Current Projects

2018 Projects

Research Grants

Artificial tree hollows—thinking outside the box

Abstract Tree hollows are a critical resource for animals worldwide, yet widespread habitat loss has drastically reduced the availability of large trees and tree hollows. Within Australia, tree hollows provide important habitat for more than 15% of vertebrate fauna as well as a range of invertebrates. Since these structures take a minimum of 80 years to form, populations of many animals are becoming increasingly reliant on nest boxes and other artificial structures. However, the effectiveness of nest boxes as even a short-term solution to tree hollow availability is questionable due to short lifespan, high microclimate variation, limited understanding of species requirements, inappropriate nest box design and ongoing maintenance required. In this collaboration between ILWS and CSU Engineering, we will use in-depth knowledge of target species to prototype, field test and manufacture 3D printed plastic hollows that are anticipated to have comparable thermal properties, longevity and internal dimensions as natural hollows.

Project Contact:  Prof. David Watson                                           Funding  $9,856

How does behaviour influence the survival and fitness of Murray Cod in the Murray-Darling river system?

Abstract This project will allow a new interdisciplinary research team to build a track record of innovative research linking individual animal behaviour to local biodiversity challenges. We will address the low rate of survival of juvenile Murray Cod. Juvenile mortality is the major contributor to the current population decline in this species. Animals, including fish, naturally adopt behavioural traits that help balance the need to avoid predation, yet acquire food necessary for growth and survival. These critical behavioural traits for survival are usually considered along a “bold/shy” spectrum. “Bold” traits allow animals to maximise food acquisition but are high risk, whereas “shy” traits reduce predation risk but also reduce food acquisition.  Knowledge gained from this project will 1) inform decision-making on how rivers should be managed to maintain sustainable populations of Murray Cod and 2) contribute to the development of fish hatchery management practices which enhance post-release survival.

Project Contact: A/Prof. Raf Freire                                              Funding $7,320

A study of the biodiversity and abundance of free-living bioluminescent bacteria in coastal waters around Camden Haven and the Camden Haven river.

Abstract Organisms producing light (bioluminescence) are common in nature and bioluminescent bacteria are common flora in the oceans, seas and estuaries of the world. Bioluminescent bacteria maybe biological indicators of water quality and can be free living or associated with marine organisms like fish and squid.  To ensure sustainability of water (of oceans and rivers) biodiversity of organisms and their numbers need to be benchmarked for monitoring. Changes in biodiversity including reduction or changes in species can be indicators of changes in populations of predators, pollution or indeed climate change. This preliminary project is aimed at quantifying the abundance and biodiversity of this unique class of microorganism around the beaches and estuary of the Camden Haven River on the Mid North Coast. A survey of the organisms will be conducted by sampling water from beaches around North Haven and Dunbogan and at various locations in the Camden Haven river catchment. Identification of the species and number of bioluminescent bacteria will conducted using standard microbiological and molecular techniques.

Project Contact:  Dr. Nigel Urwin                                                     Funding $8,300

Project Grants

Purchase of Winery Pallet Sheets

Objective: Current work practices in the winery see wines filled, labelled and boxed, then moved to either the Warehouse for storage or to Cellar Door (approx. 200m) where they are then unboxed for use or sale. These boxes are then thrown away, creating  unnecessary waste.
The pallet sheeting intended to be purchased via this grant is reusable, with an expected life span of at least 15 years.
Benefits of implementing Cella-Stac into our production cycle include reduced wastage, improved OH&S and labour savings.
Another possible option of reusing the boxes is not ideal as boxes are bulky and subject to damage by dust and rodents when not in
use. The continual re-use of boxes would see them become shabby over time and discarded. These plastic pallet sheets are a much
more compact, easily stored and durable, long term solution for continual reuse.

For more information contact CSU Winery                                 Project Funding $5,000

Albury Wodonga Campus Historical Photos

Objective: This project will digitise and catalogue a series of historically significant photographs that document the development of the Albury-Wodonga Campus at Thurgoona, covering the period c. 1996-2004.Charles Sturt University's adjunct Professor David Mitchell was instrumental in supporting the innovative design of the university's Albury­ Wodonga campus grounds and buildings at Thurgoona, and in particular the wetlands that enable grey water to be reused on campus. These award-winning wetlands are widely lauded, as is the sustainable design of the campus buildings.Prof Mitchell has a unique and incredibly valuable collection of photographs which date back to the beginning of the campus in 1996. Once digitised  and catalogued,  these  images,  along with  the oral history already  recorded  with  Prof  Mitchell will  be available  to CSU  staff and students, (including as part of the School of Environmental Sciences subjects relating to wetlands management), and the wider community in Albury-Wodonga.

For more information contact Wayne Doubleday                          Project Funding:  $5,000

360° Immersive Biodiversity Project

Objective: This project builds on CSU Green’s photopoint monitoring work conducted by student Luke Gregory between 2015-17.
The aim of this project is to provide 360° video vision that shows a snapshot of vegetation and landscape changes over
time (three years) in the conditions the selected points in the CSU Wagga Wagga biodiversity zones. In particular three
sites will be chosen at the top, middle and bottom of the catchment to highlight the seasonal changes in the landscape in
the middle of summer (Dec-Feb) in contrast to the middle of winter (June-July). Vision will provide vital monitoring
evidence over time. There’s potential for this methodology to be replicated on other campuses in an effort to monitor the
effectiveness of management strategies in maximising biodiversity values.

For more information contact  Andrew Hagan                               Project Funding:  $14,784

Port Macquarie Sustainability Showcase

Objective:The Port Macquarie Campus Environmental Committee in collaboration with the Port Macquarie Sustainability Network
(PMHSN) would like to host a Regional Sustainability Expo and Showcase on March 1st and 2nd 2019 at the Port
Macquarie Racecourse. The PMHSN is a group composed of local people who champion various aspects of
sustainability. The event will be auspiced by Charles Sturt University (CSU). It is supported by the Port Macquarie
Hastings Council. We are inviting local and regional organisations and businesses to display at the expo and contribute
to conference sessions and workshops throughout the two days on how they are contributing to sustainability. The expo
will have multiple themes including Food, Climate, Transport, Social, Land Management and Waste Management. The
target audience is the general public and entrance will be by gold coin donation. The Campus Environmental Committee
will run the Food and Agriculture part of the expo and play a major role in the organisation and financial management of
the rest of the showcase.

For more information contact  Nigel Urwin                                     Project Funding:  $5,100

Grass Roots Grants

Coles Reusable Bag RacksPort Macquarie$444
Boomerang BagsWagga Wagga$1,000
David Mitchell Wetlands VideoAlbury-Wodonga$800
Stargazing live Port Macquarie$1,000
Campus Gardens and Organic WasteWagga Wagga$1,000
PM Return and EarnPort Macquarie$720
Trialing battery operated garden toolsBathurst$868

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