Project summaries - 2007 Environmental Research - major grants
Australian Catholic University
Mosquito control, saltmarsh and insectivorous bats: seeking a balance
Recent decades have seen severe declines in threatened coastal saltmarsh in eastern Australia due in part to housing pressures. As housing densities adjacent to saltmarsh have increased, so has pressure to control insects due to nuisance biting and potential health risks. This research examines the importance of threatened saltmarsh communities as feeding habitat for up to 12 rare insectivorous bat species and whether mosquito spraying impacts on bat numbers and/or home ranges. The research is required urgently to allow NSW estuary managers to seek a balance between controlling nuisance biting of people by mosquito species and conserving important bat habitats.
CSIRO Energy Technology
Contribution of vehicle emissions to fine particle composition
Characterisation of regional differences in composition of fine particles with diameters less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and their emission sources provides critical information for epidemiological studies and emission control strategies. Under a previous 2005 Environmental Trust Research grant, CSIRO has developed and used new methods to chemically and physically characterise sub-PM2.5 particles. The proposed study will focus on vehicle emissions, and will determine the organic and inorganic speciation of PM2.5 and PM1 to a selected major Sydney road tunnel and from sites located downwind of these locations. A variety of methods will be used to collect particles with diameters ranging from 2.5 µm down to 10 nm. Using techniques developed in the previous ETR study, chemical composition as a function of particle size will be determined.
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Integrated strategies for restoring grassy woodlands
Invasive exotic annual weeds threaten biodiversity in many grassy ecosystems in southern Australia. Earlier studies funded by the NSW Environmental Trust identified promising options for controlling these weeds and restoring native perennial vegetation that is resistant to re-invasion. However these options cannot yet be widely applied due to lack of sufficient development and integration for practical application. This project will compare and develop integrated strategies for replacing exotic annuals with native plants in temperate grassy woodlands, and will compare the effectiveness of different native grasses for resisting further weed invasion. A demonstration site will be established to display outcomes to land managers. The project will provide the way forward for restoring degraded understoreys in many threatened ecosystems in NSW.
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Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW
Nutrient transformation and attenuation within tidal rivers
The project will address the current gap in knowledge about the fate of nutrients that enter rivers throughout the catchment and then pass along the river and move into estuarine waters. Nutrient cycling rates will be determined through process based understanding rather than stoichiometric inferences as done previously (viz. LOICZ budgets). The project will experimentally examine relationships between important environmental drivers (i.e. river flow and light) and key nutrient cycling processes (e.g. N-fixation/denitrification, nutrient assimilation/remineralisation) along the Hawkesbury-Nepean tidal river. The results will be synthesised into a conceptual biogeochemical model that will bridge the gap between existing catchment export models and estuarine response models (i.e. DEFIRE).
Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW
Rapid assessment of cumulative stressors on fish populations
The accumulation of dioxin in commercial fish species from Sydney Harbour has been examined in detail from a human health perspective. Despite there being high concentrations of dioxin like compounds in fish there has been no work done to assess whether fish in Sydney Harbour display any signs of stress in relation to this chemical exposure. The Sydney Harbour biomarker study aims to help fill this gap by looking for biomarker (biochemical) responses to chemical exposure. Fish stress responses will be assessed along the known gradient of chemical exposure and will identify the areas of concern with respect to fish stress. It will also identify species which may be appropriate for monitoring changes to levels of stress in fish through time which may result from the remediation of Homebush Bay and other improvements to aquatic ecosystem health.
Department of Primary Industries NSW
Experimental cultivation and rehabilitation of seagrass
The seagrass Posidonia australis (or strapweed) can form large meadows which are important habitats for marine invertebrates and fishes. Beds of Posidonia also stabilise sediments and play an important role in nutrient cycling in estuaries. The steady decline of Posidonia worldwide is due to human impacts, poor survival of Posidonia seedlings in the wild, and slow growth of plants. This project aims to cultivate Posidonia in the laboratory and to develop techniques for enhancing the growth and survival of the plant in the wild. Posidonia will be grown from seeds and we will develop techniques for propagating plants from rhizomes.
University of NSW
Upper trophic level dynamics in the Macquarie Marshes
The purchase and delivery of environmental flows is a major component of wetland management throughout the Murray-Darling Basin. Ensuring that these efforts have beneficial ecological effects requires a thorough understanding of upper trophic level dynamics, which play a major role in regulating the structure and function of fish and bird communities. This project builds on previous research in the Macquarie Marshes by quantifying the relative importance of various food web pathways, linking primary consumers (i.e. invertebrates) to their predators (i.e. fish and birds), under different flow scenarios. In doing so, it supports the development of an adaptive management framework for the Macquarie Marshes and other wetland systems in the Basin.
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Page last updated: 27 February 2011