Project summaries - 2008 Environmental Research - major grants

2008 Environmental Research - major grants
OrganisationCategoryProject titleAmount $
Australian MuseumBiodiversityMonitoring the response of NSW bivalves to changed environment


CSIRO Land and WaterHazardous substances and wasteEcotoxicology of manufactured nanoparticles in natural waters


CSIRO Energy TechnologyAir-biophysicalFine particle carbon fraction: limits of control


CSIRO Energy TechnologyAir-socio-economicSustainable energy planning to reduce environment impacts


CSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsBiodiversityAssisted colonization to maintain and restore grassland ecosystems


CSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsBiodiversityConservation management under climate change


Department of Environment and Climate Change NSWBiodiversityAssessing the vulnerability of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise


Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS)BiodiversityExpatriation of tropical fishes to nsw: climate change effects


University of NewcastleBiodiversityUnderstanding micro-evolutionary responses to disturbances


University of SydneyBiodiversityRestoring the ecosystem: storage of carbon in soil by microbes


University of WollongongHazardous substances and waste'Sponge Watch': assessing the utility of sponges as biomonitors


11 Projects 



Australian Museum
Monitoring the response of NSW bivalves to changed environment
Grant: $17,800

Intensive surveys of the present distribution of selected littoral and estuarine bivalves will be undertaken to establish a time series to investigate current and potential threats to these organisms. The species to be studied have been major components of NSW marine ecosystems but face mounting threats from increased water temperatures, ocean current changes, aquaculture escapees and invasive competitors. The survey will be designed so historical distribution data and a classical 1960's study of variation in the Sydney cockle can be used as a foundation for the time series to determine how species have coped with recent environmental challenges.

CSIRO Land and Water
Ecotoxicology of manufactured nanoparticles in natural waters
Grant: $99,998

The increasing commercial application of nanoparticles is leading to concern for their environmental fate and toxicity. Based on studies in synthetic waters, manufactured nanoparticles are believed to be more toxic to aquatic biota than their equivalent macroparticles. There is now a pressing need to develop toxicity tests to address specific nanoparticle hazards in natural waters. This project establishes appropriate toxicity testing protocols for nanoparticles in natural waters and evaluates the role of water chemistry in altering the toxicity of nanomaterials from that predicted in synthetic waters. Such information will provide valuable information to underpin the environmental regulation of manufactured nanomaterials.

CSIRO Energy Technology
Fine particle carbon fraction: limits of control
Grant: $199,550

This project will assess the contribution of biogenic precursors to the secondary organic aerosol (SOA) burden in the Sydney airshed. Radiocarbon dating of C14, a carbon isotope that is not found in the fossil carbon signature, will be used to determine the contribution of biogenic sources to both the carbonaceous and total particle burden. Fine particulate matter (PM) will be collected at two sites (one central e.g. Rozelle and one outer e.g. Campbelltown) in sufficient quantities to permit C14 analysis. Data will also be obtained on proportions of elemental and organic carbon contents. Two summer periods and one winter period will be sampled. The results will be interpreted in the light of simultaneous isoprene measurements (a major biogenic precursor) and will provide guidance as to the degree to which summertime PM can be controlled.

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CSIRO Energy Technology
Sustainable energy planning to reduce environment impacts
Grant: $199,800

This proposal aims to develop a procedure for optimising the deployment of distributed generation sources within the Sydney airshed in terms of minimising air quality impacts as well as greenhouse gas emissions. The project will use detailed predictions of generation technologies using a partial equilibrium model of the stationary energy and transport sectors. Optimal sitting of technologies in the Sydney region will be determined through the use of a GIS framework taking into account variables such as population density, resource location and social acceptance. Air quality impacts of the technology forecasts will be determined through the application of sophisticated regional and local air quality models.

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Assisted colonization to maintain and restore grassland ecosystems
Grant: $100,000

Previous landscape changes, together with projected climate change means that many native plants may be threatened by their inability to disperse and adjust their distribution to new locations. In addition, many species that are already sparse may need new populations to establish viable numbers and spread the risk of local extinctions. Our project will provide a framework to understand the circumstances in which human-assisted establishment of threatened plants at new sites might be helpful for conservation. We will address the why, when, what and how of assisted colonization within the grassy vegetation of the NSW tablelands and slopes. In addition to identifying policy implications, the project will provide practical guidelines for land managers who are interested in maintaining or increasing biodiversity in landscapes supporting grassy woodlands.

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Conservation management under climate change
Grant: $99,426

Future management of biodiversity will require explicit consideration of the impacts of climate change. Current predictions of these impacts on species distributions/persistence largely ignore species interactions and the significant underlying variability in yearly climate. In this project we develop models for the coastal fauna of NSW that include species responses to climatic variability as well as the effects of species interactions (for example impacts of introduced species on native species). The models will contribute to the development of appropriate management strategies that account for species interactions and the changes in climatic variability that are likely to be associated with climate change.

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Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW
Assessing the vulnerability of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise
Grant: $98,980

Coastal wetlands (mangrove and salt marsh) are sentinel indicators of the ecological impacts of sea-level rise, being located within narrow elevation bands dictated by tidal inundation frequency. This project will assess the vulnerability and adaptability of mangrove and salt marsh wetlands to sea-level rise. The project achieve this by firstly measuring the response of wetlands to sea-level change over the past 10 years. Secondly, high resolution elevation surveys will be used to model landscape-scale responses of mangrove and salt marsh to a range of sea-level rise scenarios. Finally, maps will be produced showing the forecast distribution of mangrove and salt marsh under a range of sea-level scenarios for selected estuaries in NSW.

Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS)
Expatriation of tropical fishes to nsw: climate change effects
Grant: $95,066

The NSW coast is a global hot spot for climate change effects on our oceans and estuaries (Cai et al. 2005, Ridgeway 2007), and how this will affect coastal marine communities and fisheries is poorly understood. Climate changes will occur through increasing ocean temperatures and strengthening of the East Australian Current (EAC) in our region, driving cool temperate fisheries south from NSW and possibly shift ranges of northern species into NSW. We will consolidate a 7 year data set of changes in distribution patterns of warm-water reef fishes along the NSW coast, conduct aquarium experiments on the response of these fishes to warmer waters, and synthesise results in a predictive model to identify the ramifications of climate change on range shifts of these tropical and other coastal benthic fishes in this region.

University of Newcastle
Understanding micro-evolutionary responses to disturbances
Grant: $16,875

This project evaluates the potential for micro-evolutionary processes to act to mitigate the impact of human induced disturbance. Biodiversity management strategies usually assume that species are genetically static units, however many plants are genetically dynamic when subject to disturbance. A modeling approach will be developed to model genetic introgression in a framework that incorporates stochastic disturbance to a population. The output from this project will be a new generic modeling approach that potentially can inform a diverse range of management strategies. For example, emerging approaches to dealing with climate change may be fundamentally flawed under assumptions of genetic stasis. The project will also examine the interactions of disturbance types, these interactions may be particularly important, but frequently disturbances are considered in isolation.

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University of Sydney
Restoring the ecosystem: storage of carbon in soil by microbes
Grant: $99,990

Soil degradation is a major global problem. Current processes for restoration of ecosystems, including revegetation, are only partially effective in returning soils to a productive state because of the unpredictable return of organic carbon. Microbes play a major role in organic processes, including carbon breakdown and transformation of carbon to stable forms. This project will select fungi that express stable carbon. The contribution of selected fungi to carbon sequestration in soil will be quantified initially in the laboratory and then in field experiments within a revegetation experiment at a mine site in the upper Hunter Valley.

University of Wollongong
'Sponge Watch': assessing the utility of sponges as biomonitors
Grant: $19,909

Mussel watch has been a highly effective North American program designed to monitor trace elements in marine environments. Local government are seeking to institute similar programs in NSW, but this would likely require the use of non-indigenous mussels and organisms associated with them. Sponges would appear to be excellent candidates for the biomonitoring of trace metals in aquatic systems; they are sessile, indigenous to the areas of interest, can be readily transplanted and their modular construction promises to reduce individual variation among samples. This project will examine trace metal accumulation for common sponges, including their transplantation to contaminated locations.

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Page last updated: 27 February 2011