PSRF contributes $1.35 million to TREND

As part of the Premier’s Science and Research Fund (PSRF), the State Government is providing $1.35 million over three years to establish a TREND Line to monitor the agricultural and ecological impact of climate change.

TREND is a collaborative initiative between the University of Adelaide, the Department of Water Land and Biodiversity Conservation, Department for Environment and Heritage and the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Together these partners will establish the South Australian TRansect for ENvironmental monitoring and Decision making.

“The TREND program will provide an early warning system for ecosystems shifts due to climate change, helping to plug a fundamental gap in our knowledge about how natural and production systems respond to this change. This will lead to improved modelling that will help inform effective management decisions for the future,” said Professor Andy Lowe, Director of the Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB), the Environment Institute.

The TREND program will deliver a study of economically and ecologically important systems, running from Adelaide north through the Mt Lofty Ranges, the Barossa and Clare Valleys to the rangelands and eventually into the northern desert areas of the State. This project will involve and engage the wider community, by providing a forum for direct public involvement in data collection.

Over the next five years, it will provide resources to assist managers of natural and agricultural systems to incorporate climate change into their planning. Ultimately, it will provide a legacy of high-quality monitoring for future generations.

“The TREND line will provide vital data needed for research in climate adaptation and the development of effective and innovative approaches to sustaining our environment and securing our economic future,” Premier Mike Rann said.

“This is the most significant investment in climate change understanding on the ground for any state or territory in Australia,” Professor Lowe said.

TREND

Data storage and access

Open source databases with dashboard access

Citizen Science

Involving the public in the scientific process

Decision Making

Develop management advice and policy

Transect Programs

Monitoring and experimental hypothesis testing

Political, Social and Economic Drivers

e.g. Carbon Credits

Biodiversity Credits

Data synthesis and Analysis

Reporting and modelling

Public Communication

Communication of policy to the public

International Science Linkages – Science Academies Program 2010-2011 Grants (round one)

Corey Bradshaw

The International Linkages – Science Academies Program supports Australian scientists from public and private sectors to collaborate with international partners in order to contribute to Australia’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Seventy-five leading Australian scientists have been awarded scientific grants to travel to research institutions in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Europe and North America to commence their projects in 2010.

Professor Corey Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, has been awarded a grant to travel to China in October next year to work with Chinese scientists, Professor Lingli Tang, Associate Professor Guo-jing Yang and Professor Xiao-nong Zhou, on a project determining the relationship between environmental degradation and human health at the national scale.
The Environment Institute would like to congratulate Corey on his success.

The International Linkages – Science Academies Program supports Australian scientists from public and private sectors to collaborate with international partners in order to contribute to Australia’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Seventy-five leading Australian scientists have been awarded scientific grants to travel to research institutions in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Europe and North America to commence their projects in 2010.

Professor Corey Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, has been awarded a grant to travel to China in October next year to work with Chinese scientists, Professor Lingli Tang, Associate Professor Guo-jing Yang and Professor Xiao-nong Zhou, on a project determining the relationship between environmental degradation and human health at the national scale.

The Environment Institute would like to congratulate Corey on his success.

Renewable energy powers SA councils

Listen to a case study presented by Roy Ramage.

The The City of Victor Harbor has recently launched a Research and Development program with the Environment Institute’s Centre for Energy Technology. This program will examine and produce a hybrid wind/solar energy system to be used for street lighting in Victor Harbor area. This comes in the wake of a solar panel rollout by the council in an effort to reduce the dependence on traditional energy sources. The City of Victor Harbor has enabled over 900 households to install solar panels via the Community Purchase of Renewable Energy Program (C-PREP) with the aid of ZEN Home Energy Systems.

At today’s Local Government Renewable Energy Forum, Mike Young, the Director of the Environment Institute along with members of the Centre for Energy Technology gave a panel discussion on the options for renewable energy sources and what the future holds for such technologies. The Economic Development Officer for the City of Victor Harbor, Roy Ramage, gave a talk on how the Victor Harbor Council is implementing and using renewable energies to power the area and the Centre’s role in producing the technology.

This symbiosis between the University and the City of Victor Harbor will aid in the development of relevant and applicable renewable energy solutions. These solutions are vital, if we want to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

Roy Ramage and Jordan Parham

Roy Ramage from the City of Victor Harbor and Jordan Parham from the Environment Institute at the Local Government Renewable Energy Forum

Breakthrough for clean biofuel research using salt-tolerant algae crops

Australian scientists are a step closer to creating commercial quantities of clean biofuel using salt-tolerant algae crops.  A joint $3.3 million project led by Murdoch University and involving the University of Adelaide, now leads world algae biofuel research.

Dr David Lewis from the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering says a key aspect of the project is to show that commercial levels of algae can be grown without competing for resources with food crops, stating: “The algae will grow on non-arable, even arid-land, without any need for freshwater in cultivation”  [read more].

Water Wednesday

A special forum presented by the Water Research Centre of the University of Adelaide

When: 5:30 – 6:45 pm, Wednesday 21 October 2009
Where: Napier Lecture Theatre 102 Napier Building
North Terrace campus, University of Adelaide

‘Managing the Murray icon sites: can engineering save the environment?’

The 3 Murray icon sites in SA are Chowilla, the mainstream, and the Coorong & Lower Lakes. Each of these icon sites identified in the Living Murray Program is suffering significant environmental damage, and the options for repair are limited by the lack of available water. New approaches are needed to find innovative alternatives as interim measures until flows can be increased to provide effective environmental flows. The role of engineering solutions in this context is controversial.

PROGRAM
Chair: Prof Martin Lambert, University of Adelaide

• Options for the environmental future of the River Murray ecosystem in South Australia

Ms Judy Goode, Environmental Manager, SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board

• Potential benefits and impacts of the proposed Chowilla watering structure

Mr Tony Herbert, Senior Ecologist, Department of Water, Land & Biodiversity Conservation

• Future options for the Lower Lakes and Coorong

Associate Professor Justin Brookes, University of Adelaide

• Your Views: Open Discussion

To reserve your place, RSVP:
environment@adelaide.edu.au
with ‘Water Wednesday’ in the subject line by Friday 16 October

Place and Purpose 2009

Listen to podcasts of seminars from the 2009 Place and Purpose Symposium -Applying landscape science to Natural Resource Management. The Symposium builds upon the success of the first event held in Bendigo 2007 and provides the opportunity to interact with the expertise and technology of the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI).
The Symposium is  organised by the South Australian Landscape Science Cluster with support from SSI’s Spatial Information and Cartography Commission and features two days of quality presentations from key note speakers, regional NRM personnel and researchers.

Environmental Genomics

Listen to a podcast of Professor Alan Cooper presenting one of the Science Seminar Series.

The accurate and rapid assessment of biodiversity is a critical aspect for modern science, and ranges from the measurement of environmental and climate change, to microbes in water systems or at the point of care in medical centres. Similarly, the need for the rapid and responsible economic development of primary resources, and the monitoring of invasive species and biosecurity, also place a premium on the ability to quickly assess and quantify biodiversity across a range of diverse habitats. In contrast to this pressing demand, current biodiversity assessment methods are generally laborious and expensive, and do not provide particularly detailed estimates of small, cryptic, or unknown species.

ACAD have combined methods developed to detect trace amounts of ancient DNA with 2nd Generation Sequencing technology to design a vertical barcoding system capable of rapidly screening the genetic and taxonomic diversity of modern, complex biological samples. In parallel with studies of taxonomically identified museum and herbaria material, this approach promises to provide the first genetic audits of diverse Australian environments. In combination with preserved biological signals (such as from marine sediments), there is now an opportunity to perform comprehensive analyses of the impacts of climate change on ecosystems. We are also working with IPAS to develop miniaturised and portable DNA detection systems, which will eventually allow field-based genetic analysis – and the ultimate aim of a Star Trek Tricorder.

Professor Alan Cooper, Director, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA

Prof. Cooper was awarded a Federation Fellowship in 2004 to relocate from Oxford University, where he was the Director of the Henry Wellcome Ancient Biomolecules Centre, and develop an advanced ancient DNA facility for Australia at the University of Adelaide. The purpose-built, positive air-pressure, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) is located in the State Herbarium building and opened in 2006, and provides an internationally-leading research and development centre for studies of preserved genetic information across Australia, and the Southern Hemisphere. ACAD is a University Research centre, and forms one of the founding groups in both the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute (TEI) and the Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS). In 2009, Prof. Cooper was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship in the first round of this scheme, with the project title ‘From biodiversity to health: Performing the first genetic audits of Australia’.

Current research projects focus on the impacts of climate and environmental change over time, and the role this plays in extinction events and the evolutionary history and distribution of modern species and populations. Other key areas include molecular clocks, advanced forensics, and agricultural genetics. ACAD’s current strategic interests include environmental genomics, forensic applications for military/police and humanitarian organisations, climate and environmental change in Australia and Antarctica, and ancient DNA studies of megafauna and humans in South America.

50 years of invasion ecology – the legacy of Charles Elton

Listen to a podcast of Professor Dave Richardson presenting the Science Series Seminar, 50 years of invasion ecology – the legacy of Charles Elton. Invasion ecology is the study of the human-mediated introduction of organisms, especially to areas outside the potential range of given organisms as defined by their natural dispersal mechanisms and biogeographical barriers. Early naturalists (Darwin, De Candolle, Hooker, Lyell, etc) made interesting observations on the ecology of alien species.  Early 20th century ecologists such as Herbert Baker, Marston Bates, Frank Egler and Carl Huffaker made important contributions to the emerging study of biological invasions.  The publication, in 1958, of Charles Elton’s book The ecology of invasions by animals and plants was a milestone in the literature on biological invasions.  Other contributions in this symposium discuss whether Elton deserves the mantle of “ father of invasion ecology” and his book accolades such as “the bible of invasion biology”. This presentation  explores trajectories and trends in the systematic study of biological invasions over the last 50 years.  It discusses key events and the driving forces that are shaping the field, seminal publications, key topics and the main challenges that face invasion ecologists.

Dave Richardson is Deputy Director: Science Strategy at the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB) in South Africa and is professor of ecology in Stellenbosch University’s Department of Botany and Zoology. His research focuses on the ecology of biological invasions, and in particular the dynamics of plant invasions, especially trees.  He has worked predominantly on invasive species in southern Africa, but has also published on invasive species in many other parts of the world and on global patterns and trends in biological invasions.  Much of his work is directed at providing guidelines for the improved management of invasions, but he is also interested in contributing to a theoretical framework for understanding invasions.  He has a long-standing interest in formulating practical solutions for biological invasions in commercial forestry and agroforestry.