Guest Speaker: Professor Stephen J. Hawkins

The School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and the Environment Institute present a seminar by Professor Stephen J. Hawkins from the University of Southampton in the UK, where he is the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences & Professor of Natural Sciences.

Delegates on the rocky shore with Professor Steve Hawkins

Delegates on the rocky shore with Professor Stephen Hawkins (Source:

The Seminar is entitled “100 years of observations from the Marine Biological Association” and Prof Hawkins promises to give some insight into the role of temperate reefs as tractable systems for testing ideas in ecology. Those working in the field may also be reminded while conducting experiments and formulating hypotheses; not to forget the older work (even if inconveniently published in French) and to have fun, “as it is a privilege to be a paid up rock pooler and experimental natural historian”.

Prof Hawkins comes to Adelaide fresh from the 10th International Temperate Reefs Symposium in Perth, where he delivered a plenary entitled “Looking back and looking forward: the role of surveys, experiments and importance of natural history in temperate reef ecology”. We hope you can join us to learn all about the kind of information that can be gleaned from reef systems and how this information could be used to shed light on issues such as climate change, biodiversity and the impact of shellfisheries.

When: Monday 20th January 2014
Where: 715 Conference Room, Ingkarni Wardli Building, University of Adelaide
Time: 3:00pm

All welcome.

National Tree Day 28 July

Image: Planet Ark

Image: Planet Ark

National Tree Day on Sunday 28 July and School Tree Day on Friday 26 July combine to make Australia’s largest tree planting event.

National Tree Day present Australians with an opportunity to give something back to the environment we live in by planting native trees, grasses and shrubs in the local community. National Tree Day promotes education about our natural environment and a commitment to care for it for future generations. Since National Tree Day began in 1996, more than 2.8 million people have planted over 17 million trees and shrubs.

Get involved!

Register your tree planting event on the National Tree Day Registration page. If you’re not hosting an event but want to get involved, find an event near you.

Got questions?

More information is available in the FAQ section of the National Tree Day website, or call the National Tree Day hotline on 1300 88 5000.

Making national parks truly national.

Kakadu National Park - Flickr/Marc Dalmulder

Kakadu National Park – Flickr/Marc Dalmulder

Environment Insitute member Corey Bradshaw co-authored this piece on The Conversation on June 14, 2013.

Australia boasts over 500 national parks covering 28 million hectares of land, or about 3.6% of Australia. You could be forgiven for thinking we’re doing well in the biodiversity-conservation game.

But did you know that of those more than 500 national parks, only six are managed by the Commonwealth Government? For marine parks, it’s a little more: 61 of the 130-plus are managed primarily by the Commonwealth. This means that the majority of our important biodiversity refuges are managed exclusively by state and territory governments. In other words, our national parks aren’t “national” at all.

In a world of perfect governance, this wouldn’t matter. But we’re seeing the rapid “relaxation” of laws designed to protect our “national” and marine parks by many state governments. Would making all of them truly national do more to conserve biodiversity?

One silly decision resulting in a major ecosystem disturbance in a national park can take decades if not hundreds of years to heal. Ecosystems are complex interactions of millions of species that take a long time to evolve – they cannot be easily repaired once the damage is done.

The full article can be accessed here.

The Carbon Key seminar recording on carbon levels and evolution now available


Recently, Environment Institute member Professor Martin Kennedy presented a seminar as part of the University of Adelaide’s Research Tuesdays Seminar Series entitled The Carbon Key.

The Carbon Key outlined the relationship between carbon levels and the evolution and stability of complex life, and how understanding this relationship is allowing more accurate predictions of future change.

The video from the seminar can now be streamed on the University of Adelaide’s live stream website.

View the video here.

Research Tuesdays Seminar Series: The Carbon Key, 9 April

The Carbon KeyAs part of the University of Adelaide’s Research Tuesdays Seminar Series, Environment Institute member Professor Martin Kennedy presents The Carbon Key, a seminar on the relationship between carbon levels and the evolution and stability of complex life.

About the Speaker

Professor Martin Kennedy is the Director of the University of Adelaide’s Sprigg Geobiology Centre. He is a former recipient of the prestigious Rubey Fellowship in Geochemistry at the University of California Los Angeles, and a past member of the US National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Importance of Deep Time Climate Research.

When: Tuesday 9 April 2013
Where: Horace Lamb Building,  North Terrace Campus, the University of Adelaide
Time: 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Cost: free

To register visit the Research Tuesdays Registration page.

For more information visit The Carbon Key page.

Hear Merinda Nash talk about ocean acidification and opportunities for biologists and geologists to understand both the past and the future.

The Environment Institute’s Sprigg Geobiology Centre presents Merinda Nash from the Electronic Materials Engineering, Research School of Physics, Australian National University on Thursday 21st February 2013.

The talk is titled ‘Conditions constraining biomineralised dolomite in living tropical calcifying red algae offers insight into past environments’ (See Abstract Below)

Where: B18, Ingkarni Wardli Building, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide SA

Time: 12pm-1pm

When: Thursday 21st February 2013


Merinda Nash

Merinda Nash

Merinda Nash is a PhD candidate in the Electronic Materials Engineering group, Research School of Physics, at the Australian National University. Her research is into the physical properties of biogenic carbonates, particularly coral and coralline algae and how these may be impacted by ocean acidification.


Research into effects of ocean acidification on tropical calcifying red algae led to the surprising discovery that these algae precipitate substantial amounts (up to 30% of total carbonate) of dolomite contemporaneously with their living processes. Biomineralised dolomite is found within the cell spaces of living crustose coralline alga and has both rhomb and spheroidal morphologies. Alteration bands of dolomite and aragonite obliterate cell features leaving ghost outlines of original cells. There are many similarities between features of this modern dolomite paleo dolomite. It seems that this bio-dolomite is common in modern coral reefs and is constrained by light, temperature and water energy conditions. Our experiments showed that the presence of dolomite in the coralline algae reduces its rate of dissolution 6-10 times compared to only Mg-calcite coralline algae. This is due to a combination of reduced porosity and stability of the dolomite in-fill. Analysis of reef core coralline algae demonstrated that this bio-dolomite is stable over at least several thousand years and the original cell in-fill morphology is retained. The preferential preservation of dolomite rich red algae demonstrates a process for concentrating dolomite in shallow marine environments in elevated CO2 conditions. Biological ocean acidification experiments on calcifying algae have the potential to answer many questions about how dolomite forms, what is the isotope fractionation of this bio-dolomite and can this information be used to reconstruct past environments. This opens the door to new opportunities for biologists and geologists to collaborate to understand both the past and the future.

Read Merinda’s paper published in Nature that relates to this talk.

Guest Speaker: Dr Martijn van de Pol

The School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and the Environment Institute present a public seminar by Dr Martijn van de Pol from Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, Research School of Biology at the Australian National University on Monday 29th October 2012 at 2:00pm.

Dr Martijn van de Pol. Photo from Australian National University

The Seminar is titled ‘Phenotypic change and population dynamics in a changing environment: an evolutionary demographer’s approach’. Dr van de Pol’s research interest is at the interface of behavioural, evolutionary and population ecology, particularly the climate change ecology of birds. He combines ecological modelling with field studies to investigate questions like: What are the mechanisms by which animals adapt to climate change and is adaptation fast enough to avoid extinction?, What is the contribution of the different aspects of climate change to population dynamics?, Why are some species more sensitive to extinction than others? How do shorebirds adapt their feeding ecology in response to shellfisheries?

When: Monday 29th October 2012
Where: Benham Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm

All welcome.

‘China’s Economic Growth, Energy and Environmental Sustainability’ – Confucius Institute’s China Briefing

Environment Institute member Simon Divecha is taking part in the next ‘China Briefing’ event held by the University of Adelaide’s Confucius Institute on Wednesday 11th July.

The Confucius Institute’s China Briefings provide up to date knowledge of the most recent developments in China’s political, economic and cultural spheres that are of the most concern to the Australian public.

The next China Briefing ‘China’s Economic Growth, Energy and Environmental Sustainability’ will look at the environmental consequences of China’s rapid economic development, including the fact that China is currently the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions. Despite China making real efforts to address these issues, they still pose enormous challenges and the briefing will examine the problems, debates, solutions, and opportunities for Australia, of China’s economic/environmental dilemma.


  • Mr Simon Divecha, Business Manager of The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide
  • Dr Dale Wen, environmental researcher and activist
  • Mr John O’Brien, Managing Director and Founder, Australian CleanTech

Date: Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Time: 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Venue: Level 12 Ernst & Young Building, 121 King William Street, Adelaide

Please note: This is a free event, but online registration is essential.

More information about the China Briefing is available on the Confucius Institute website.

This China Briefing is kindly sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Hong Kong Australia Business Association SA

New Paper – Booming during a bust: Asynchronous population responses of arid zone lizards to climatic variables

A new paper written by Environment Institute members, Dr John Read, Professor Barry Brook and Dr Damien Fordham as well as Kelli-Jo Kovac from the Environment Section, BHP Billiton Olympic Dam, has been made available online and will soon be published in the Journal Acta Oecologica.

The paper titled ‘Booming during a bust: Asynchronous population responses of arid zone lizards to climatic variables’ explores the productivity of arid environments and the reproductive success of vertebrates in these systems. Data from their 15 year study at an Australian arid zone site reveals asynchronous demographic responses to rainfall and other climatic variables among different lizard species.

Read and dowload the paper to find out what the researchers discovered by analysing a 15-year multi-species capture-mark-recapture dataset.

World Environment Day – June 5th

June 5th is World Environment Day and this year’s theme is “Many Species. One Planet. One Future”.

World Environment Day is a day designed to raise awareness about the environment and to focus political attention and public action on environmental issues.  June 5th is the day that the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment commenced in 1972 and the first World Environment Day was held the following year on June 5th 1973. 

World Environment Day is hosted every year by a different city and has covered a variety of themes.  It is commemorated with an international exposition during the week of June 5th.  In 2009, the theme was “Your Planet Needs You – UNite to Combat Climate Change” and the event was held in Mexico City.

The theme for 2010 is “Many Species. One Planet. One Future” and the event will be hosted by Rwanda.  The exposition, including three days of keynote events, will celebrate the amazing biodiversity on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

 Click on the following link if you would like to find out more about World Environment Day or go directly to the list of Adelaide’s WED activities.