Despite the disruptions being caused by COVID-19, Professor David Watson has been able to continue his long-term study monitoring birds in Sturt National Park in the arid, far north-western corner of NSW. Transect surveys recording bird species richness have been conducted along four ephemeral creek lines - Arcoola Creek, Mistletoe Creek, Stud Creek and Thompson Creek- in the south-eastern corner of the park every winter, every year (with the exception of 2005 and 2013) since the study on bird distributional dynamics in arid landscapes commenced in 2003.
Normally the mid-year trip coincides with the annual student trip for the subject Principles of Field Ecology with Dave, technical staff and 20 to 23 students across various degree programs. While this year's annual "desert trip" for students was postponed, Dave,technical officer Matt Gill, Institute Adjunct Dr Helen Waudby, and “long-time helper on the desert trips” Gary Phillips, a former ornithology degree student were able to undertake a week-long field trip in July.
David has been able to “value-add” to the study with the installation of four acoustic recording sensors (acoustic monitoring stations) in 2014, one at each of the creek lines. This was done as part of the ARC Discovery grant project Bio-Acoustic Observatory: Engaging Birdwatchers to Monitor Biodiversity by Collaboratively Collecting and Analysing Big Audio Data. Roe, P., Brereton, M., & Watson, D, M. (2014-2017). The acoustic monitoring stations at Sturt National Park (all bar one of the original devices which is still functionally well) were replaced last year with updated models, developed as part of the ARC LIEF project Acoustic Observatory: a network to monitor biodiversity across Australia (2017-2020) led by Queensland University of Technology with ILWS team members Watson, D., Luck, G. & Nimmo, D.
While in the field the team successfully completed their surveys, retrieved the data from the acoustic recorders and checked/maintained the acoustic monitoring stations. Sturt National Park was one of the three sites that the team visited. They also maintained and retrieved data from the four sensors installed last year at Toorale National Park near Bourke and established a new site at Binya State Forest, near Leeton, where David has been doing work on mistletoe and mistletoe birds for a long time.
Indigenous health researcher Associate Faye McMillan is currently involved in a Commonwealth funded project, led by the University of Newcastle called SISTAQUIT, (Supporting Indigenous Smokers to Assist Quitting). The project aims to improve health providers’ skills when offering smoking cessation care to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It is based on the mid-north coast of NSW.
Institute Adjunct Professor David Goldney's current field research includes a long term assessment of the impacts of longwall mining on amphibian populations on the Woronora Plateau and the status of platypus in the rivers and creeks of the upper Macquarie catchment.
Institute Adjunct Dr Richard Loyn, Director of Eco Insights, has completed a project on birds in flood-plain woodlands in the Mallee region, as part of a long-term program. Loyn, R., Eyles, D. and Cheers, G. (2020) Birds in Black Box woodlands and associated habitats along the Murray River from Hattah-Kulkyne NP to Lindsay Island, spring 2019 to autumn 2020. Client report for the Mallee CMA by Eco Insights.
Institute Adjunct Associate Professor Bruce Pennay, an historian, is one of the key drivers behind efforts by the Albury and District Historical Society to have editions of the Border Mail, from 1873 to 1946, digitalised and added to the Trove History website. So far 51,000 pages had been included on the site. CSU has contributed funding to this project.
The Riverina Skills Audit project, which is led by Professor Oliver Burmeister, is being undertaken in collaboration with Regional Development Australia- Riverina NSW, and funded through a $25,000 Agripark – Collaborative Research Agreement.
In 2017 Regional Development Australia (RDA) - Riverina commissioned a report to investigate skills issues in the horticulture industry of the Riverina. This project builds on that work with a broader study to investigate current and future skills shortages, focussing on significant industries across the Riverina. Agriculture is the leading industry in the Riverina accounting for 13.3% of jobs and 27.3% of small business. Understanding the nature of current and future skills shortages within the agriculture industry and other significant industries in the region is essential to ensuring a sustainable supply of skills in the Riverina now and into the future.
The study has reviewed the existing evidence and data and the targeted data is being collected from businesses, industry and employment and training service providers in conjunction with community consultation to assess the current and potential future skills shortages in the Riverina.
An ILWS research team led by Associate Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko is teaming up with academic colleagues from the University of South Australia (UniSA) to work jointly on a project The social, cultural; and economic impacts that humanitarian migrant communities can have on receiving communities – A case study of Hazara Afghans in Leeton Shire, NSW.
This year the UniSA researchers secured about $14,858 from their university’s Partnering Scheme for the above project and Branka was successful in securing about $14,500 in Team Research support from ILWS to work with UniSA colleagues towards potential competitive grant development around the theme: Evaluation of the resettlement of refugees/humanitarian immigrants into small regional centres in Riverina.
The project will draw on the benefit of genuine University-community partnerships and will involve intensive engagement with key stake-holders in the community such as the Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga and local government representatives, in exploring the impact of refugee settlement using a case study of Leeton.
The findings from a research project which sought the perspective of service providers and carers with respect to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been shared with the Government’s Boosting the Local Care Workforce (BLCW) and disseminated by 33 specialist and regional coordinators across Australia.
(The BLCW program, funded by the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health, aims to develop the capacity of disability and aged care service providers to operate effectively and expand their workforce.)
The Exploring the transition to the NDIS in Western NSW region:Service provider and carer perspectives (2017-2019) project, led by Dr Jodie Kleinschafer, received some initial ILWS funding and was part of a much larger longitudinal study Exploring the Implementation of the NDIS in the Western NSW Region (2016-2019). This larger project received $8000 in external funding from the Association for Consumer Research’s in an internationally competitive grant focused on transformative consumer research.
The project's key findings were:
Institute Adjunct Dr Wes Ward has a project underway investigating why and how people and institutions collaborate to address opportunities and issues in NRM in regional Australia, and to identify how these collaborative relations can be nurtured and supported. Current work includes case studies with ILWS, North East Catchment Management Authority (VIC) and the National Agricultural Productivity and Reconciliation Ecology Centre (NSW).
Dr Damian Michael’s Honours student, Emma Stevens, has embarked on a project to investigate the distribution and habitat preferences of the endangered Grey Snake Hemiapsis damelii (IUCN) in the lower Murrumbidgee region, NSW.
Dr Belinda Cash is involved in an innovative program, the Leadership in Healthy Ageing program, which has been designed to teach leaders of health and aged care services in North East Victoria about the latest research findings in that space. She is also the Deputy Lead of the University’s new cross faculty Ageing Well Research Group which includes some 30 academics across the University.
Dr Jonathon Howard in partnership with the Inland Rivers Network has developed a citizen science website where concerned community members can record and show where major fish deaths have occurred in the Murray Darling Basin. The website site http://bit.ly/fish-kill-map was launched in June. Jonathon describes the site as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the community. People can can lodge different types of reports: ‘verified reports’ that map the location and photographic evidence; ‘non-verified’ reports that lack the photographic evidence; and ‘media reports’ for those events not-directly observed.
A pilot study, which was supported by an ILWS minor equipment grant, is underway in Orange. The study, led by Professor Kevin Parton, is in response to concerns about wood-smoke pollution during the winter months in Orange. A new low-cost electronic particle counter which can measure the most health damaging particles, PM2.5 and PM 10, has been taking hourly readings, both inside and outside residences since April this year. The researchers are hoping to secure funding to develop the pilot study into a full-scale study to clarify the level of particulate pollution in Orange, to compare indoor with outdoor levels, and hence obtain a clearer picture of health effects.
Dr Jen Bond, a member of the Hume Regional Deer Forum, has secured $9953 from CSU Green for the project Oh deer: exploring the narratives of human-deer conflict in North Eastern Victoria. The project will involve a desk-top study utilising historical, media and social media data, as the basis of empirical research with key informants in the deer management space. The project is a scoping study for a broader human-deer conflict project.
Institute Adjunct Professor Peter Waterman, in line with the 2014 SEGRA Challenge: Sustaining Remore Regional Towns and Communities, and the 2017 SEGRA Challenge: Regional Knowledge Hubs & Linking Education, Training and Workplaces,
In collaboration with a school colleague, Dr Jessie Lymm, who is interested in fringe publications, or "zines", is working with The Bidgee School at Wagga which has a Wagga Wagga City Council grant to run a workshop in 2019 around youth literacy and non-traditional publications. “A former student has also got some money to run a zine fair in Wagga so it will tie in nicely with that,” says Jessie. Another project, with a Masters student, is to to build a digital library of the student media publications from CSU and its pre-curser institutions. “This one is also focused on non-traditional media in a regional setting,” says Jessie. This project has received $8000 in CSU Student Services Amenities Fee funding.
Dr Jessie Lymm is collaborating with the Museum of the Riverina on its history projects about LGBTIQA+ memory in Wagga Wagga and the surrounding region. “There’s been some papers come out of that and an exhibition, and I’ve developed some great partnerships with the museum,” says Jessie. “This has now extended to partnerships with the Hunter region – a gay history community group- and the Lismore region.” Following on from this work, along with colleagues from the Melbourne, Newcastle and Lismore, Jessie took part in a panel discussion at the Queer Legacies, New Solidarities conference, November 22-24, Deakin Downtown, Melbourne, around the value of regional LGBTIQA+ collections. The conference was presented by Deakin Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association & the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
Dr Jessie Lymm, Paul Grover from the School of Education, and Institute Adjunct Associate Professor Bruce Pennay secured a $10,000 CSU Learning and Teaching Grant this year to develop not only curriculum material but a 3D walkthrough of the Bonegilla Migrant Experience, near Albury-Wodonga. “This will create a different type of access to an important regional space for memory,” says Jessie. “I’m really interested in this idea of our national memory not just resting in national institutions like the National Archives and the National Library but in regional institutions such as the Albury Wodonga Library Museum, the Bonegilla Migrant Experience and the Museum of the Riverina."
Dr Alexandra Knight and Associate Professor Ben Wilson are working with landholders from the Corowa District Landcare Group and the Holbrook Landcare Group to investigate the soil habitats that burrowing frogs use and the relationship between soil health and burrowing habitats. The project Sustaining soils and earth-dwelling fauna in cropping and farming landscapes of the Murray-Darling Basin is funded by a $10,000 CSU Sustainability Research Seed Grant. It aims to find correlations between agricultural production practices and sustaining soil habitats for macrofauna, particularly the diverse range of burrowing amphibians which occur on private lands throughout the MDB. It will involve testing soil characteristics at sites known to contain populations of suitable macrofauna, and interviews with farmers to determine how farming practices sustain both soil health and amphibian populations.
The project team for the Women in Regional Trades: Understanding Resilience project hosted an industry consultation in Wagga Wagga on April 11.The study, which has received funding from the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences, is being conducted by ILWS members Dr Donna Bridges, Dr Larissa Bamberry and Associate Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, together with Dr Stacey Jenkins and Research Assistant Dr Elizabeth Wulf. The project is investigating why some women prosper in traditionally male-dominated occupations and industries while others do not. Another industry consultation meeting was held in Bathurst, May 10, with a third industry consultation meeting held in Albury, October 12. This event had 27 attendees - including five tradeswomen and women apprentices from the local area; Training Services Australia; Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT); Albury City Council; Sarina Russo Apprenticeships; SafeWork NSW; TAFE; Regional Development Australia; small business representatives in the automotive, painting and decorating and carpentry areas. Also, as part of the project which started in February, the research team have run focus groups interviewing women working in the trades as well as representatives from government, TAFE and employers.
A research team led by Associate Professor Maree Bernoth has conducted a year-long project focused on encouraging the inclusion of older people in teaching ageing. The project, OPTEACH (Older People Teaching and Empowering Aged Care and Health Students) has been funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. A website has been developed which contains information and support material for older people, educators (TAFE, university, clinical) and managers to encourage and support them as they introduce older people to teaching and learning situations. The project was conducted in partnership with Nambucca Valley Care, Navorina Nursing Home in Deniliquin, Holy Spirit Nursing home in Dubbo and Riverina Institute of TAFE.
Following Drs James Van Dyke and Geoff Heard’s $8000 CSUGreen Sustainability grant (awarded last June) Project Lifeboat: a conservation plan for declining turtles, the team have completed this autumn’s turtle assessment at the CSU Albury campus.
Dr Alexandra Knight together with the Corowa District Landcare Group have received a $40,000 grant from the NSW Environment Trust, for the project "Sounding the Chorus for Frogs in Corowa’s Wetlands. "The project involves recording the Sloane’s Froglet song (which Alexandra wrote); developing a teachers’ education package based on good scientific evidence; visits by scientists to six schools in the Corowa district over the next two years; and wetland planting days with scientists, including Alexandra, presenting.
Institute Adjunct Professor Peter Waterman is one of the main researchers behind the Secure Safe Domestic Water project, now in its third year. In February and March, Peter spoke at public meetings and workshops in Far West NSW (Broken Hill, Thyme on Argent, White Cliffs, Wilcannia, Menindee, Pooncarie and station properties) on the importance of all Australians having access to adequate and safe domestic water.
Associate Professor Dirk Spennemann is investigating the lives (and deaths) of Indian hawkers in the Southern Riverina and North-East Victoria in the late 1900s and early 2000s.
Associate Professor Maree Bernoth is involved in a 12 month project funded by a NSW Family and Community Services “Liveable Communities” grant, to investigate the inclusion of older people in the teaching of ageing with industry partner Naorina Village, Deniliquin.
Institute Adjunct Professor Jay Punthakey is working on a project in the mid North coast of NSW looking at improving water supply to various coastal communities.
Since 2014 Institute Adjunct Richard Loyn has been researching the effects of flooding on black box woodlands in North West Victoria for the Mallee CMA as part of the Living Murray Initiative. In 2017 the study was expanded to include waterbirds and bush birds as part of a project with La Trobe University and MDRFC.
As part of the ‘Building knowledge of Country and measuring its health’ project funded by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, ILWS and CSU's Faculty of Science, community workshops were held in Griffith, Deniliquin and Moama. These information sessions provided an opportunity for CSU researchers and NPWS to meet with Indigenous communities and explore with them various aspects of Country and why environmental monitoring is important. These information sessions are the first in a three phase project and use rich pictures/mapping to understand how the communities interact with Country and see themselves working on Country into the future.
The second phase of the project will involve field sessions on Country, discussing particular environmental monitoring principles, ideas and exploring opportunities for future Indigenous environmental monitoring.
The third phase of the project will draw on these community exploration processes to co-develop training resources that equip communities for the aspects of environmental monitoring that they highlighted as important to them.
Professor of Rural Health, Linda Shields is involved in planning meetings to set up a longitudinal study of families living in rural areas. Partners of the proposed study will be CSU (lead), University of Sydney Rural Medical School and Notre Dame School of Rural Medicine. The study is being supported by the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy at UQ
Professor Dave Watson is leading a project in Melbourne which is part of the City of Melbourne's long-term management plan for its land and assets. The city is running a world-first trial in which creeping mistletoe seeds have been planted on 27 plane trees in downtown Melbourne. Creeping mistletoe is one of the few Australian mistletoes that can live off exotic hosts such as plane trees. Dave's former Masters student, Mel Cook from UTS, is involved in the project.
Murray River PIT Tagging. Baumgartner, L., McPherson, J. KarlTek Pty Ltd & Australasian Fish Passage Services (Adjunct Tim Marsden) (2020) MDBA, $17,693
In June two electro-fishing teams (from ILWS and Ecology Australia) were funded by the Murray Darling Basin Authority to PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag native fish in the River Murray below Mildura. Over a period of 10 days, a total of 571 Native fish were PIT Tagged ranging from 120mm to 1.18 metres. A combination of Golden Perch, Murray cod and Silver perch were tagged. PIT tagging the fish allows the MDBA to continue monitoring fish movement along the River Murray and assess the performance of the Sea to Hume Fishways.
In 2001, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (now Murray-Darling Basin Authority) initiated a program to improve fish passage to over 2000 km of the Murray River, from the sea to Hume Dam, by constructing 14 new fishways. A monitoring and assessment program was established to determine if the reinstatement of passage was providing benefits to fish communities in the Murray-Darling Basin with the first micro-chip readers installed at Lock 8 on the Murray in 2003.
In 2012 a state-of-the-art PIT monitoring system was finalised to help to determine if the reinstatement of fish passage was providing benefits to the Murray–Darling Basin fish communities. The PIT system involved installing detection antennas within each of the 14 new fishways, and PIT tagging wild native fish to assess their movements along the river. The systems scan for tagged fish, several times per second, every day of the year and have now been operating almost continuously for ten years.
Underpinning the effectiveness of the PIT system is a cloud-based databased (FishNet) which collects transmitted data from the PIT system on a daily basis. All PIT tagged fish were added to the FishNet database which contains the details of over 40,000 PIT tagged native fish since 2001. Since then ILWS has been involved in a number of small projects associated with analysing and interpreting the data including the ANDS Collection Enhancement Project. Finlayson, M. (2017) Monash University, $30,000 and then the PIT tag data analysis project. Huang, X., Baumgartner, L., and Li, J. (2018-2019) Karltek Pty Ltd., $25,000.
One of the conclusions from recent studies is that there is not enough tagged fish left in the river, fewer than 10,000 fish as over the last few years a lot of the tagged fish have just got old and have naturally died, or been caught by fishermen. The researchers recommended that the MDBA initiate some tagging to restore numbers of tagged fish so that the collection of important data about fish movement along the river and how the fish are using the fishways continues.
Indigenous health researcher Associate Professor Faye McMillian is a Chief Investigator for two current projects (not led by CSU), namely:
In 2019 year Dr Luiz Silva and Dr Katie Doyle received ILWS Team grant funding for the project Unraveling the effects of wildfire on freshwater ecosystems in Australia and its impacts on social environmental components, the aim of which was to trigger and develop a new research area within the Institute. Other members of the new multi-disciplinary research group include Associate Professor Dale Nimmo, Dr Paul Humphries, Dr Gavin Rees (CSIRO) and Dr Ana Horta.
Members of the new research group who had already begun reading the literature and exploring some of the issues around the theme when Australia experienced the devastating bushfires over the 2019/2020 bushfire season. As a result they were able to provide expert opinion to the media.
As part of developing the new research group Luiz, in partnership with American collaborators, organised a Symposium around fire resilience and the impact of fire on both terrestrial and freshwater resources at the American Fish Society Conference, in Reno, Nevada, in September last year. The conference was jointly organised with the Wildlife Society, the first time that has happened. The symposium generated a lot of interest and a review paper highlighting the main outcomes of the symposium is being developed.
Dr Andrew Peters, together with Prof Anna Meredith of UMelb, Dr Scott Carver of UTas, Dr Lee Skerratt of UMelb, and Dr Rupert Woods of Wildlife Health Australia, are leading an initiative to establish a new Australian Wildlife Health Institute. In line with that Andrew helped facilitate a workshop, at the invitation of the Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer of Australia, in Melbourne on November 14. The workshop was a high-level strategic meeting to pave the way for a funding proposal in 2020.
CSU Engineering has initiated a PFAS research collaboration to develop a local solution for the PFAS (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances) issue. The CSU Engineering PFAS Team initially received $27,000 funding in October 2018 from the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences’ research support scheme for a pilot project, Identify best possible solvent and its efficiency to wash PFAS from contaminated soil. Since October 2018, the team (Drs Reza Mahinroosta, Miao Li & Lala Senevirathna) has taken a number of samples and conducted various sample analyses utilising the NaLSH Hub (National Life Sciences Hub) at the Wagga Wagga campus. The project was completed at the end of July 2019 with Dr Saeed Shaeri helping finalise the project.
“We found the best solvent that can be added to PFAS contaminated sandy soil to wash PFAS from the soil environment,” says Reza. “This has been tested by using a column test simulating the real soil sample. “The percentage of the solvent in relation to water was also optimised through this project. This project was the first step in determining an integrated remediation method for PFAS in both soil and water environment using a soil flushing technique.”
In terms of PFAS remediation from soil, a paper has been published : Mahinroosta, R., & Senevirathna, L. (2020). A review of the emerging treatment technologies for PFAS contaminated soils. Journal of Environmental Management, 255, 109896, and the team have secured further funding, $16,500, from the Bathurst Regional Council, to continue their research in this area for the project, Long term prediction of PFAS profile in the soil and its possible pathway into groundwater (a case study), which will be finished by the end of July 2020.
A new CSU funded research project on Adoption of energy efficiency options by co-operatives and non-for profits in regional Australia the researchers Associate Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, Dr Felicity Small and Dr Jahanzeb Kahn is underway.
Since 2012 Dr Wayne Robinson has been working with former CSU student, Matt Herring, on a research project looking to better understand the endangered Australasian bittern (also known as the Bunyip bird). Surveys of bitterns in the Riverina region (Murrumbidgee and Coleambally irrigation areas) commenced in 2012. Matt works closely with rice growers to do the surveys (from December through to February) as the paddocks planted to rice change year to year and his survey sample has to be designed accordingly. Wayne’s role (voluntary) in the research project is the analysis of the data from the surveys. The research is supported by Charles Darwin University and Riverina Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, and the National Environmental Science Program through the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.The project is part of the wider Bitterns in Rice project which includes satellite tracking of tagged birds. The total population of Australasian bitterns, a globally endangered species, is estimated at 1000-2500 adults, with the numbers of birds using the rice crops in the Riverina during the breeding season estimated at 500-1000. Over the next four years a bittern-friendly rice growing incentive program will be rolled out. Fledging rates will be monitored with the assistance of a thermal drone. The researchers are also exploring consumer values and the feasibility of bittern-friendly rice products, and developing novel water and conservation policy options for multi-purpose use.
Dr Adam Frew and Dr Jodi Price have a new research project looking at elevated CO2, [a climate change impact] and the impact on mycorrhizal-plant-insect interactions looking at different Australian native plant species. That work will be done in collaboration with Dr Maarja Öpik at the University of Tartu in Estonia that Adam will visit for six weeks in September to undertake much of the molecular work associated with the project.
Dr Maggie Watson is leading two ILWS funded team pilot projects researching conditioned taste aversion (CTA). They are:
For the sugar glider project the team, which includes Dr Dejan Stojanovic from ANU, are doing a trial in Tasmania, where predation by sugar gliders is a real problem, to see if the gliders can be trained to think eggs taste bad. For the dingoes project, Maggie is working with NSW National Parks personnel in Port Macquarie with a CTA trial is underway.
Professor David Watson is leading a one year CSU Green funded project (nearly $10,000) Artificial tree hollows - thinking outside the box that is developing and trialling a new type of nesting box expected to perform better under extreme climate conditions than current wooden boxes. The team, a collaboration between ILWS and CSU Engineering is using detailed knowledge of target species to develop, field test and manufacture different 3D printed artificial tree hollows.
Institute Adjunct Professor Peter Waterman continued research activities associated with the Securing Safe Domestic Water (SSDW) project, which has came out of the SEGRA Challenge: Securing Adequate Safe Domestic Water for Rural and Regional Australia. In 2018 the project received a further $3500 ILWS Team Support to embed SSDW within the emerging regional development agenda of the Balranald Shire Council.
Dr Tahmid Nayeem has a small research project funded by CenWest and a small company called WabiSabie, a company which gives people the opportunity to customise their message before they pass away. He is helping it with the redesign of its website and target market.
Dr Tahmid Nayeem is involved in two social media research projects, one in relation to Australian audiences and service industries - customer engagement for water businesses; and another on branding research for non-profit organisations.
Dr Tahmid Nayeem is working with colleagues from Central Queensland University (CQU) on a project that aims to evaluate the customer engagement (CE) strategies of the 2018 Victorian water price review process. "We will use both primary and secondary data to identify the best practices in CE, to quantify the resources used and to evaluate Essentials Services Commissions (ESC) performance rating on the issue," says Dr Nayeem. "The findings will definitely help synthesise the key learnings of CE in the PREMO [Performance, Risk, Engagement, Management, Outcomes] process, which will benefit water managers, regulators and policymakers.”
Dr Donna Bridges is continuing to research women in the Australian military, her PhD topic, including women in aviation in the military.
Dr Donna Bridges and Associate Professor Susan Mlcek are continuing their research on gender and social work, a project which received internal CSU Funding, Faculty Compact Funding, in 2016.
As part of his post-doc research position with the Faculty of Science Dr Keller Kopf is working on research questions around Murray Cod historical ecology, namely, whether or not useable DNA can be extracted from trophy Murray cod and museum specimens; and, what was Murray cod (an apex predator) eating before river regulation and the spread of invasive common carp. As part of this research Dr Kopf will be trialling the use of amino acid specific stable isotypes analyses to compare samples currently being collected throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, with the historical data from trophy and museum specimens.
ILWS researchers Dr Xiaoying (Sha sha) Liu, Professor Robyn Watts, Dr Julia Howitt and Dr Nicole McCasker are undertaking a glasshouse experiment to examine carbon and nutrient release and effects on dissolved oxygen (DO) following the inundation of different types of soils, grasses and crops from the floodplain.
Soil samples and plants for the experiment were collected from redgum forest and cropland that are adjacent to each other, but separated by a levee bank, on the Edward-Wakool floodplain. Forest soil, forest soil with leaf litter, and forest soil with wallaby grass were collected from the forest. Bare paddock soil, wheat stubble with paddock soil, and ryegrass with paddock soil were collected from the cropland. These samples were put into large pots and inundated with riverwater in the glasshouse at CSU Wagga Wagga campus. Carbon, nutrient and DO was sampled on day 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 16 following inundation.
Preliminary results suggest that both of the forest and the paddock systems are a significant source contributors of dissolved organic carbon and nutrients during floods. Research results will be shared with managers, landholders and other community groups.
Dr Wayne Robinson has assisted the South Australia Government’s revised description of the ecological character of the Coorong, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar site with his report: Robinson, W. A. (2017) Setting refined waterbird LAC [Limits if Acceptable Change] for the Coorong, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar site. Technical Report to DEWNR. November 2017.
Dr Richard Culas is working with a recipient of an Endeavour Post-Doc Fellowship on a project on Free Trade Agreements and their implications for Australian agricultural products trade and regional farm economies.
Dr Richard Culas is involved in a three year project (2018-2020) administered by the Graham Centre and funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia looking at the economic impact of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) on Australian horticultural (fruits and vegetables) crops.
Faculty of Science post doc, Dr James Turner, together with Associate Professor Dale Nimmo, has begun a three year study on how heat waves and diet affect folivorous mammals - the ringtail possum.
Dr Geoffrey Heard is working on a project looking at the change in the lifespan of frogs as a result of chytrid invading Australia. Together with Dr Ben Scheele, from ANU, they have been ageing frogs using skeletochronology, where they count the growth rings in a cross-section of bone using contemporary samples of bell frogs as well as specimens in museums.
Institute Adjunct Dr Jim Birckhead has begun a research project on an ethnography of standing stone Aboriginal heritage sites throughout the Pilbara and into the eastern desert areas of WA. The project is being funded through BHP's Heritage Research Division, Perth as part of BHP's community outreach and obligations. It is being developed over a number of phases.
The first desktop/archival phase has been completed with the resulting report - Birckhead, J. & Czerwinski, P. (2017) Ethnography of Stone Arrangements, Unpublished report, 36 pp for BHP Heritage Research, Land Access Solutions/Heritage WA, Perth. The next phase is liaising with researchers in WA and Tasmania, and visits to communities across the Pilbara to identify senior Traditional Owners who have the knowledge of these stone arrangements and the authority to speak for them.
Once identified, Jim will visit these sites with the appropriate elders to record their stories and the meaning of these sites. The final phase is to write a report of the research and to prepare journal and other research works based on the research.
Associate Professor Susan Mlcek, a social work educator and social scientist, heads a small research group at Bathurst within the School of Humanities & Social Sciences made up of herself, fellow ILWS member Dr Donna Bridges, a sociologist, and Dr John Healy, a social work educator. The three are exploring gender and indigenous issues including the gender spaces of social work.
A small Faculty grant was used to employ a research assistant to assist them with a literature review. From that initial activity evolved a co-operative enquiry research activity and a thematic analysis paper - 'What does it mean to be part of the gendered space(s) of social work?' Susan presented on the paper's topic at an international conference, New Directions in Humanities, in London in July.
Charles Sturt University, through the Institute, is one of the institutional members of the FAUNA (Future-proofing Australasia's Unique Native Animals) Research Alliance, a network which connects researchers and conservation "end user" practitioners from 47 organisations. Projects involving Institute members include:
Dr Peter Spooner, who has had a long term interest in Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves is currently writing a book on the Historic Development of Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves, something he has been working on since 2015. Dr Terry Kass and Mr Iain Marshall from NSW Land and Property Information have been assisting him with the project. Honours student Bryce Vella began a project commencing mid 2017 aimed at exploring the gazettement history of Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves in NSW. The project is co-supervised by Dr Prue Gonzalez from CSU's Port Macquarie campus.
Professor Rylee Dionigi is a member of a Canadian/Australian research team that has been awarded a CAD$81,170 Insight Grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for a three year (2020-2023) for a project Sport, aging, and disability: International perspectives on the meaning of sport in the lives of older adults living with a disability.
The research team comprises of Professor Sean Horton, University of Windsor; Canada, Professor Rylee A. Dionigi, CSU; Professor Patti Weir and Assistant Professor Paula van Wyk, University of Windsor; Professor Joseph Baker, York University, Canada; and Associate Professor Michael Gard, University of Queensland. The project is being managed by the University of Windsor.
Coming out of the Ramsar Section of the Society for Wetland Scientists in collaboration with others (World Wetlands Network, Cobra Collective, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature) is a repeat of a world-wide citizen science survey on the state of the world’s wetlands first done in 2017.
ILWS supported the writing of the paper to come out of the first survey. McInness, R.J., Davidson, N.C., Rostron, C.P., Simpson, M. & Finlayson, C.M. (2020) Citizen Science State of the World’s Wetlands Survey, Wetlands. https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/en/publications/a-citizen-science-state-of-the-worlds-wetlands-survey
The new survey, a repeat of the original one with some improvements, is available in seven languages. Working on the project is Institute Adjuncts Max Finlayson, Professor Nick Davidson, Associate Professor Rob McInness, and Dr Matt Simpson, along with Chris Rostron and Connor Walsh from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in the UK and James Dalton from IUCN. The data from this global assessment is being maintained by the Open University in the UK.
From December 9 to 14, a small team of six international wetland experts met in Yackandandah, North-East Victoria for a five day workshop to consider the main drivers or causes of wetland loss and degradation and what responses had been agreed by the 170 countries that comprise the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. They began writing a report on the drivers of global wetland loss and degradation and what can be done to slow down this loss. The report will build on the Global Wetland Outlook produced by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 2018. Participants were:
1.Prof Roy Gardner, Stetson University, USA (ILWS adjunct) – management responses (legal and institutional processes) and former Chair of the Ramsar Convention’s technical advisory panel
2.Dr Matthew McCartney, IWMI, Sri Lanka (ILWS adjunct) – rivers and water, and member of CGIAR Land, Water & Ecosystem Program
3.Dr Ritesh Kumar, Wetlands International, India (ILWS adjunct) – management responses (economic and community), and member of the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
4.A/Prof Anne van Dam, IHE Delft, Netherlands (ILWS adjunct) – drivers of change, and fish/aquaculture
5.Prof Siobhan Fennessy, Kenyon College, USA – assessment of change, and member of Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and USA national wetland assessment program
6. Professor Max Finlayson Aust (ILWS adjunct) – wetland ecology and management, including restoration; former Chair of Ramsar Convention’s technical advisory panel; member of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the Global Environment Outlook
Dr Jen Bond was contracted by FISHBIO Laos to develop and deliver a two-day training course on conflict management. The training was delivered on October 9 and 10, 2019 in Vientiane with participants coming from FISHBIO Laos, Laos Department of Livestock and Fisheries, and private hydropower companies. The second component of the trip included a three day field visit to one of FISHBIO Laos’ project sites and Fish Conservation Zones (FCZ). This visit included meetings with communities to discuss the challenges and benefits of the FCZs and provide recommendation to FISHBIO Laos on how to incorporate conflict management activities into their project work.
In October 2019, Associate Professor Margaret Woodward was awarded a Ruth Stephan Fellowship at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A. Along with collaborator Dr Justy Phillips, the two undertook research for Erratic Ecologies: A Field Guide, an artwork attending to material, relational and political conditions of ‘erraticness’.
This is the ﬁrst of their series of experimental ﬁeld stations—an apparatus for viewing and recording erratic activity, glacial movements and materialities of the body. Recording their activities, experiences and feelings over a 31 day period of research in the Beinecke and associated ﬁeldwork in the post-glacial landscapes of New England, this work becomes a tool for attuning to archive, site, and the confused circulations of the body using languages of metallurgy, deep time and glaciology. This artwork (the viewer, a combined set of 62 daily cards, and a copy of a blueprint all housed in a watertight box) has now been acquired for the Beinecke’s American Literature Collection.
Margaret and Justy also participated in research seminars with other scholars at The Yale Centre for British Art and the Lewis Walpole Library and gave a number of presentations to fellow artists, writers, researchers and curators and staff from the Beinecke Library During October 2019 they were also artists in residence at The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut.
Yale University has produced a story and short video about their research which is viewable at:
The Cambodian Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFReDI) and Cambodian Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MOWRAM) have constructed and monitored a new cone fishway on the Stung Pursat (Pursat River), a southern tributary of the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. Funded by the US Department of Interior and with technical assistance from the CSU Lower Mekong Fish Passage Group and CSU adjunct Tim Marsden, the fishway is only the second fishway built in Cambodia and is the first to be monitored. The local Cambodian Fisheries and Irrigation teams have been sampling the fishway regularly, with sampling over 14 days in June resulting in over 36,000 fish from 61 different species being captured in the fishway. The rate of capture was closely tied to the flows in the river, with the biggest catches coming during significant rises in the river. The team plans to continue sampling through the remainder of the wet season. This data is the first comprehensive sampling data to target actively migrating fish and will provide great insight into the migration patterns of fish from the tributary rivers of the Tonle Sap, which is one of the world’s most productive freshwater fisheries. ”This project is an excellent example of research impact, as the results of our ACIAR funded work were picked up by a donor and extended to other countries,” says Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner who heads up the Fish passage project.
From July 22 to 26, Professor Max Finlayson was in India at the request of Institute Adjunct Dr Ritesh Kumar, Head of Wetland International South Asia to discuss the development of a wetland inventory, assessment and monitoring strategy for Indian wetlands under climate change under a UN Global Environment Facility funded project.
Institute Adjunct Dr Venkat Pulla began working with social workers and NGOs following the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, later beginning a community narrative project with Tribhuvan University Rai, which has led to two papers on plazce of culture and resilience to earthquake trauma, with two colleagues from Tribhuvan University. The papers trace the earthquake Aftermath, the emergency disaster response of the state, international bodies' social work response, and the long-term challenges for land-locked Nepal.
Institute Adjunct Dr Patrick Cobbinah, a lecturer in the Department of Planning at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, is visiting the University of Michigan as a part of the 2018-2019 African Studies Center University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Program (UMAPS). Dr Cobbinah has a six month academic fellowship to work on his project, “Urban Growth, Neoliberal Governance Failures, and Water Scarcity in Accra,” under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Larissa Larsen. He will remain in Ann Arbor through to February 2019.
The Australian Resilience Centre (Institute Adjunct Paul Ryan,) is one of the partners behind a new on-line platform Wayfinder, described as A Resilience Guide for Navigating Towards Sustainable Futures. The platform, which was two years in the making, was created in partnership with the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and the Resilience Alliance, and was launched in Stockholm, Sweden, in September. Wayfinder represents a major innovation in resilience practice. It is as a free and open online platform primarily designed for development practitioners, planners, and policymakers who are working with sustainable development challenges, but the approach can also be tailored to a wide range of projects and contexts. The platform was developed under the Sida funded centre programme on Guidance for Resilience in the Anthropocene: Investments for Development (GRAID).
Professor Margaret Woodward’s collaborative Lost Rocks (2017-2021) project with Justy Phillips was curated into the exhibition "The Habitat of Time" at the Casula Powerhouse, Sydney from April 19 to May 5. Margaret is one of the exhibition’s six artists. The event, which is part of an international research initiative led by Dr Julie Louise Bacon at UNSW Art & Design in collaboration with Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in the UK, explores how contemporary art and archival practices experiment with time and reimagine reality.
Associate Professor Dirk Spennemann’s photography is featured in a new Kiska Exhibit which commemorates a little-known Alaska battlefield of global significance, Kiska Island. A slice of Alaska World War Two history, the Kiska Exhibit includes both historic and modern images of Kiska’s battlefield landscape. The Kiska Exhibit, on at the Alaska Aviation Museum, opened on Thursday, April 12, 2018 and runs until January 27, 2019. May marks the 75th commemorative anniversary of US efforts to retake the Japanese-held islands of Kiska and Attu. Kiska is one of eight former World War Two sites in Alaska designated as National Historic Landmarks. The Kiska Exhibit, developed by the National Park Service, National Historic Landmark Program, is based on research by the NPS and USFWS, supported by the American Battlefield Protection Program and the Aleutian WWII National Historic Area, in conjunction with A/Prof Dirk Spennemann.
During April, ILWS members A/Prof Dale Nimmo, Dr James Turner, Dr James Van Dyke and Dr Maggie Watson, alongside ILWS PhD scholarship student Harry Moore and Karen Retra and Dr Damian Michael, competed in the month-long QuestaGame University bioQuest. QuestaGame is an app-based game that lets users all over the world win points by spotting, photographing and identifying wildlife. Submitting sightings also allows participating conservation partners, including The Wilderness Society, Invasive Species Council, Birdlife Australia, WWF and Ningaloo Coast World Heritage, to earn cash donations towards their work. Team registration was supported by a Grassroots grant from CSU Green, obtained by Professor Dave Watson. The CSU team found 224 different species, more than half of which were on the Albury campus, and won the "Most Valuable Team Ribbon or the team with the highest average number of points per player. Additionally, the team members were in the top ten in five of the six game categories including Top Spotters- Universities, Correct Identifications - Top Teams and Top Spotters (Individuals).
Adjuncts Rob McInnes and Nick Davidson continued their work as members of a "Ramsar Expert Team" supporting the bilateral project between the governments of Myanmar and Norway on Conservation of Biodiversity and Management of Protected Areas in Myanmar by facilitating a workshop in Yangon, Myanmar from 9-12 April 2018 on the "status and finalisation of management plans for selected protected areas". From the workshop discussions a guidance document providing Recommendations for management planning in protected areas in Myanmar is being prepared. During their visit Rob and Nick also discussed with Myanmar and Norway government representatives another component of the project: a draft set of Guiding Principles for a systematic approach to Ramsar Site identification and prioritisation for designation and a Provisional working list of Myanmar wetlands potentially qualifying as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which will be finalised later in 2018.
Institute Adjunct Dr Tony McDonald is a member of a multi-disciplinary team for a project which aims to offer small holder farmers across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) improved capacity to produce and market “clean and green” produce. The project is promoting the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement’s (IFOAM) “Participatory Guarantee System” approach, a method to promote voluntary compliance with organic protocols. The team have been working with smallholder farmers across Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and the two southern provinces of PRC China. The broad strategy of CASP Phase II is to increase subregional agricultural competitiveness and agribusiness investment in the economic corridors.
Institute Adjunct Dr Patrick Cobbinah, who is with the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, is a member of the research team for the project Urban Growth, Neo Liberal Failures and Water Scarcity in Accra and Atlanta. The project has received US$10,000 funding and is investigating water governance regimes in Atlanta (USA) and Accra (Ghana), two rapidly growing cities —one from the global North and the other from the global South—that share similar histories of neoliberal water governance failure.
Institute Adjunct Dr Patrick Cobbinah is involved in a long term on-going project - Conservation and livelihood - that examines environment-development relations in Africa focusing on Ghana. The first phase of the project (which received some financial support from the Institute for data collection) was Ecotourism in protected areas in Ghana: benefits for few, costs to many.
Dr Richard Culas is involved in an ACIAR funded and Graham Centre administered project (2017-2020) looking at the economic impact of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on sweet potato production in Papua New Guinea.
Professor David Watson, together with Dr Mike Craig, University of WA, ILWS social scientist Dr Jennifer Bond and ILWS PhD student Liz Znidersic are investigating the "call playback" issue and whether or not the impact on birds is detrimental. Many birders use Apps on their Smartphones to help identify birds. However birders and guides are now using the App to try and attract birds so that they can have a look at them. While on a visit to Colombia in Latin America mid-year, Dave and Mike spent time out in the field in with birding guides in the foothills of the Andes and found that they all used call playback.
Dr Julia Howitt and Professor Max Finlayson are involved in a volunteer international research collaboration which is investigating the carbon emissions from dry wetland and river sediments around the world. The global dryflux investigation is led by a team in Germany. A standard sampling protocol is being used.
Others in the Australian team are Dr Jason Condon from the Graham Centre and Dr Catherine Leigh from Griffith University. The Australian team has done two rounds of sampling. During the week June 5 to 9, Drs Howitt, Condon and Leigh conducted measurements of carbon emissions in the Wagga region. In October, Dr Howitt and Professor Finlayson took 30 samples across 5 sites – the David Mitchell Wetlands on CSU's Albury-Wodonga campus, the Wonga Wetlands out of Albury near the Murray, and three sites at the Winton Wetlands near Benalla in Victoria - over two days.
The CSU samples are the only ones from Australia and are included in samples collected from more than 225 sites in 17 countries on 6 continents.