Project summaries - 2014 Environmental Research major grants

 

2014 Environmental Research - major grants
OrganisationCategoryProject titleAmount $

Australian Museum

Biodiversity and native vegetation

Arresting declines of woodland birds through noisy miner control

149,572

Australian Museum

Biodiversity and native vegetation

Koalas: Applying conservation genomics to manage an iconic species

149,499

CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research Pollution

Atmospheric particles in Sydney: model-observation verification

150,000

CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research

Threats to environment

Regional 21st century sea level projections for the NSW coast

150,000

Charles Sturt University

Biodiversity and native vegetation

Using agronomic principles for understorey restoration

150,000

Macquarie University Biodiversity and native vegetation

Ecological impact of myrtle rust on native vegetation

146,962
NSW Department of Primary Industries Biodiversity and native vegetation

Does thinning regrowth restore habitat for biodiversity?

145,340

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

Biodiversity and native vegetation

Predicting representative habitat for provenance sourcing

88,754

Southern Cross University

Threats to environment

Maximising environmental outcomes of coastal infrastructure upgrades

99,869

Southern Cross University

Biodiversity and native vegetation

Reef restoration: conservation solutions for critical habitats

 97,950

University of New South Wales

Pollution

Forecasting air pollution impacts from hazard reduction burns

 149,900

11 Projects

 

TOTAL

$1,477,846

Australian Museum
Arresting declines of woodland birds through noisy miner control
$149,499

Aggressive exclusion of birds from woodland and forest habitat by abundant noisy miners is a key threatening process. It has severe impacts on an extensive range of threatened woodland bird species, with flow-on effects for threatened eucalypt-dominated grassy-woodland communities. Noisy miners prefer edge-dominated habitat patches, including much of the state's remnant woodland as well as habitat-reconstruction projects targeted at woodland bird conservation. This project will quantify the efficacy, determine the cost-effectiveness, and establish benchmarks of success in removing noisy miners from selected woodland patches to promote persistence of threatened woodland birds.

Australian Museum
Koalas: Applying conservation genomics to manage an iconic species
$149,572

This project will use data gained from the recently established Koala Genome Consortium to develop a genetic assay for wild and captive koala populations and assess their genetic diversity for direct application to conservation decisions and captive breeding programs. The project also includes a genetic assessment of both koala retrovirus infection and chlamydial infection status in tested koalas. Finally, we will create a genetic tissue bank of all koalas sampled as part of this project (representing NSW koalas) which will be extended where possible to form the first Australia-wide genetic repository of koala material.

CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research
Atmospheric particles in Sydney: model-observation verification
$150,000

Airborne particle pollution is of concern to NSW communities and is a recognised as a significant health risk.  Air quality modelling is an important tool for understanding particle pollution, but is limited by uncertainties.  This project will develop quantification and understanding of uncertainties in atmospheric organic particles in the NSW Greater Metropolitan Region (GMR). This will improve the advice available to regulators and policy makers to develop policies for cleaner air in the GMR, provide a better knowledge base for the community to understand these issues and identify key areas for investment in future monitoring and modelling activities to assist with further improvements.

CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research
Regional 21st century sea level projections for the NSW coast
$150,000

Sea levels have been rising globally, in Australia and along the NSW coast during the 20th century. Globally, the rate of rise was about 1.7 millimetres per year, which is an order of magnitude larger than the average rate over previous millennia. Sea levels are projected to continue to rise during the 21st century and beyond. However, the regional distribution from ocean dynamical changes during the 21st century is poorly understood. The available projections from coarse resolution models indicate a higher rise off the southern NSW coast than off northern NSW. This project is specifically designed to assess whether or not these larger offshore rates of sea level rise apply and examine underlying processes for any regional sea-level projection differences along the NSW coast.

Charles Sturt University
Using agronomic principles for understorey restoration
$150,000

This project will develop low-risk, low-cost options for establishing understorey in revegetation initiatives that allow the creation of less weedy and more complex communities and habitats. It will evaluate agronomic principles of plant population, spacing, density, competition, seed treatment and seedbed requirements to develop establishment and management guidelines and information packages. The principles and on-site/off-site benefits of more complex understories (weed reduction, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), shelterbelts, connectivity) will be demonstrated through collaboration with agencies and landholder groups undertaking revegetation initiatives. The project will work across Southern and Central NSW with a key focus being the wheat belt where greater landscape complexity is critical.

Macquarie University
Ecological impact of myrtle rust on native vegetation
$146,962

Myrtle Rust is an exotic pathogen that is now established along the east coast of Australia. It affects plants in the abundant and structurally important Myrtaceae family, and hence has the potential to significantly impact a wide range of plant communities, including endangered communities and species. This project will investigate the impact of Myrtle Rust on plant communities of eastern NSW and on key host and threatened species. Glasshouse and field experiments will test the impact of Myrtle Rust on seedling recruitment and re-sprouting after fire. Guidelines for management strategies of native vegetation and threatened species will be developed.

NSW Department of Primary Industries
Does thinning regrowth restore habitat for biodiversity?
$145,340

Restoration of degraded habitats can take many forms, but there have been growing calls to thin dense regrowth to restore habitat values. This is especially the case for cypress forests in western NSW, because it often regenerates as dense 'wheatfields', but then locks up in a state that does not change for decades. Currently, the science is lacking to identify the benefits of thinning for biodiversity and this hinders providing guidance to managers. Our research will provide key ecological data to assess biodiversity impacts/benefits of thinning cypress and it will guide how thinning could be used for restoration. This will be achieved by sampling biodiversity at sites previously thinned and by establishing an experiment to provide a base-line for measuring future changes. Radio-tracking a sensitive, threatened species will help identify retention levels of un-thinned stands.

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust
Predicting representative habitat for provenance sourcing
$88,754

This project will identify representative habitat to guide provenance-informed and climate-ready ecological restoration processes. Environmental Niche Models (ENMs) will be developed for more than 200 species commonly used in restoration across NSW. For each species, modelling will predict extant habitat, how it shifts, and how species are likely to respond to change based on their life histories and land use. Findings will also define sampling strategies needed for defining the evolutionary potential and provenance boundaries of each species (as targeted in a broader project: Restore & Renew NSW). Modelling interactions between multiple species will help better predict potential changes in community composition.

Southern Cross University
Maximising environmental outcomes of coastal infrastructure upgrades
$99,869

To protect valuable assets from coastal inundation the NSW Government will need to upgrade frontline coastal protection infrastructure (e.g. break walls, training walls and groynes). If done well, these upgrades can enhance marine biodiversity, provide additional habitat for vulnerable species and improve aesthetic values, recreational amenity and tourism opportunities. This project will use the current and proposed upgrades of Coffs Harbour break walls to determine materials and structures that maximise the environmental benefits of coastal protection upgrades. The outcomes of this project will greatly benefit future work on public marine infrastructure throughout regional NSW.

Southern Cross University
Reef restoration: conservation solutions for critical habitats
$97,950

NSW has extensive subtropical coral reefs, which are unique due to their high-latitude location. These reefs provide critical habitat structure but environmental perturbations can threaten biodiversity. Reef restoration can re-establish damaged areas, but has traditionally relied on using coral fragments, which is costly, restricted to small areas and limited to branching species. This project will use innovative surface micro-topographies to optimise the recruitment of coral larvae as a source for reef reseeding, providing a more viable alternative. The development of these techniques will ensure that NSW environmental agencies are equipped to adaptively manage threats to reef biodiversity, including commercially important taxa.

University of New South Wales
Forecasting air pollution impacts from hazard reduction burns
$149,900

Air pollution events associated with bushfires have been associated with extreme health impacts, including increased hospital admissions and death. Hazard reduction burns are vital to reduce the severity of bushfires. However, if undertaken during unfavourable meteorological conditions, they too have the capacity to trigger extreme air pollution events. This research will produce a tool for forecasting air pollution impacts caused by hazard reduction burns over the Greater Sydney region. The tool will improve planning of burn times to reduce extreme pollution risk to the community, while still allowing NSW land managers and fire agencies to carry out this vital work.

 

Page last updated: 17 February 2016