School of Biological Sciences researchers will join with industry partners on projects involving marine reserves and metal contamination in mammals in the latest Australian Research Council (ARC) round.

School researchers attracted two grants from 29 awarded to The University of Queensland in the competitive Linkage Projects scheme, with grants to the School of Biological Sciences valued at $612,771 (from the ARC), plus industry contributions.

In addition, School researchers were chief investigators in three other Linkage projects, led by other universities, with the value of ARC contributions at $967,000.

The Head of School, Professor Mark Blows, congratulated the successful researchers and said the five successful projects were obviously relevant to industry, in food security, urban green spaces, blue carbon ecosystems, and in wildlife conservation.

“We work closely with our industry partners who value the international standard of research being conducted in our School,” he said. 

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the quality of any project that successfully drew ARC and industry funding was exceptionally high.

“Many worthy projects go unfunded, indicating that the successful ones really are the crème de la crème,” he said. 

 

Successful School of Biological Sciences Linkage project grant applications were:

Operationalizing marine reserve design for rebuilding tropical fisheries – ARC funding $287,771
This project intends to maximise the scope for rebuilding reef fisheries while ensuring short-term levels do not become too low. Like many developing countries, Indonesia wishes to rebuild its heavily over-exploited coral reef fisheries. Marine reserves allow fish populations to recover and replenish fished areas. However, because reserves remove fishing grounds, fish catches tend to decrease in the short-term while fish recover in reserves; a process that can take a decade. Loss of yield can be so burdensome that managers abandon fisheries. This research is intended to improve the economic security of fishers and food security, and inform World Bank and Australian aid programs.

  • Science Faculty Chief Investigator: Professor Pete Mumby
  • Industry partners: World Wildlife Fund US; Wildlife Conservation Society; World Wildlife Fund Indonesia.

 

The ecology of trace metal contamination in native Australian mammals - ARC funding $325,000
This project aims to evaluate the impacts of mined trace metals on the health and performance of native Australian mammals in a northern tropical ecosystem and to determine how each species’ ecology contributes to their risk of contamination. The research also aims to give local Indigenous Rangers scientifically based strategies to improve wildlife conservation on their island. Australia’s long-term health relies on its ability to minimise the environmental costs of mining, particularly in areas characterised by high biodiversity, unique native species, or species of cultural or touristic value. Anticipated outcomes are better, more targeted strategies for conservation in mining areas.

  • Science Faculty Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Robbie Wilson; Dr Diana Fisher; Dr Simon Blomberg
  • Industry partners: Anindilyakwa Land Council.

Successful projects collaborating with other universities
School of Biological Sciences researchers also were chief investigators in three successful applications led by other universities.  Projects and School researchers were:

Associate Professor Richard Fuller is a chief investigator in a project led by RMIT University – ARC funding $321,000

This project aims to determine mechanisms linking urban design to socio-ecological benefits from green spaces. Ecological restoration in urban green space could attract more biodiversity into urban environments, reduce maintenance costs, provide market advantage for the development industry and improve a sense of place for residents. However, how best to encourage biodiversity using urban design is poorly understood, and little is known about how green spaces create health and well-being. This project will alter levels of green space design explanatory variables in modular experimental plots, in both Royal Park, the City of Melbourne’s largest public green space, and Melbourne’s CBD; conduct biodiversity and human wellbeing experiments; and develop urban design recommendations that support biodiversity and human wellbeing.

  • Industry partners: Arup Pty Limited: Melbourne City Council (City of Melbourne); Phillip Johnson Landscapes; Greening Australia Ltd.

Associate Professor Richard Fuller is also a chief investigator in a project led by Melbourne University – ARC funding $320,000
This project aims to explore the effects of different urban tree types and plantings on people and wildlife in Melbourne, Moreland and Ballarat so they can better plan their future urban forests. Local governments spend millions of dollars planting and maintaining urban trees every year. Research provides little guidance to these land managers when making critical decisions in a rapidly changing social and physical environment. This project will combine tree inventory data with new information on the social and ecological effects of trees (for example, human well-being, bird diversity). This research is expected to guide future tree management decisions that have better social and environmental outcomes for Australia’s cities.

  • Industry partners: Melbourne City Council (City of Melbourne); Moreland City Council; Ballarat City Council; Royal Botanic Gardens and National Herbarium of Victoria.

Professor Catherine Lovelock is a chief investigator in a project led by Deakin University – ARC funding $326,000
This project aims to develop decision tools to predict how different management plans could affect the persistence of coastal ecosystems and their capacity to sequester carbon. Coastal ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems (seagrasses, saltmarshes, mangroves) are among Earth’s most efficient carbon sinks, but coastal development and climate change threaten their capacity to sequester carbon. Resource managers urgently need guidance to manage coasts to minimise carbon losses and maximise gains. This project is expected to develop knowledge of how to manage blue carbon ecosystems to achieve maximum carbon sequestration capacity, and to put Australia at the forefront of international efforts to incorporate coastal carbon within carbon dioxide mitigation strategies.

  • Industry partners: The Trustee for the Nature Conservancy Australia Trust; Park Victoria; DELWP.

 

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