Project summaries - 2006 Environmental Research - major grants

2006 Environmental Research - major grants
OrganisationCategoryProject titleAmount $
CSIRO - Land and Water (Lucas Heights)Waters and catchmentsA genetic approach for rapidly assessing sediment diversity

162,937

Department of Environment and ConservationWaters and catchmentsDevelopment of ecosystem function indicators for riverine estuaries

189,000

Department of Environment and ConservationHazardous substances and wasteMeasurement of polar organic pollutants in environment by LC-MS

99,828

Department of Environment and ConservationWaters and catchmentsVegetation change on endangered coastal floodplains

190,000

Department of Environment and ConservationHazardous substances and wasteUsing micro-contaminants to fingerprint complex organic wastes

86,807

RMIT University (Melbourne VIC)Waters and catchmentsSalinity and river biodiversity: varying salinity and other stressors

80,224

University of New EnglandWaters and catchmentsMeasuring ecological success of regional urban stream restoration

137,200

University of WollongongWaters and catchmentsNatural versus human impacts: management of the Macquarie Marshes

199,216

University of WollongongWaters and catchmentsImproving management of Salvinia in temperate aquatic ecosystems

192,871

University of WollongongHazardous substances and wasteDiffuse gradients in thin films to quantify Anionic metals

98,754

10 projects 

TOTAL

$1,436,837

Department of Environment and Conservation
Vegetation change on endangered coastal floodplains
Grant: $190,000

This project will improve basic knowledge of ecological processes on coastal floodplains by monitoring contemporary vegetation patterns and investigating historical changes over varying time scales. Permanent vegetation monitoring sites will be established at floodplain sites representing the range of variation determined in earlier work. These will be assessed for short-term change (2 years) and will be available to assess future change. Remote sensing will be used to assess vegetation change on selected floodplains over recent decades. Selected locations of historical property plan surveys will be re-visited to assess vegetation change over the past century. The likely mechanisms of vegetation change over annual, decadal and century time scales will be interpreted and elucidated with reference to documented environmental changes.

CSIRO - Land and Water (Lucas Heights)
A genetic approach for rapidly assessing sediment diversity
Grant: $162,937

This project is designed to develop a rapid and cost effective approach for assessing the health of estuarine sedimentary environments using novel genetic techniques. This initially involves the creation of a micro array chip, a spotted-glass template which encapsulates the genetic information of a range of macro benthic invertebrates diagnostic of sediment health. Once created, the genetic information from spatially and temporally collected sediment samples will be compared against the template microarray. Bioinformatics will then be used to develop semi-quantitative responses based on gene presence or absence, which can then be used to measure similarities and differences among biotic samples.

Department of Environment and Conservation
Development of ecosystem function indicators for riverine estuaries
Grant: $189,000

The DEFIRE project is a collaboration between DEC and Dr Angus Ferguson of ABER to develop a framework for monitoring ecological health in riverine estuaries and ICOLLs in Northern and Central NSW, providing a suite of health indicators to assess long term change and evaluate the performance of NRM programs. An ecosystem response model will be developed and validated that describes the relationship between climatic/environmental factors, WQ/sediment indicators and key processes/functions. A set of indicator guidelines will be developed that allows the assessment of ecosystem health along a scale from pristine to heavily impacted, and provides the identification of critical health thresholds. The model will also provide an accessible tool for the assessment of NRM scenario impacts on riverine estuaries and ICOLLS.

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This project will reconstruct the past ecologies of the iconic Macquarie Marshes (MM) to disentangle natural versus induced ecological changes. Aquatic biota, flooding and water quality, fire regime, vegetation and climate change over the past approximately 10,000 years (equivalent to the oldest lacustrine sediments of the MM; ref 1) will be documented using sediment cores from the northern and southern MM. The project will focus particularly on the past 500 years to produce a sound knowledge of the environment before and after European arrival. World recognised experts on macrophytes, charophytes, diatoms, pollen, pigments, charcoal, geochemistry, dating and geomorphology, are participating in the project, which makes this study unique and very powerful.

Department of Environment and Conservation
Measurement of polar organic pollutants in environment by LC-MS
Grant: $99,828

This 12 month project is to research the application of gradient liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) for screening and measuring polar herbicides and pesticides, and their metabolites, in complex, and sometimes unknown, environmental samples. Specifically, this study will concentrate on the effects that sample matrix and mobile phase composition have on the fragmentation pattern of analytes and measurement sensitivity obtainable. Using a group of forty pesticides and herbicides as model compounds, procedures will be developed for identifying and quantifying these compounds in gradient LC-MS before its application to real samples. The applicability of acceptance criteria to provide quality assurance in unambiguously identifying analytes in environmental samples will also be investigated.

Department of Environment and Conservation
Using micro-contaminants to fingerprint complex organic wastes
Grant: $86,807

This project will use comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography time of flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC/TOFMS) to develop a rapid and robust method for the identification and characterisation of complex organic wastes. The detailed chemical fingerprints produced by this method will be used in environmental forensic investigations of pollution events to identify and determine the source of the pollutants. The work covered by this grant will focus on two specific wastes, biodiesel and its by-products, and particulates produced from the use of coal. Both of these pollutants are increasing environmental hazards that proved to be difficult and time consuming to fingerprint using existing technologies.

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RMIT University (Melbourne VIC)
Salinity and river biodiversity: varying salinity and other stressors
Grant: $80,224

Salinisation and disposal of saline water (from mining and industry) in combination with other stressors (e.g. high temperature) are recognised as threats to the environmental health of many NSW rivers. Current methods to assess the risk of salinity on freshwater biodiversity assume salinity not to vary through time and not to co-occur with other environmental changes. We know these assumptions do not hold; preliminary information suggests they affect salinity tolerance. We propose to link biophysical modelling and ecotoxicity results for salinity and other stressors, especially changes in water temperature. This will result in new tools for assessing the impact of varying salinity and temperature on freshwater macroinvertebrates.

University of New England
Measuring ecological success of regional urban stream restoration
Grant: $137,200

Success of river restoration is seldom assessed, especially in regional areas where research expertise may be limited. Streams in regional towns receive urban and rural inputs, confounding extrapolation of results from urban streams in cities. We will assess ecological success of restoration (riparian sediment control, revegetation) along a regional urban stream, comparing data with unrestored reaches (controls) and target reference sites. Response variables include riparian bird and plant diversity, stream invertebrates and their food, water quality, leaf breakdown rates, and channel stability. Our results will illustrate whether current restoration has succeeded and help guide future restoration in urban regional streams.

University of Wollongong
Improving management of Salvinia in temperate aquatic ecosystems
Grant: $192,871

In temperate regions, Salvinia molesta invades freshwater rivers and lakes where it causes significant problems, resulting in losses to biodiversity, the community and economic structures. Future climate change is also likely to increase the distribution of this invasive weed and current management in temperate regions is expensive, ineffective and has not been evaluated. In order to develop efficient and economical long term management of Salvinia, this project will assess the effects of Salvinia invasion and control efforts on river systems, and then develop new methods of control that focus on improving the efficiency of biocontrol for temperate regions.

University of Wollongong
Diffuse gradients in thin films to quantify Anionic metals
Grant: $98,754

Selenium and arsenic are toxic chemicals that have been found in high concentrations near smelters (Port Kembla) and coal-fired power stations (Lake Macquarie). These metaloids cycle through sediments and waters in aquatic environments, and become ingested by organisms, with the potential to induce toxicity to plants, animals and people that consume them. This project will develop a monitoring device that measures the amount of arsenic and selenium that is 'available' to aquatic animals and plants. The device will be optimised under laboratory conditions, tested at contaminated and uncontaminated sites and finally evaluated by comparison with toxicant levels in organisms.

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Page last updated: 27 February 2011