2015 - ARC Linkage Awards

Recovering Australia’s migratory shorebirds

Dr Richard Fuller, Professor Hugh Possingham

Partner Organisations: Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management Inc, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection/Department of Environment and Resourec Management, Queensland Wader Study Group.

Project summary: This project seeks to determine how Australia’s coastal environments can be managed to aid in the recovery of threatened shorebird species. Millions of migratory shorebirds arrive in Australia each year from their Arctic breeding grounds, yet many of these iconic species are in rapid decline, and two were recently nominated as nationally threatened in Australia. Recovering these threatened species is an important priority. The project aims to discover when and where to act to recover declining migratory species. It also plans to assess the strength of protective mechanisms already in place in Australia and overseas to protect migratory species from extinction, and determine how to improve protection for migrants when they arrive on Australia’s shores.


Planning for the impacts of land-uses on coral reef fisheries

Dr Carissa Klein, Prof Peter Mumby, A/Prof James Watson

Partner Organisations: Wildlife Conservation Society

Project summary: This projects aims to develop models that can determine the ecological and economic impacts of land-use changes (e.g. agriculture) on fisheries and assess alternative land-use plans that seek to maximise economic opportunity while protecting fisheries. Fisheries support the livelihoods of 12 per cent of the world’s population. Land-based activities are among the most significant threats to coral reef fisheries because sediments and nutrients degrade reefs, yet they are often ignored in fisheries management. By improving the sustainability of coastal development, biodiversity conservation, and health of fisheries, the models developed by the project could deliver socio-economic and environmental benefits for millions of people reliant upon fisheries for their livelihoods.


2014 - ARC Linkage Awards

Designing effective fish-friendly waterway culverts: integration of hydrodynamics and swimming performance - $527,824

Prof Craig Franklin, Prof Hubert Chanson, Dr Matthew Gordos

Partner Organisation: NSW Fisheries

Project Summary: Man-made in-stream structures (for example, dams and road crossings) have contributed to major declines in native fish numbers, with more than 6,000 barriers to fish migration occurring in New South Wales alone. Recognising this, Fisheries New South Wales led the development of national guidelines for the design and construction of fish friendly road crossings. Unfortunately, these guidelines have little empirical backing. This project will integrate data on the swimming ability of Australian fish species with culvert hydrodynamic modelling to better understand fish requirements in and around road crossings. These data will strengthen national design guidelines and provide the tools engineers and planners need to balance fish migration with effective water management. 


Investigating movement, distribution, abundance and diet to support management objectives for threatened riverine predators in Northern Australia - $363,000

Prof Craig Franklin, Dr Hamish Campbell, Mrs Terri Irwin,  Dr Richard Pillans

Partner Organisations: Australia Zoo, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Project Summary: The rivers and estuaries of northern Australia are highly productive environments, containing an exceptional diversity and abundance of large predatory aquatic species. This project aims to monitor the movements, habitat preferences and diet in eight large predatory species in a northern Queensland river over the next three years. Movement data will be combined with isotopic analysis to reveal how environmental and biological factors drive animal movements and impact habitat connectivity. In a world of vanishing top predators, it is imperative to understand system dynamics before we can evaluate the impact of species removal on ecosystem function. 


Imaging the world of miniature venomous arthropods - $425,000

Prof Glenn King, A/Prof Bryan Fry, Prof Deon Venter, Dr Brett Hamilton

Partner Organisation: Mater Misericordiae Health Services Brisbane Ltd
Project Summary: Venomous arthropods produce a myriad of biologically active peptides, with many having potential as pharmacological tools, bioinsecticides and pharmaceuticals. Most studies to date have focussed on large arthropods; smaller species remain neglected due to the difficulties of venom collection. This project seeks to further advance the pioneering imaging mass spectrometry approaches the project team developed for imaging toxins in the venom glands of spiders and centipedes. By combining high-resolution matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation imaging data with histological and transcriptomic information the project aims to provide the first detailed insights into the neglected world of miniature arthropod venoms. The approaches developed by this project aim to have wide application in the field of biology. 


Smart allocation of restoration funds - $255,000

Dr Kerrie Wilson, Prof Carla Catterall,  Dr Timothy Robson

Partner Organisation: Gold Coast City Council

Project Summary: Over a quarter of Australia’s native forests and woodlands have been cleared since European settlement, and vegetation restoration is urgently needed to avoid further loss of species and ecosystem services (such as clean air and water). This project aims to develop new theory and methods to help environmental managers allocate restoration funds for vegetation recovery in a way that addresses the tension between risk aversion and aspirations to maximise return on investment. Restoration ecologists and decision scientists are here partnered with natural area managers from the City of Gold Coast, to make public expenditure on restoration more effective, efficient and transparent. 


Assessing animal exposure to urticating caterpillar hairs and developing management strategies to reduce the consequence of foetal abortion in mares - $513,500

Prof Myron Zalucki,  Prof Wayne Bryden, Dr Bronwen Cribb, Ms Alison Cawdell-Smith,  Prof Nigel Perkins, Mr Derek Field - Partner Organisations: Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre, AusVet Animal Health Services

Project Summary: Equine Amnionitis and Foetal Loss (EAFL) accounts for about a third of mares aborting in thoroughbred horse studs in southern Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Previous studies have shown that processionary caterpillars and their irritating setae (hairs) can cause EAFL. This project aims to determine the likelihood that other caterpillar species are involved based on hair morphology and a surrogate model system. A full risk assessment of the exposure of mares to these hairs in situ will be undertaken, based on the ecology and biology of the species. Outcomes include a management strategy for EAFL-causing insects and a reduction of EAFL within the industry.  


2013 - ARC Linkage Awards

A pan-genome reverse vaccinology approach to disease prevention in farmed fish - $196,452

A/Prof Andy Barnes, Dr Scott Beatson, Prof Mark Walker, Dr Les Gabor

Partner organisation: Novartis Animal Health Australasia Pty Ltd

Project Summary: Evolution of new pathogen strains causes major problems in vaccinated animals because these variants can reinfect and cause severe disease in previously protected animals. This project will use state-of-the-art genomics to find new targets that are essential to all strain variants, enabling development of broadly cross-protective vaccines for farmed animals.   


Strength in uniformity – novel clonal technologies for a more productive avocado industry - $311,370

Dr Neena Mitter, Prof Christine Beveridge, A/Prof Bernie Carroll, Dr John Wilkie, Mr Russell Delroy, Mr Neil Delroy, Mr Graham Anderson.

Partner organisations: Andersons Horticulture, Delroy Orchards, Jasper Farms, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Project Summary: Cost and time efficient clonal propagation protocols to multiply elite avocado rootstocks for increased productivity is a major industry gap. This project will develop novel approaches coupling tissue culture with recent advances in root induction, which will profitably deliver large numbers of uniform and high yielding avocado plants to national and international growers.   


Translating genomic discoveries into improved commercial outcomes for the South Sea pearl industry - $467,600

Prof Bernie Degnan, Mr Patrick Moase, Dr Jens Knauer.

Partner organisation: Clipper Pearls P/L

Project Summary: The purpose of this project is to understand the relationship between gene expression and pearl quality. By identifying the relationship between genes and pearls this project will determine the best conditions to grow selected pearl oyster stocks for the Australian South Sea pearl industry.     


2012 - ARC Linkage Awards

Reconciling competing objectives for the design of marine reserve networks: biodiversity, food security, and local equity in benefits - $285,000

Prof Peter Mumby, Prof Hugh Possingham, Dr Cynthia Riginos, Prof Geoffrey Jones and Dr Eric Treml

Partner Organisation: USAID Coral Triangle Support Partnership, World Bank

Project Summary: This project uses a decision-theoretic framework to balance the often conflicting marine conservation objectives of preserving biodiversity and building food security for local communities in the socially and ecologically complex region of the Coral Triangle. A new reserve design will boost biodiversity conservation and better support livelihoods.


Identifying cost-effective reforestation approaches for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration in southern Australia - $180,000

Prof Corey Bradshaw and Dr Margaret Mayfield. With The University of Adelaide.

Partner Organisations: SA Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Zoos SA and Australian Flora Foundation

Project Summary: The project will determine the reforestation approach that maximises the native biodiversity found bushland/shrubland regrowth in South Australia, while maximising the carbon sequestered for the lowest cost. This project will use controlled planting experiments modifying tree/shrub diversity and plant density combined with species and carbon monitoring

Science on the continental shelf: securing our deep-sea biodiversity for the future - $355,000

A/Prof Greg Skilleter, Prof Bernie Degnan and Dr Sandie Degnan

Project Summary: This project signals the start of exciting new research using manned submersibles to explore and describe the rich biodiversity inhabiting Australia's deep-sea continental shelf. The outcomes will provide a sound basis for managing these environmental treasures against the pressing need to use the oil and gas reserves that lie under the seabed.

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