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Articles categorized as ‘Australian Environmental Science Programs’

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Here’s a James Cook University Student Blog about studying marine biology, and why JCU is such a fantastic choice!

Before I came to university, I had a hard time deciding which university to choose. Making a list and weighing all the advantages and disadvantages helped me to make my decision and I surely do not regret it now. Coming to JCU was the best decision I made. Here is a small list of why I think JCU is the best place in the world to study marine biology.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

JCU marine biology student Kessia Virah-Sawmy (Photo: JCU Connect)

1. So close to the iconic Great Barrier Reef

I come from an island found in the tropics and my country is surrounded by fringing reefs. I wanted to study somewhere where I could learn about corals and reef fishes and where best to do it than right on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef on the planet and a world heritage. The location of the GBR was the main reason why I chose JCU. With the reef right at their doorstep, researchers and students at JCU can work very closely on coral reefs.

Being in the tropics also means that Townsville has hot summers and nice (not-so-cold) winters. It is like summer all year round which is very similar to my tropical home. It was thus not a problem for me to adapt to this new environment.

2. Best facilities and lecturers

Studying marine biology at JCU means that you have access to a wide number of facilities from live specimens in practical classes to research facilities in both marine biology and aquaculture. JCU has a marine research station on Orpheus island which is located just off the coast of Ingham, about 2 hours North of Townsville. With accommodation and research facilities on the island, students can go on the island for specific classes to study the incredible marine life that surrounds the island.

James Cook University is highly recognised in terms of research done in the marine field including coral reef research, shark research or fisheries work. For the past years that I have been at JCU, I have had the great privilege of having lecturers who are experts in their field and who are eager and passionate to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. It is always great to hear about their experience and how they became who they are today. It gives us a sense of pride when we read a paper written by one of our lecturers or seeing them on the news. The JCU lecturers are world-known scientists who work with different research bodies such as the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies or the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Diving is a given at JCU (Photo: JCU Connect)

3. Incredible field trips

As soon as I started first year, the lecturers were already getting us excited about field trips. Field trips are by far the most exciting part about studying marine biology. From going up Castle hill to look at rocks, to going down to the strand to count snails, or visiting fish farms, to snorkelling for hours around Orpheus island, I have been able to go on some incredible field trips so far.

Field trips makes the course even more interesting. You look forward to this one weekend where you get to spend 2 days on an island surrounded by the most beautiful coral reefs where you snorkel for hours and hours without getting tired of it. Or you get excited when you get to discover the breathtaking North Queensland while visiting fish farms. There are quite a few classes that have field trips to Orpheus island such as MB3160- Evolution and Ecology of Reef fishes, MB3190- Coral Reef Ecology, MB3210- Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals, MB3300- Coral Reef Ecosystems and EV3406- Coral Reef Geomorphology. I also enjoyed the AQ2002- Introduction to Tropical Aquaculture class where we got to visit different aquaculture farms in North Queensland.

4. Diving opportunities

The Great Barrier Reef offers amazing diving opportunities. From shallow reef diving off Cairns to the world-known shipwreck dive of Yongala, there is lots to see and discover. I had the chance to do get my Advanced PADI open water course on a liveaboard on the GBR. It was the best experience ever! We were able to dive with sharks, turtles and rays and see some amazing corals.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

The iconic Great Barrier Reef (Photo: JCU Connect)

The JCU Dive Club also offers a number of trips throughout the semester ranging from day trips to 10-day trips on the reef. It is one of the most famous and active clubs on campus. They also offer courses such as Open divers, Advanced Divers, Rescue divers or CPR and First Aid courses.

5. Meeting people from all over the world

JCU is well known for marine studies and therefore attracts students from all over the world. I am not lying when I say that most of my classmates are international students. From Asia, to Europe, to the USA, to Africa, I have met people from all over the place. It is great to see how multicultural the campus is. As an international, this provides a welcoming environment where you learn to accept each other’s culture. I have developed close and strong friendships with different people and I can’t wait to travel the world and visit all of them.

I have also met some amazing Australian people who are always so eager to make us discover their culture which is mainly Barbies and a “cool” attitude. They are by far the most welcoming people I have ever met. A few months in the country and the Aussies will have already taught you how to speak Australian, which is basically just shortening every word.

There are so many more reasons to why I chose JCU but those are my top 5. JCU is recognised worldwide as one of the best in marine research, more specifically in Coral Reef research and Tropical Aquaculture. Many of my friends back home were sceptic as to why I would come all the way to far North Queensland to study Marine Biology. Well now I can tell them that it is the best decision I have made and I would not have chosen a different university.

Story by Kessia Virah-Sawmy via JCU Connect

Master of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology

JCU is the leading education and research institution for Marine Biology in the Tropics. JCU’s unique location enables students from Australia and overseas to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world.

The postgraduate degree program in Marine Biology and Ecology is internationally recognised. We focus on developing career professionals who can address the grand challenges for marine and coastal ecosystems, particularly in the tropical Asia-Pacific region. You will be researching and tackling issues such as

  • Climate change, ecosystem resilience and adaptation
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Environmental and ecological sustainability
  • Biodiversity and conservation challenges for marine organisms and ecosystems
  • Sustainable marine resource management
  • Global and regional food security
  • Sustainable livelihoods for coastal and island based societies.

Program: Master of Science (Marine Biology and Ecology)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Duration: 1.5 years
Semester intakes: February and July
Application deadline: January 30 and June 29 each year
Entry requirements: Completion of a recognised, appropriate undergraduate degree attaining a minimum of 65% or equivalent prior learning including appropriate professional experience.

Apply to the Master of Science at James Cook University!

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Are you interested in studying marine biology at James Cook University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Introducing the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Resources and energy, climate change, urbanisation, population growth, conservation and sustainability will be areas of focus for a new University of Queensland school.

Introducing the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Professor Aitchison is head of the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (Photo: UQ)

The UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences came into being on Jan. 1 and now combines UQ’s School of Earth Sciences and the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management.

Professor Jonathan Aitchison, who will head the new school, said it would be an interdisciplinary powerhouse of academic expertise, developing practical solutions to big issues.

“The school will give greater breadth and depth to the study of earth and environmental sciences, greatly benefitting students, strengthening research capacity, and will provide greater disciplinary coherence and opportunity,” said Professor Aitchison, the Head of UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

“It makes sense to bring earth and environmental sciences together in the university.

“The new school is a recognition of the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of geological and geographical sciences, environmental management, coastal processes, urban planning and safety science.”

Professor Aitchison said UQ had a strong international reputation for excellence in earth and environmental sciences.

It ranks number 1 in Australia in life sciences in the Times Higher Education Ranking and number 12 globally, number 32 internationally in geography, and is in the world’s top 100 Earth and Marine Sciences institutions in the 2016 QS rankings by subject.

“The combined staff of the new school are recognised as experts in their fields,” Professor Aitchison said.

“They conduct pure and applied research with strong links to our industry, government and university partners who have provided excellent support over many years.

“In addition, our people have a strong reputation for quality teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students in all discipline areas across the new school.”

Professor Aitchison said integrated teams of earth scientists, physical and social scientists, environmental management specialists, health and safety experts, and urban planners would work together to generate new knowledge and opportunities for further discovery.

Current collaborative research projects and consulting pieces would continue as usual and new projects would begin as funding and support becomes available.

“By providing a new academic structure for these related disciplines we will provide opportunities to improve end-to-end delivery of services and research outcomes,” he said.

“This benefits industries, government, university partners, and communities, and continues availability of state-of-the-art facilities for industry and research project work.”

Professor Aitchison is a geologist and an expert in plate tectonics, palaeontology and geo-microbiology.

University of Queensland Environmental Science Degrees

Master of Agribusiness
Master of Agricultural Science
Master of Conservation Biology
Master of Conservation Science
Master of Environmental Management
Master of Geographic Information Science
Master of Integrated Water Management
Master of Mineral Resources
Master of Responsible Resource Development (Environment)
Master of Rural Development
Master of Sustainable Energy

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Find out more about your study options at the new UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Melbourne says emissions reduction, curriculum changes central to new Sustainability Plan

The University of Melbourne will be carbon neutral before 2030, achieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021 and will now report annually on the institution’s sustainability impact and performance.

Melbourne says emissions reduction, curriculum changes central to new Sustainability Plan

Melbourne launches Sustainability Plan 2017–2020

That’s according to the university’s first institution-wide Sustainability Plan 2017–2020, an ambitious four-year strategy that will position Melbourne as a sector-leader in sustainability according to Vice-Principal Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Allan Tait.

The Plan also pushes for sustainability to become a more prominent part of all undergraduate curriculum, as well as outlining the university’s response to calls to divest from fossil fuel-intensive companies.

“The university has a responsibility to lead strongly and act decisively in addressing global societal challenges, such as building a more sustainable world.”

“This Sustainability Plan clearly outlines the university’s commitment to this important task and highlights how Melbourne is acting on this front across all areas of the institution, with holistic actions and targets that will assist in tackling the impacts of climate change.”

On divestment, the university recognises that climate change impacts result in increased risk and potential opportunities for its investments, and that it must act to mitigate this risk. It therefore plans to establish within a year a sustainable investment framework for evaluating and managing material climate change risk, and which will set out the criteria for divestment from and investment in listed equities.

This framework will as far as possible cover factors such as a company’s emissions intensity, emissions reduction plans, alignment to the outcomes of global climate change agreements and investment in and transition to renewable energy.

“Within four years, the university will be divested from, or in the process of divesting from, any material holdings that don’t satisfy the requirements of this framework,” said Mr Tait. “This approach, and that of all of the commitments in this plan, reflects the consolidated efforts and collective will of the university community.”

The Sustainability Plan is the result of a more than 12 months of public consultation process that commenced in late 2015 with the development of the university’s Sustainability Charter. This process saw nearly 500 attendees across two events as well as hundreds of email submissions into the development of both the plan and the charter.

While the charter establishes the high-level principles and values the university wishes to adopt when it came to sustainability, the plan sets out a range of clear targets and priority actions for how the institutions will meet these principles.

Other key aims for the plan:

  • Reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects such as solar, wind and geothermal.
  • Increase the number of University of Melbourne graduates who can demonstrate a specialization in environment and sustainability.
  • Replace 10% of university car parking spaces with bicycle parking by 2018.
  • Publish a university-wide Biodiversity Management Plan.
  • Develop industry partnerships that emphasize the university’s resources for sustainability research.

The university is home to approximately 1,300 researchers who apply their expertise in fields relevant to sustainability and resilience said Mr Tait, and in partnership with industry, government and communities, this will support the transition to a more sustainable future.

“The plan is more than just a public statement of our commitment to sustainability. It sets out an ambitious path towards new modes of governance and operations in a warming world, and reiterates our desire to work with industry to support and assist the transition to a lower emissions future.”

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Are you interested in environmental sciences at the University of Melbourne? Please contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Deal opens Galapagos Islands to James Cook University

James Cook University staff and students will have the opportunity to study in the crucible of evolutionary theory, the Galapagos Islands, under a new agreement.

Deal opens Galapagos Islands to James Cook University

Signing the agreement in Quito. Left to right: Professor Diego Quioroga, Vice-President of Research and External Affairs, Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Professor Terry Magnuson, VC for Research, University of North Carolina; Professor Iain Gordon, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tropical Environments and Societies, JCU (Photo credit: JCU)

The agreement allows JCU staff and students access to the Galapagos Science Centre: a world-class research and teaching facility on the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal, which is globally recognised as a pristine, unique ecosystem.

JCU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, Professor Iain Gordon, signed the Galapagos Marine Science Consortium Agreement at a ceremony in Quito, Ecuador last month.

Professor Gordon said the intent is for JCU to collaborate with partner universities in areas of research and teaching with a focus on the Galapagos Islands.

“The Galapagos Islands are iconic for their part in shaping Darwin’s ideas on evolution. As with the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, the Galapagos Islands are recognised by the United Nations as a World Heritage Area. Today, however, they are under unprecedented pressure from development and tourism.

“This partnership, with two world-class universities, will allow our researchers and students to study the human and environmental issues associated with conservation and sustainable development on the islands.

“We will also help build the capacity of Ecuador’s researchers and provide advice to the Ecuadorian Government as to how to manage this unique archipelago,” said Professor Gordon.

He said that, in the first instance, there is also great scope for JCU intensive courses to be run on San Cristobal and adjacent islands in the Galapagos group.

The arrangement will run for the next two years.

James Cook University’s major partners in the Galapagos Marine Science Consortium are the University of San Francisco Quito (Ecuador) and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Minor partners are the University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Brunei daar Salam.

The partner universities will collaborate based on their specialities; i.e., UNC has advanced genomic facilities and USFQ has local knowledge of the biodiversity and logistics. Each year there will be collaborative cruises among the islands for researchers and students from the different universities.

JCU College of Marine and Environmental Sciences

As part of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences promotes, fosters, supports and administers quality teaching and research at JCU in the areas of marine biology, environment, geography and sustainability, aquaculture and fisheries, and terrestrial ecosystems.

Marine science is the interdisciplinary study of the marine environment bringing together elements of marine biology, oceanography, marine geoscience and environmental management. Marine scientists explore the make-up and dynamics of the world’s oceans and use their skills to investigate and manage human impacts on the marine environment; understand and utilise ocean resources; and manage and protect our marine reserves.

JCU’s location in the tropics allows students and research staff ready access to a wide variety of tropical marine systems including coral reefs, tropical estuaries, mangrove habitats and seagrass beds. Links between research and teaching programs ensure that students are at the cutting edge of marine research.

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Are you interested in marine science? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information about environmental sciences degrees available at James Cook University!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

New policy to steer Monash University’s attack on climate change

The Monash University Environmental, Social and Governance statement (ESG) will tackle climate change through its teaching, research, engagement, investments and campus operations.

The new policy statement commits Monash, Australia’s largest and most global university, to heightened levels of environmental and social sustainability.

New policy to steer Monash University’s attack on climate change

Monash has set infrastructure goals to monitor its transition to a net zero carbon emissions organisation

Monash University has an annual operating revenue of more than $2 billion and generates $3.9 billion worth of economic activity each year. It has more than $3.75 billion in assets.

The Chancellor of Monash University, Simon McKeon AO said the commitments contained in the environmental, social and governance policy statement applied across the full scope of the university’s operations.

“The time for action to fight climate change is now. Our new policy statement will influence our research, teaching, investments and how we engage with our industry and government partners and the broad community. It will also impact on our campus facilities,” Mr McKeon said.

“Very few organisations in Australia have anywhere near Monash’s breadth of capability. The implementation of the new policy will see Monash use that capability to help combat the effects of global warming.

“We’ll seek to influence the transition to a net zero carbon economy by engaging with governments and businesses and utilising the technologies developed from Monash’s world-class research programs.” Mr McKeon said.

The President and Vice Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the new policy would also see Monash set five year infrastructure goals to measure and monitor its transition to a net zero carbon emissions organisation.

“Monash will commit itself to achieve net zero emissions and we will announce that target date for its achievement early next year,” Professor Gardner said.

“Under the new policy announced [today], the university will review every year the environmental, social and governance factors relating to our direct and indirect investment portfolios.

“Already, Monash has no direct investments in companies whose primary ongoing business is production of fossil fuels. Further, Monash has been successful in excluding companies whose primary activity is coal production from more than 90 percent of our indirect investment portfolio. The university will be working with fund managers to exclude all companies whose primary activity is coal production from our indirect investments,” Professor Gardner said.
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Find out more about studying climate change at Monash. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Griffith environmental sciences student gets real world experience

A fairy tale and university study may seem an unusual pairing but for Griffith University student Tahlia Rossi a Heron Island field trip was just that.

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Tahlia Rossi at Heron Island (Photo: Griffith University)

There were no glass slippers to be found, but flippers were the footwear of choice for students diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

Tahlia is studying a double degree, Urban & Environmental Planning and Science with a double major in Marine Biology and Climate Change Adaptation, so real world experience that puts the skills she’s learning into action was the perfect environment for her.

The marine field course sees students embark on a week-long science experience at Heron Island on the reef where they undertake research projects as part of their degree.

Having been “deeply inspired by nature and learning of its intricate functions and beauty,” Tahlia has always been excited by the  concept of contributing knowledge through research.

She’s hoping to bring a science background to a career in urban planning to give her more credibility and the knowledge and ability to collaborate with people in other disciplines.

Her degrees have given her amazing opportunities as well as allowing her to work as a Research Assistant at Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation. Tahlia will also represent Griffith at the 2016 Advance Global Australian Summit at the Sydney Opera House as a mentee.

“It has been inspiring to be given so many opportunities like going on exchange to the University of Copenhagen for one year, attending a sustainability summit in Singapore, going on this research trip to Heron Island, receiving training in mentoring, resume writing, communication skills and presentation skills,” she says.

“I have been challenged by the length of my degree and the difficulty of some of the science subjects, but on the other hand, to overcome these challenges gives me confidence and strength.”

Advance is the preeminent global community of high achieving Australians and alumni abroad, with more than 40,000 connections in 90 countries. Advance forges connections with the one million Australian diaspora, drawing on their experience and networks to open doors and opportunities for Australia, Australian companies and Australians around the globe.
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Would you like to study environmental science at Griffith University? Contact OzTREKK Admission Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information.

Monday, October 31st, 2016

UQ Science International Scholarships are available!

Are you considering applying to a UQ Science program? There are international scholarships for that!

UQ Science International Scholarships are available for outstanding international students in undergraduate or postgraduate coursework programs.

UQ Science International Scholarships

Apply for a UQ Science International Scholarship

Award value: AU$3,000 or AU$10,000 depending on the award

Applications close: December 1, 2016

To be eligible for a UQ Science International Scholarship, you must

  • be classified as an international student in Australia
  • have an unconditional or a conditional offer (with all conditions met by the scholarship closing date) from UQ
  • for undergraduate programs, have completed senior high school and obtained an entry score that equates to a Queensland Tertiary Education rank of 96 or higher
  • for postgraduate programs, have completed an undergraduate degree and obtained a GPA (Grade Point Average) of 6 or higher on a 7-point scale
  • not have already commenced your studies at UQ, even if you seek a change of program
  • not simultaneously hold another scholarship
  • for the Full Degree Scholarships: be an international student enrolling in year one of a UQ Faculty of Science full degree program
  • for the Advanced Standing Scholarships: be an international student enrolling in a UQ Faculty of Science program with advanced standing (credit articulation)

About the award

Two different scholarships are available:

  • The Full Degree Scholarship is awarded to students enrolling in year one of a UQ Faculty of Science full degree program and is a single payment of AU$10,000
  • The Advanced Standing Scholarship is awarded to students enrolling in a UQ Faculty of Science program with advanced standing (credit articulation), for example on the basis of previous study at a Polytechnic, and is a single payment of AU$3,000.

Selection criteria

Following the closing date, UQ will select winners based on a competitive, merit-based process, based on

  • candidate’s academic performance as demonstrated by their Grade Point Averages (GPA)
  • Candidate’s potential to contribute to science, assessed on the basis of their personal statements

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Would you like more information about applying for a UQ Science International Scholarship? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

JCU environmental researchers say world wilderness declining

A research team including environmental sciences Professor William Laurance from James Cook University has discovered there has been a catastrophic decline in global wilderness areas during the past 20 years.

Sydney Dental School

An altiplano wilderness high in the Colombian Andes. (Photo: William Laurance)

The team showed that since the 1990s, one-tenth of all global wilderness has vanished—an area twice the size of Alaska. The Amazon and Central Africa have been hardest hit.

The findings underscore an urgent need for international policies to recognise the value of wilderness and to address unprecedented threats to it, the researchers said.

“Environmental policies are failing the world’s vanishing wildernesses,” said Professor Laurance.

“Despite being strongholds for imperiled biodiversity, regulating local climates, and sustaining many indigenous communities, wilderness areas are vanishing before our eyes.”

The research team, led by James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland, mapped biologically and ecologically intact landscapes free of any significant human disturbance around the globe. The researchers then compared their current map of the wilderness to one produced by the same means in the early 1990s.

Their updated map shows that 30 million square kilometres (23 percent of the world’s land area) still survives as wilderness, with the majority being located in North America, North Asia, North Africa and Australia.

However, an estimated 3.3 million square kilometres of wilderness area was destroyed in the past 20 years. Losses have been greatest in South America, which suffered a 30 percent loss of its wilderness, and Africa, which experienced a 14 percent loss.

“The amount of wilderness lost in just two decades is both staggering and saddening. International policies are urgently needed to maintain surviving wilderness before it’s too late. We probably have just one or two decades to turn this crisis around,” said Professor Laurance.

Prof. Laurance said the United Nations and other international bodies have ignored globally significant wilderness areas in key multilateral environmental agreements, and that has to change.

“Once a wilderness is lost, it almost never comes back,” said Prof. Laurance. “The only option is to proactively protect the wilderness we have left.”

Reference: James Watson, Danielle Shanahan, Moreno Di Marco, James Allan, William Laurance, Eric Sanderson, Brendan Mackey, and Oscar Venter. 2016. “Catastrophic Declines in Wilderness Areas Undermine Global Environment Targets”.  Current Biology, http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)30993-9 /  DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.08.049′

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Learn more about the interesting and challenging environmental sciences programs available at JCU. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Can you teach a koala new tricks?

Griffith University researchers have found that koalas are more clever than they thought them to be in a world-first study that tracked the Australian animal more comprehensively than ever before in suburban Brisbane.

The Griffith Environmental Futures Research Institute team, made up of Cathryn Dexter, Justin Scott and Professor Darryl Jones, verified 130 crossings by koalas involving a retrofitted structure or eco-passage over a 30-month period.

Sydney Dental School

Can a koala learn new tricks? Studies say absolutely! (Photo credit: Griffith University)

The findings were released in a paper titled Using complementary remote detection methods for retrofitted eco-passages: a case study for monitoring individual koalas in south-east Queensland published by the CSIRO July 26.

Professor Darryl Jones of the Griffith School of Environment said nobody knew whether the structures would actually keep koalas safe from being hit by cars or if they would work.

“We expected the animals to take a while to get used to them,” he said.

“To our great surprise they were using them three weeks into it. Can you teach koalas new tricks? You can; that’s the point. I was the first skeptical person to say they’re not that smart.”

The team used a range of technologies that allowed them to not just generically monitor whether koalas passed through the crossing but pinpointed individual koalas and the exact time they entered and left the tunnel.

Using camera traps, audio radio transmitters, RFID tags (similar to microchips in pets) and WIDs (wireless ID tags)—which act like RFID tags but can be detected from a much greater distance—they gathered more information than any previous research.

The WIDs were developed by two Griffith graduates Rob Appleby and Jason Edgar who now run their own wildlife monitoring company, Wild Spy, and were a part of the research.

“This is all about trying to make absolutely sure that koalas are using some of the structures we’ve put out for them to get safely under roads,” Professor Jones said.

“Knowing how they do that is really difficult. You can get photos but you don’t know if it’s the same animal each time.

“The essence of this you can get really import information using a range of technologies at the same time. That’s a world first. Nobody has done that so comprehensively before.

“We really wanted to know what individual koalas were doing, whether they crossed at the same time each day. We wanted more information than most people ever need and we did that using this range of technologies.”

Professor Jones said most people living in suburban Brisbane or parts of the Gold Coast did not realise koalas lived all around them and that these structures were keeping them safe in their backyards and off the roads.

The research was supported by funding from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, which was responsible for the structures.

“The tunnels were an experiment,” Professor Jones said. “Nobody knew whether they would work or not. We really wanted to know what the local koala was doing so we got ridiculous amount of details of these animals.

“We needed to be clear on whether they were successful because the structures were so innovative and risky that we tried really hard to prove it. That’s why it was worth it.

“Although we don’t want the koalas to be disturbed, all over the place on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane there are special koala specific tunnels and ledges that are allowing them to cross. Those animals are not going to be hit anymore so that’s good news.

The crossings studied in Brisbane were within the jurisdictions of Brisbane City, Redland City and Moreton Bay Regional Council.

Traffic volumes for this region are predicted to increase by 19 per cent, or 2.8 million trips per day between 2006 and 2031.

The paper states: “The continuous clearing of koala habitat for development has placed a great deal of pressure on local koala populations and the risk of vehicle strike is recognised as a key threatening process for ongoing koala persistence in this region.

“The focus must shift from studies that simply assess how many species pass through an eco-passage (i.e., presence), to those that assess the utilisation level by individuals.

“Such information will represent a powerful step forward in providing road authorities with recommendations in relation to the design and placement of crossing structures, and ensuring that the costs equal the ecological benefit.”

Griffith School of Environment

The Griffith School of Environment was thought of as revolutionary; today it is more important than ever. Over that time the environment and sustainable practice has evolved from a fringe issue to a mainstream challenge to government, industry and even individual households. Griffith is helping society to face those challenges.

The university has expanded on their initial programs to offer not only environmental and natural sciences but also urban planning and architecture with a focus on sustainable development. Griffith University’s undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs include

  • architecture;
  • ecology;
  • environmental sciences;
  • environmental management;
  • marine science; and
  • urban and environmental planning.

The school has the largest group of environmental professionals in any university in Australia, and among the largest in the world.

Apply to Griffith University School of Environment!

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Would you like more information about studying environmental sciences at Griffith University? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Barrier Reef rodent is first mammal declared extinct due to climate change

University of Queensland and Queensland Government researchers have confirmed that the Bramble Cay melomys—the only mammal species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef—is the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change.

In a newly published report, the scientists conducted a comprehensive survey in 2014 but failed to find any trace of the rodent.

Barrier Reef rodent is first mammal declared extinct due to climate change

The Bramble Cay melomys (Photo: UQ)

The rodent was known only to live on a small (4 ha) coral cay, just 340m long and 150m wide in the Torres Strait, between Queensland in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“Because a limited survey in March 2014 failed to detect the species, Bramble Cay was revisited from August to September 2014, with the explicit aims of establishing whether the Bramble Cay melomys still persisted on the island and to enact emergency measures to conserve any remaining individuals,” Dr Luke Leung of the UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences said.

“A thorough survey effort involving 900 small animal trap-nights, 60 camera trap-nights and two hours of active daytime searches produced no records of the species, confirming that the only known population of this rodent is now extinct.

“Anecdotal information obtained from a professional fisherman who visited Bramble Cay annually for the past 10 years suggested that the last known sighting of the Bramble Cay melomys was made in late 2009.”

Dr Leung said the key factor responsible for the destruction of this population was almost certainly ocean inundation of the low-lying cay, very likely on multiple occasions, during the past decade, causing dramatic habitat loss and perhaps also direct mortality of individuals. The cay sits at most 3m above sea level.

“Available information about sea-level rise and the increased frequency and intensity of weather events producing extreme high water levels and damaging storm surges in the Torres Strait region over this period point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys,” he said.

Dr Leung said the fact that exhaustive efforts had failed to record the rodent at its only known location and extensive surveys had not found it on any other Torres Strait or Great Barrier Reef island gave him confidence in the assertion that Australia had lost another mammal species.

“Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change.

“However, new information is provided in support of a previously presented hypothesis that the Fly River delta of Papua New Guinea is a possible source of the original melomys population on Bramble Cay, so the Bramble Cay melomys or a closely related species might occur there. “

Dr Leung said it could be premature to declare the Bramble Cay melomys extinct on a global scale.

The study was led by Ian Gynther from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and in partnership with UQ researchers Natalie Waller and Luke Leung.

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Are you interested in studying climate change and other environmental sciences programs at the University of Queensland? Contact OzTREKK’s Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.