ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Research Activities

  • Regional
  • National
  • International


Mistletoe in Melbourne's Parks

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.

The city is regarding all the parks and street trees it manages as an urban forest and is interested in what it can do to make that forest a more wildlife friendly place. "One of the things is having hollows for wildlife to nest in, so you can add nesting boxes and/or arborists can create them in existing trees; another is to add mistletoes into the picture," says Dave. "The plan is to focus on plane trees – not by removing them and replacing with a more appropriate species which would take ages to grow to the same size – but to leave them and use them as host trees for creeping mistletoe."

Dave's former Masters student, Mel Cook from UTS, is involved in the project.


Standing stone Aboriginal heritage sites

Dr Jim Birckhead and eldersInstitute 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has been completed with the resulting report - Birckhead, J. & Czerwinski, P. (2017) Ethnography of Stone Arrangements, Unpublished report, 36 pp for BHP Heritage Research, Land Access Solutions/Heritage WA, Perth.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.

Gender Spaces of Social Work

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. 

Fauna Research Alliance

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:

  • Rewilding Little Desert  (Professor David Watson)
  • Search for the Long-beaked echidna (Professor David Watson)

Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves

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.


Call Playback research

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. 

"We think it is not nearly as bad as it is held up to be and it might actually be a really useful way to get a whole lot of people engaging with nature who otherwise may not be," says Dave.

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. 

Carbon emissions

Dryflux samplingDr 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.