Project summaries - 2011 Environmental Research - seeding grants
Acid test for the capacity of estuaries to adapt to climate change
Enhanced CO2 emissions are acidifying the oceans, yet resulting changes to marine life are poorly understood. We will use molecular tools to assess the extent to which acid-sulfate acidification of estuaries, a problem which for years has affected NSW waters might help inform future impacts of CO2-acidification. If we can show that the same genes of aquatic organisms are turned on or off by each type of acidification, we will be able to use the already-observed responses of organisms to acid-sulfate runoff to generate realistic predictions about the future of NSW estuaries that support fisheries productivity worth $580 million per annum.
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University of Newcastle
Cryptic invader: green alga codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides in NSW
Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides is one of the most invasive algae, and its introduction to NSW can have serious environmental implications. Due to its similarity to the native subspecies (tasmanicum and novae-zelandiae), the introduction is likely go undetected until the alga is well established. This study will undertake the first quantitative assessment of the invasion by non-native codium, fragile in NSW, and document its distribution and abundance along rocky shores and estuaries of the state. This will help to identify the degree of infestation and to assess potential damage to the environment.
University of New England
Carbon storage potential of the NSW national parks system
The NSW National Parks System is an extensive, public landholding with potential to store large additional quantities of carbon for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has identified an urgent need for data to quantify current and potential carbon storage in this landholding. Using existing spatial data, this seeding project will: (1)estimate current carbon stocks (soil and vegetation);(2) delineate areas where land is suitable for management to enhance carbon storage; and (3)provide a "first approximation" of carbon storage potential, across the NSW National Parks System. This will provide the conceptual and practical framework for more extensive and refined carbon inventory in the NSW National Parks System.
This project will directly assess trophic processes to identify ecological thresholds in rivers subjected to human disturbance, and identify the nature of alternative, stable states in river ecosystems. To achieve this it will use tissue samples from museum specimens to obtain stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen to generate a timeline of the trophic dynamics of rivers. Stable isotope ratios of these organisms reflect the materials assimilated into tissue biomass. Additionally, measures of trophic dynamics calculated from these samples provide a gauge of ecosystem health through assessment of food chain length.
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University of Western Sydney
Reactive oxygen species in acidified waterways: a new paradigm
The mobility of metals in acid mine drainage and acid sulfate soil landscapes have a deleterious impact on downstream ecosystems. Metal mobility under these conditions has previously been shown to have daily variation, but the reasons for the variation have yet to be explored. This research aims to provide proof that the photo-Fenton production of reactive oxygen species is the driver for several key chemical reactions liquid discharge from these polluted environments. In acid mine and acid sulfate soil drainage reactive oxygen species may increase the mobility of toxic heavy metals. This project will investigate discharge waters from acid mine drainage and acid sulfate soil landscapes to quantify the production of reactive oxygen species.
Page last updated: 02 August 2012