Project summaries - 2011 Environmental Research - major grants

2011 Environmental Research - major grants
OrganisationCategoryProject titleAmount $

NSW Department of Primary Industries

Integrated landscape managementThe adaptive capacity of native shrub-herbaceous legume populations


Macquarie University

Climate change - socialImpacts of climate change on aeroallergens and allergic diseases


Macquarie University

Climate change - biophysicalRemote sensing of temperature profiles in coastal and inland waters


Macquarie University

Climate change - biophysicalUnderstanding and predicting southward range expansions of corals


NSW Office of Water

Climate change - biophysicalImpact of climate projections on water availability and adaptation


University of New South Wales

Integrated landscape managementThe role of vegetation structure in dampening climate extremes


University of Technology

Environmental pollution

The effect of pollution on marine macrophytes in New South Wales


7 Projects 



Department of Primary Industries
The adaptive capacity of native shrub-herbaceous legume populations

Revegetation activities have most often focussed on planting trees. Native shrubs and herbaceous legumes have often been overlooked though they can be re-introduced relatively easily into agricultural landscapes. Incorporating these plants into low-input and resilient grazing systems would produce a number of biodiversity benefits, namely increased ground cover, creation of habitat for biodiversity, shelter for native animals and connections between habitats as well as other benefits such as fodder, nitrogen fixation and carbon sequestration. We know too little of the genetics, physiology and agronomy of this group of plants to make informed choices about how to employ them for those benefits. This study will address those knowledge gaps and provide information about their within and between population genetic variation and their response to stresses such as acidity, salinity, heat and fertility. Landscape associations between genetic variation and response to stresses will be documented.

Macquarie Univeristy
Impacts of climate change on aeroallergens and allergic diseases

Climate change poses a serious threat to our health. Increases in carbon dioxide and temperature are resulting in increases in allergens such as pollen, and therefore threaten people with asthma and hay fever. This project aims to position New South Wales to adapt to this threat and avoid the harm it might cause. Expected outcomes of the research will be recommendations for a New South Wales Aeroallergen Monitoring Network, and modification to planting and management policies regarding allergenic plants.

Macquarie University
Remote sensing of temperature profiles in coastal and inland waters

From a climate change perspective, salinity and temperature profiles in waterways are critical parameters but these measurements are often difficult and expensive to obtain. Our goal is to implement an optical-based technique to enable rapid vertical profiling of water temperature and salinity. There is presently no standard method for achieving this. Such a profiling capability will deliver new knowledge that can be applied to a host of environmental issues in coastal and freshwater environments. Examples include providing inputs to validate hydrologic modelling of water circulation, assessing waterway health and providing habitat information about plant/animal species in waterways. The direct measurement capability proposed here will also enable modelling to be validated and improved. This large grant proposal builds on a Seeding Grant provided previously by the Environmental Trust.

Macquarie University
Understanding and predicting southward range expansions of corals

NSW is a global hotspot for climate change, but little is known of how marine plants and animals will respond. With a focus on reef corals, we will investigate the ecology of bottom-dwelling populations using permanent transects at five locations spanning the NSW coastline. This ecological data will be combined with experiments and a database of coral life histories to identify characteristics associated with southward expansions of tropical species and their potential influence on NSW populations. The project will provide information for marine resource managers who need to develop strategies to cope with projected changes in coastal habitats.

Office of Water
Impact of climate projections on water availability and adaptation

One likely significant impact of climate change in NSW is changing rainfall and evaporation. This has implications for flow regimes and overall water resource management. Robust assessment of this impact is essential to develop appropriate adaptive responses by government agencies, industry and communities. This project will assess future water availability for selected inland NSW river systems under current water management practices using climate projections based on three alternate methods. This approach will identify the uncertainty of scientific methods on potential water management outcomes such as environmental flows to wetlands.

University of New South Wales
The role of vegetaion structure in dampening climate extremes

It is well-known that a dense foliage canopy can reduce exposure to extreme temperatures, yet the buffering effect of understorey vegetation has been poorly studied. Since management activities such as revegetation and controlled burning can significantly modify the structure of habitats, there is a pressing need to understand how these activities affect local climate, and in-turn, biodiversity. This project will quantify the relative contribution of different layers to inform land managers on how best to buffer against climate change and further improve planning tools developed as part of the NSW threat abatement strategy for climate change.

University of Technology
The effect of pollution on marine macrophytes in New South Wales

NSW is experiencing unprecedented losses of marine macrophytes from shallow coastal ecosystems (eg. Phyllospora comosa) and the emergence of species with invasive characteristics (eg. Caulerpa filiformis). Changes are particularly apparent around Sydney and regions with high population density with well known pollution issues from nutrients and contaminants from sources such as sewage and stormwater. Despite competing hypotheses for Caulerpa’s expansion and Phyllospora’s decline, the most obvious and testable is that the observed changes are pollution driven. This project will determine the role of coastal nutrient pollution in the loss of native species and spread of highly adaptive species in NSW.

Back to top

Page last updated: 12 October 2011