a captive breeding program initiated by the University of Canberra and James Cook University. Besides the issue of successfully reproducing a novel species in captive tanks, the restoration program would eventually require: getting the small fish to survive in the wild by learning to feed and defend themselves from predators as well as other unexpected issues for real-world success. A video documents the field work, laboratory efforts, technology development, and eventual release of the pure rainbowfish back into its habitat.

The results, required to save a small fish are told directly by the people involved in its recovery here:

The project continues being managed by the conservation fund. Additional endangered wildlife species are being considered for future projects applying the knowledge gained from this first restoration success. You can participate in the ongoing efforts or support a new project here. Environmental restoration is moving forward with exciting combinations of old and new tools now. Join the fun!


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