Inbox and Environment News: Issue 266 

  June 5 - 11, 2016: Issue 266

Coastal Management Bill passes

The Coastal Management Bill 2016 has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and is now awaiting assent.

More in his week's Aquatics Feature 

National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Adjustment of Areas) Bill 2016 

The National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Adjustment of Areas) Bill 2016 was passed on May 31st, 2016. There is provision within this to facilitate the upgrade of Mona vale Road, Stage 3 by taking an area of about 0.768 hectare, from the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park  Part of the speeches during the Reading of this Bill focused on the necessity to make provision for a fauna bridge.

Compensatory land will be offered by Roads and Maritime Services, in almost two hectares of land being added to the adjoining Garigal National Park. This will include land surrounding Whale Rock, a significant Aboriginal rock engraving, which will greatly benefit from increased protection under the reserve system.'

Overview of Bill

The object of this Bill is to amend the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974:

(a) to change the reservation of Ben Halls Gap National Park (which consists of about 3,018 hectares) to a nature reserve to be known as Ben Halls Gap Nature Reserve, and

(b) to change the reservation of about 2,020 hectares of Khappinghat Nature Reserve to a national park to be known as Khappinghat National Park, and

(c) to revoke the reservation of about 88.42 hectares of Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area, and

(d) to revoke the reservation of the following land and to vest the land in the Minister for the purposes of Part 11 of that Act, which enables the Minister to sell, grant leases of, dispose of or otherwise deal with the land:

(i) about 0.1 hectare of Jervis Bay National Park,

(ii) about 140.94 hectares of Kosciuszko National Park,

(iii) about 2.018 hectares of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park,

(iv) about 0.04 hectare beneath the surface of Lane Cove National Park,

(v) about 0.34 hectare of Middle Brother National Park,

(vi) about 18.5 hectares of Morton National Park,

(vii) Penrith Lakes Regional Park (which consists of about 6,656 square metres),

(viii) about 13.4 hectares of Royal National Park,

 (ix) about 1.6 hectares of Wollemi National Park,

(x) about 0.11 hectare of Yaegl Nature Reserve, and

(e) to provide that the Minister must not transfer the parts of that land currently forming part of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Middle Brother National Park, unless satisfied that appropriate compensation has been provided, and

(f) to revoke the reservation of about 86.31 hectares of land in Macquarie Pass State Conservation Area that has been transferred to the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council, following a claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

The National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Adjustment of Areas) Bill 2016  Bill (and Explanatory note) are available here  

More in: Bill To Facilitate Mona Vale Road Upgrades Passes: Vital Fauna Bridge Discussed

New protest laws commenced

June 3, 2016: EDO

Changes to laws targeting environmental protesters have commenced on June 1, 2016. The changes include new trespass offences and new offences specific to coal seam gas protests. 

Changes made to the law to broaden police powers to move people on who are part of a genuine protest and to search and seize property have not yet commenced.

The Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (interference) Act 2016 No 7 Government Gazette.

Whale of a spectacle on the way

29 May 2016

Whale watchers can expect a bumper number of sightings during the 2016 NSW whale season which kicks off this week, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.

A big year of calving in 2015 means the number of humpbacks, southern right whales and minke whales along the NSW coastline is likely to increase – and so will the likelihood of spotting them.

“The population of humpback whales passing the NSW coast is estimated to be more than 20,000 and is increasing more than 10 per cent each year,” Mr Speakman said.

“The number of people visiting NSW coastal national parks during whale season is soaring – up 39 per cent between July and October in the past five years, which we believe in large part is due to the popularity of whale watching.”

Mr Speakman said that during last year’s National Parks and Wildlife Service Wild About Whales campaign, more than $2 million in accommodation bookings was made in NSW coastal national park properties.

“National parks make up almost 50 per cent of the NSW coastline. These bookings also help support the local economy through tourism to those areas along the coastline and make NSW Australia’s best whale watching state.”

Mr Speakman reminded whale watchers who ventured into the water to keep a safe, respectful distance.

“It’s a busy time offshore for shipping and marine mammals and anyone on the water should be vigilant to avoid collision,” he said.

“All vessels including kayaks, surf skis and surfboards must remain at least 100 metres from a whale and 300 metres if there is a calf present, which are both for the safety of whale watchers and the wellbeing of the whales themselves.”

New thinking needed on environmental campaigns

June 1, 2016: James Cook University

James Cook University researchers are fine-tuning better ways to motivate people to look after the environment.

They say that current social marketing techniques have little impact on changing people’s behaviour towards the environment.

The JCU research team ran surveys of visitors to Reef HQ in Townsville measuring people’s intentions - and then six months later surveyed them on how environmentally friendly their actions actually were.

The researchers identified waste plastics as a major threat to marine life and focused their questions on whether and how people were going to reduce their use of plastic bags.

“People had good intentions, but six months later we found that life had often gotten in the way and they had not followed-up with effective action,” said JCU marketing expert, Professor Lynne Eagle.

Professor Eagle said the research showed that just providing information was not effective and that people both needed and wanted to be regularly reminded that rubbish that goes into drains or landfills often ends up in rivers and oceans.

They also identified the need for businesses to provide environmentally friendly alternatives and communication at the point of sale to encourage positive behaviours.

Professor Eagle said marketing theory had more sophisticated techniques available to encourage people to care for the environment.

“There have been very successful social marketing campaigns with clear theoretical underpinnings – the 2007 campaign to reduce water use in drought-struck south-east Queensland and ended up reducing the region’s water use by more than 22 per cent,” she said.

Professor Eagle said fishers in Victoria were also reached with the successful ‘seal the loop’ campaign that encouraged the disposal of old fishing gear in an environmentally friendly way.

The researchers are currently designing a new test campaign for ferry passengers travelling to Townsville’s Magnetic Island, with the aim of convincing the island’s more than 2000 permanent residents, as well as visitors, to become plastic bag free.

• Plastic waste makes up 80 percent of marine and coastal waste.

• Ten percent of that is whole or fragmented plastic bags.

• 4 -5 trillion plastic bags are produced each year.

Camden Gasfields Petition

AGL still have 96 coal seam gas production wells in South Western Sydney, surrounding Camden, some between 40m - 200m from family homes and schools.

While the Eastern suburbs, electorates for Mike Baird and Malcolm Turnbull MP, have zero.

As the largest growth center in Sydney there are current plans to build 35,000 new homes as close as 20m from AGLs existing coal seam gas wells.

AGL plans to stop all production in this area by 2023.  This is not acceptable. These families do not deserve 7 more years of these horrific health effects.  35,000 new homes in the same area is a health epidemic in the making.

Australian Mothers-Against-Gas started this petition with a single signature, now they need more support to help protect Camden and shut down those wells NOW.

Petition here

Keep records of your native animal pets

31 May 2016

If you hold a Native Animal Keeper Licence you must keep records and lodge them with the Office of Environment & Heritage Wildlife Team in April each year.

Licensed native animal keepers must keep accurate records of their native animal pets. The easiest way to do this is with the web-based electronic native animal keeper record book, or e-book.

The e-book is a diary to record details about the native animals you buy or dispose of. All licenced native animal keepers can register for the e-book. It’s better to use the e-book but you can also use a paper book if you don't have access to a computer.

These records help the Office of Environment and Heritage understand the extent of native animal keeping. Tracking records ensures that captive-bred animals, and not animals taken from the wild, are being bought and sold.

You can enter records into your e-book at any time but you cannot lodge records until after 1 April. We suggest regularly recording your animal holdings and transactions throughout the year, rather than at the end of the reporting period, to simplify your record keeping and lodgement. To enter records login to e-book

Failing to keep accurate records is an offence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Lodgements open each year on 1 April for the previous 12 months (April to March). 

Even if you have no animals or there has been no change to your holdings, you still must lodge records as a condition of holding a Native Animal Keeper Licence.

If you don’t have access to a computer and are keeping a paper record book, complete your records for the year and lodge these by post with the Wildlife Team:

Wildlife Licensing, National Parks and Wildlife Service 

PO Box 1967, Hurstville BC NSW 1481.

Find out more here

Seasonal fishing closure in force across NSW Hunter and Central Coast

3 Jun 2016

A four month operation targeting illegal fishing in the Hunter district is underway in a bid to crack down on non-compliant fishing activity at known hotspots in the region.

NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (NSW DPI) Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, says the hot water outlet canals of the Eraring Power Station near Lake Macquarie and other waterways on the Central Coast are closed to all methods of fishing from May 1 to August 21 between the hours of 6pm and 6am.

“The closure aims to protect juvenile fish stocks, which aggregate in large numbers in the warm water near the outlets to be able to make their way to the Lake Macquarie Recreational Fishing Haven,” Mr Tully said.

“Unacceptable levels of non-compliance during the closure period have occurred in recent years so DPI Fisheries officers will be taking a hard line approach to all incidents of non-compliance at these two locations over the next four months.

“Anyone found at these spots fishing between the closure hours can face hefty on the spot fines or prosecution.”

Offences detected in recent years include taking fish from waters protected from recreational fishing and possessing fishing gear at closed waters.

Fines for non-compliance penalties range for $75 to $500 while prosecution penalties can be up to $22,000.

“Illegal fishing activity won’t be tolerated, and our fisheries officers will work tirelessly to protect the aquatic environment and safeguard fish stocks for future generations.

“These closures are in place to protect and conserve our native fish and aquatic habitats to ensure that fishing activities remain sustainable,” said Mr Tully.

To report illegal fishing contact the Fishers Watch Phone Line on 1800 043 536 or visit

First Great Whites Caught As Part of Shark Technology Trials 

Thursday June 2, 2016: NSW Dept. of Primary Industries

The first great white sharks have been successfully caught, tagged and released into deeper waters using smart drumline technology being trialled as part of the NSW Government’s $16 million shark strategy.

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair today confirmed two females, measuring 2.35 metres and 2.8 metres and two males, measuring 2.65 metres and 2.45 metres, were caught off Evans Head Beach on the state’s Far North Coast during trials being carried out this week.

The trials are being carried out as part of the NSW Government’s $16 million strategy, which aims to better protect beachgoers from the risk of shark attack.

“This is a great example of how different technologies can be successfully used together to detect sharks off the NSW coast,” Mr Blair said.

“Since we started trialling smart drumlines Department of Primary Industries (DPI) scientists have been able to successfully tag and release bull sharks. Catching these first great whites is further proof the technology works, particularly in conjunction with other technologies.”

Aerial surveillance near Evans Head detected sharks in the region, whichtriggered DPI’s shark scientists to dispatch smart drumlines in the area.

The sharks were successfully caught, tagged with both satellite and acoustic tags before being driven out into deeper waters and released unharmed.

They have since been detected by satellite and have remained offshore in deeper waters.

Each shark tagged by NSW DPI shark scientists is monitored to gain a better understanding of its movements and behaviours.

The NSW Government’s shark scientists will continue to conduct trials of the smart drumlines along the entire stretch of the NSW coastline over the winter months.

 Tiny Sloane's Froglet Becomes Super-Sized Mosaic With The Help Of 400 Students

 Photo courtesy Office of Environment and Heritage NSW

Tiny Sloane's Froglet becomes super-sized mosaic with the help of 400 students

Media release: 2 June 2016

Around 400 NSW students created a giant mosaic on Wednesday 1 June during the lead-up to World Environment Day (5 June) at Albury, jointly organised by AlburyCity and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

Students aged from 8 - 15 years formed the super-sized artwork of a Sloane's Froglet, a threatened species and local resident. Created by Thurgoona artist Vicki Luke, the mosaic was so large a helicopter was used to capture aerial photographs.

The frog was made using a series of colourful boards carefully painted by volunteers from the Albury Volunteer Resources Bureau. Children from three local schools (Thurgoona Public School, Border Christian College and Trinity Anglican College) formed the surrounding habitat of the Froglet mosaic.

OEH Senior Threatened Species Officer Dr Dave Hunter said the Sloane's Froglet is a small frog that breeds in shallow winter flooding wetlands.

"The Albury suburb of Thurgoona is home to the largest population of Sloane's Froglets in NSW which makes this area extremely important for the species overall survival in the wild," said Dr Hunter.

"The mosaic was the centrepiece of the day but the children also participated in a number of fun activities exploring local threatened species such as the squirrel glider, corroboree frog, spider orchid and woodland birds."

Sloane's Froglet - Photo: Stuart Cohen

The Sloane's Froglet is one of almost a thousand animals and plants threatened with extinction in NSW which the NSW Government Saving our Species (SoS) program aims to secure in the wild.

The SoS program works in partnership with schools, volunteers and Councils, such as AlburyCity, to save species that are at risk of extinction.

Office of Environment and Heritage NSW - Photo: Stuart Cohen. Sloane's Froglet 


Sloane's Froglet Crinia sloanei is a small ground-dwelling frog belonging to the family Myobatrichidae. In appearance this species superficially resembles other frogs of the genus Crinia, but it can be readily identified by its call and specific physical characteristics. It is named after Patsy Littlejohn’s uncle, Ian Sloane, of Savernake, NSW, in appreciation of his support of the Littlejohn’s field studies (Murray Littlejohn, pers. Com) 

Littlejohn found this species after distinguishing its call from that of two sympatric species, Crinia signifera and Crinia parinisignifera, in the Riverina region of NSW.

Sweet Addiction - The Botanic Story of Chocolate: Live at The Calyx

Sweet Addiction is the inaugural exhibition at The Calyx, Sydney's newest attraction. Find out more and book tickets at

11 Jun 2016 - 17 Apr 2017, The Calyx, Sydney

See another side of nature and experience its stories in an unexpected way through Sweet Addiction – the botanic story of chocolate.

Sweet Addiction is the first exhibition to open in The Calyx, a world-class horticultural space and Sydney’s newest must-see attraction. 

An exhibition you can taste, touch, see, hear and smell, this is an opportunity to experience chocolate like never before. 

From the depths of a South American rainforest, journey through chocolate plantations, ancient history, a Lindt chocolate mill, and a delightful chocolatier room. See the awe-inspiring interior green wall – the southern hemisphere’s largest contiguous green wall complete with over 18,000 plants! And learn amazing things you never knew about chocolate.

Sweet Addiction is designed as a self-guided 45 minute experience. Suitable for chocaholics of all ages. Tickets on sale now, pre-purchase online to save!

The exhibition opens 11 June with interactive chocolate-themed events taking place throughout the exhibition period. 

Watch the video to get your first taste of the exhibition.


Some history of this wonderful garden which celebrates 200 years this June is in: The Royal Botanical Garden Sydney Celebrates 200 Years in 2016

New Era In Land Management and Conservation

Tuesday, 3 May 2016: NSW OEH Media Release

The NSW Government has released its consultation package to overhaul ineffective, complicated environmental laws and create a new system that improves both environmental outcomes and farmers’ productivity.

Under the new system, routine farm work would be exempt from regulation, farmers would be able to plan for the future to improve their productivity, and the government would provide farmers with incentives to conserve native plants and trees on their land.

The reforms would also protect and enhance the environment with an historic investment of $240 million over five years in private land conservation, $70 million in each following year and $100 million dedicated over five years to the “Saving Our Species” program.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said the NSW Government was delivering on its commitment to repeal the Native Vegetation Act and create laws that both protect the environment and give farmers a fair go.

“For too long the burden of these laws has rested on the shoulders of farmers – and I am

proud we are one step closer to repealing this legislation and delivering on the independent panel’s recommendations to reform land management in this state,” Mr Grant said.

Environment Minister Mark Speakman said the new laws would take a strategic approach to conservation and would complement the Commonwealth’s biodiversity protections.

“We are delivering a simple and effective way to use and protect land that is backed by record government investment to build a network of conserved lands on private property.

“We have tough measures to protect endangered ecological communities supported by Commonwealth protections that will conserve our biodiversity for future generations.”

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the reforms would give farmers an opportunity to make informed choices on what works best for their land.

“Our farmers are our frontline environmental custodians and it makes sense to give them the flexibility to manage and protect the land that is the lifeblood of our regional communities.”

The reform package will:

• Ensure land clearing is assessed under a single set of rules, simplifying the task of farmers in managing their land

• Conserve biodiversity at a bioregional level

• Give landholders incentives to conserve biodiversity on private land

• Reverse the historical decline of biodiversity in NSW

Drafts of the new Biodiversity Conservation Act and amended Local Land Services Act are on public exhibition and open for submissions for the next eight weeks. Details:

Have Your Say: 

Members of the public are invited to submit their feedback on the proposed biodiversity conservation reform package.

• Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill (PDF, 755KB) 

• Draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill (PDF, 394KB) 

The submission guides provide detailed information for members of the public to provide constructive feedback. The guides contain specific consultation questions that can help to inform the development of the reforms.

• Simplifying Land Management submission guide

• Native Vegetation Regulatory Map submission guide

• Ecologically Sustainable Development submission guide

• Protecting Native Plants and Animals submission guide

• Private Land Conservation submission guide

Written submissions can be submitted online using the form on this page or posted to:

Biodiversity Reforms - Have Your Say, Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290, Sydney South. NSW 1232

The public consultation period ends on 28 June 2016 at 5pm.

Cronulla Treatment Plant turning your fruit and vegie waste into electricty

30 May 2016

Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair has announced the start of a trial to turn food waste into renewable energy to help power the Cronulla Wastewater Treatment Plant – the first of its kind for a utility in Sydney.

Mr Blair was joined by Environment Minister and Member for Cronulla Mark Speakman to launch the trial at the plant, which is part of a push by the NSW Government to lower energy costs and customers’ bills.

“The NSW Government is committed to finding new and better ways to lower the amount of electricity we use from the grid, not only to benefit the environment, but also to reduce operating costs of utilities and lower customers’ bills,” Mr Blair said.

“This project is a great example of Sydney Water and local businesses working together to look outside the square to develop solutions to benefit the environment and the local community.

“Not only will the food waste help to generate renewable energy to power the Plant, it will also save 150,000 wheelie bins of fruit and vegetables per year from landfill – that’s 600 wheelie bins a day, five days a week.”

Environment Minister and Member for Cronulla Mark Speakman said that this project would be of great benefit to the environment and local residents.

“Renewable energy being produced from food waste will generate more than 60% of the energy the plant needs to run, which is enough to power a third of homes in Cronulla for a whole year,” Mr Speakman said.

“Fruit and vegetable waste which is typically driven many kilometres away for landfill will also now stay in Cronulla. This means fewer trucks travelling long distances and a saving of 90,000 kilometres each year.”

The three-year trial is jointly funded by Sydney Water and the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Sustainability Advantage Program.

For further information on the trial, please visit Sydney Water news  

Nyngan Scandium Project: Have Your Say

Development of an open cut mine and associated infrastructure.

Exhibition Start 25/05/2016

Exhibition End 24/06/2016

The proposal would include construction and operation of:

Two open cuts and a broow pit with extraction of up to 80 000t per year of high grade ore and up to 95 000 tpa of low grade ore over a period of 21 years.

A processing plant - A residue storage facility

Ancillory infrastructure, including but mot limited to as site access road, water management structures, levee bunds, water and power supply infrastructure.

Total area: 38.2 ha


East Pit 45mbgl

West Pit 50mbgl

Borrow Pit 15 mbgl

Easy access: 3 km from all-weather sealed road, 25 km from local town

Documents at:


About Scandium

Scandium is a chemical element with symbol Sc and atomic number 21. A silvery-white metallic d-block element, it has historically been sometimes classified as a rare earth element, together with yttrium and the lanthanoids. It was discovered in 1879 by spectral analysis of the minerals euxenite and gadolinite from Scandinavia.

Scandium is present in most of the deposits of rare earth and uranium compounds, but it is extracted from these ores in only a few mines worldwide. Because of the low availability and the difficulties in the preparation of metallic scandium, which was first done in 1937, applications for scandium were not developed until the 1970s. The positive effects of scandium on aluminium alloys were discovered in the 1970s, and its use in such alloys remains its only major application. - From Wikipedia

Palm Grove Nature Reserve Draft Plan: Have your say

What's this about?

Parks and reserves established under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 are required to have a plan of management. The plan provides guidance on key conservation and other values of the park, and provides directions for future management. The plan of management is a legal document and, after the plan is adopted, all operations and activities in the park must be in accordance with the plan.

At the conclusion of the public exhibition period in August 2016, all submissions will be comprehensively reviewed and input will be sought from the Central Coast Hunter Regional Advisory Committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council.

Once this input has been received, as required by the National Parks and Wildlife Act, a final plan will be considered for adoption by the Minister for the Environment.

Have your say

Submit your feedback by 22 August 2016 via the online consultation.

Nominations open for the 2016 NSW Green Globe Awards

Media release: NSW OEH

Nominations are now open for the 17th Green Globe Awards celebrating NSW's exceptional environmental achievements.

Ian Hunter, Deputy Chief Executive, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) said the Green Globe Awards are NSW's biggest sustainability awards, with ten award categories covering a range of resource, business, community and individual sustainability initiatives.

"The Awards are a chance to showcase NSW's green game changers nationally, internationally and celebrate the people behind the successes," Mr Hunter said.

"They provide a platform for participants to showcase innovative work, initiate projects, network and reach new audiences."

Previous winner, Chris Bins of City of Sydney, said their Green Globe Award had opened further opportunities to share their experiences and give them licence to push harder into the new horizons of sustainability.

"We've offered our Green Globe experience as an open invitation for discussion and knowledge sharing," Mr Bins said.

Brookfarm, winner of the 2015 Small Business Sustainability and Premier's Award for Environmental Excellence said since winning both awards they have implemented a rainwater harvesting system and energy management initiatives to meet new environmental certification goals.

Winner of last year's Young Sustainability Champion Award, Seda Hamoud, said her award has given her school Environmental Club an even stronger cross-school component and has allowed for greater membership.

Robin Mellon, Green Globe Award judging panel chair of chairs said the judges are excited to see this year's nominations and how nominees are reducing their environmental impacts in a diverse collection of ways.

"We look forward to seeing how their initiatives are really 'leading the pack' around NSW, Australia and hopefully around the world and how their actions are having a positive effect on businesses, people and communities," Mr Mellon said.

The NSW Green Globe Award winners set the gold standard in becoming a cleaner and greener state.

The Awards will be judged by a panel of independent experts and presented at a gala night at The Art Gallery of New South Wales in late October 2016.

Nominations are open until 11 July 2016. To enter your project, program or nominate, please go to:

Barrington Tops winter trail closures

1 June 2016

With the arrival of winter, the Barrington trail (south) and Polblue trail in Barrington Tops National Park will be closed from 1 June until 1 October 2016, for public safety.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Regional Manager Anthony Signor said the trails are closed annually during winter to protect them from damage and also as a safety precaution given the possible extreme weather conditions on the Tops during winter.

"In addition, a number of other 4WD trails will be closed this winter as outlined in the Plan of Management for Barrington Tops", Mr Signor said.

"These trails will also be closed on 1 June and re-open 1 October 2016 - as per the traditional winter trail closures", he said.

"These trails include Butchers Swamp trail, Paddys Ridge trail, Barrington trail north, Bullock Brush trail, Tugalow trail and Thunderbolts trail - between Pheasants Creek Road and Barrington Tops Forest Road.

"These additional seasonally closed trails are only closed to vehicles and motorbikes, they may still be accessed on foot, mountain bike or horseback (on approved trails). Access to Gummi Falls campground during this period is only permitted by foot or mountain bike.

"These 4WD trails can become extremely wet during winter months and with the cold, short days, they do not dry out. Such conditions increase the chance of damage from vehicles and sudden changes in weather could mean visitors being caught out and possibly stranded", Mr Signor said.

"The main road from Gloucester to Scone remains open but motorists are advised to drive to conditions and travel with care", he said.

For further information about Barrington Tops National Park, please contact NPWS Barrington Tops area office at Gloucester on (02) 6538 5300 or NPWS Upper Hunter area office at Scone on (02) 6540 2300.

New research centre offers insights into Distress of Farmers in Murray-Darling Basin

Thursday, 2 June 2016:  University of Adelaide 

Research from a new centre at the University of Adelaide has highlighted the distress being faced by primary producers in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, with almost two-thirds of horticulture farmers and more than half of dairy farmers thinking of selling up in the next five years.

The findings come from the University's new Centre for Global Food and Resources, to be launched tonight in Adelaide. The Centre brings together all aspects of food production, food consumption and natural resources, spanning the economic and environmental health of food and water as well as its social impact.

"Our new Centre builds on the University's reputation as a leader in research and policy with a focus on real outcomes for agriculture, food and water industries and the community," says the Centre's Executive Director, Professor Wendy Umberger.

"People often talk about 'healthy' food as though it's all about nutritional value, but there are so many aspects of food and agriculture that we need to consider in order to make the entire system truly healthy, resilient and productive. Our Centre addresses economic, policy, sustainability and social issues affecting food systems and water resources, not only in Australia but also in global markets," Professor Umberger says.

The six key areas of research for the new Centre are: Food and Agricultural Policy; Water Policy; Resilient Landscapes; Healthy Societies; International Development; and Food Systems Innovation.

Among the many projects being conducted by the Centre for Global Food and Resources is a long-term analysis of farming stress and rural community pressures in the Murray-Darling Basin. This study is being led by one of the Centre’s senior researchers and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow, Associate Professor Sarah Wheeler.

The survey of more than 1000 irrigators in the southern Murray-Darling Basin revealed that at the beginning of 2016, horticultural farmers faced the highest distress levels, followed by dairy farmers, broadacre farmers, then livestock farmers.

Associate Professor Wheeler says: "Horticultural farmers in the southern Murray-Darling Basin are much more likely to have thought about leaving the farm, with 57% of those surveyed thinking about leaving in the past five years, and 52% of dairy farmers also thinking about leaving. Intention to sell in the next five years is even higher: 63% of horticultural farmers and 54% of dairy farmers have said they are intending to sell.

"The horticultural result was driven mainly by answers from viticultural farmers who have faced falling grape prices in recent years.

"The study also revealed that dairy farmers had the highest absolute debt levels in the Murray-Darling Basin, as well as the highest debt as a percentage of their land value. We've seen this reflected in the number of dairy irrigators selling permanent water back to the government, and this trend is likely to continue, especially given the recent dairy milk price crisis," Associate Professor Wheeler says.

Professor Umberger says: "This research is one example of the highly complex issues facing the agri-food and resource sectors, and it’s one area where we hope our research can make an impact on policy and outcomes for the benefit of producers, industry and the community."

Further information about the new Centre for Global Food and Resources can be found at:

AIMS in Western Australia - a 360 degree view

Published on 30 May 2016

The Australian Institute of Marine Science are working to build a coordinated, regional understanding of north west Australia's vast marine ecosystems. Our researchers are dedicated to discovering the whole picture of what is truly a marine frontier.

The Australian Pool makes a splash at Venice Biennale


A sophisticated homage to the humble Australian pool is the inaugural exhibition in the new Australian Pavilion at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.

UNSW Built Environment alumnus, University Medalist and architect Amelia Holliday designed The Pool, a collaborative project with Isabelle Toland and urban designer Michelle Tabet, which is the first to be presented in the striking Denton Corker Marshall-designed Australian Pavilion at the Biennale.

Toland and Holliday, who started the Sydney architecture firm Aileen Sage, describe the installation as “a lens through which to explore Australian cultural identity”.

“Be they natural or manmade, inland or coastal, temporary or permanent, visitors to the new Australian pavilion in Venice will be invited to explore the pools of Australia in all their forms,” the creators say.

Featuring a central pool, the installation uses glass, mirrors, light and perspective to expand its physical and perceptual presence, also drawing on sound and smell – the scent of smoky bushes and the air just after rain – to create a rich sensory experience.

UNSW Built Environment Dean Professor Helen Lochhead, who was on the selection panel and recently attended the Biennale, said The Pool is a “pitch perfect” contribution to the event.

“The Pool celebrates the egalitarian nature and social inclusion of the swimming pool in our culture. The Australian pool is the universal leveller, where we all participate. Most of us learn to swim. Many of us in our local pool overcome fear, face challenges, compete and excel.

“The exhibition is not only uplifting but speaks to everybody, which of course is what all good architecture should do. The team are to be congratulated. It is a Biennale highlight,”  Professor Lochhead says.

Architect and UNSW professor of practice Ken Maher, who was also a member of the selection panel, lauded the project for drawing sharp connections between "landscape, culture and architecture".

International visitors can further explore Australian culture by listening to a series of pre-recorded interviews with prominent Australians including Olympians Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould, writers Anna Funder and Christos Tsiolkas, fashion designers Romance Was Born, musician Paul Kelly, environmentalist Tim Flannery and Indigenous art curator Hetti Perkins.

The 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale runs until 27 November.

We've got tapeworms, scabies, and reproducible research

June 2, 2016

Parasitology remains a complex field given the often extreme differences between parasites, which all fall under the umbrella definition of an organism that lives in or on another organism (host) and derives nutrients at the host's expense. Published in the Open Access journal GigaScience, are articles on two parasitic organisms, scabies and the tapeworm, Schistocephalus solidus. Not only are both papers in parasitology, but the way in which these studies are presented includes a unique means for reporting the Methods that serves to improve reproducibility. Here the authors take advantage of the open access repository of scientific methods and a collaborative protocol-centered platform, New mechanisms for presenting scientific research are a must to improve reusability of scientific information.

Currently, the most common way of presenting methods in articles is in extremely brief paragraphs or as supplemental downloadable PDF files. The result is often incomplete or non-discoverable methodology: a serious problem given methodology is key for scientists to properly build on scientific discovery. The parasitology articles published today are the first two studies to showcase the seamless integration into the manuscript submission and publication process of clear, detailed, and complete methodology descriptions. The platform enables researchers to submit their methods in a standard format, with no space limitations, that can be directly linked to any article simply through a citable link. These can also be searched online, and best yet, can be versioned allowing for adaptations for future work. Not only does this allow the research community easy access to detailed methods, it also means authors don't have to continually rewrite methods for every paper that uses them. They can simply cite and credit the 'recipe' in

It seems fitting that the complexity of making scientific reporting reproducible is demonstrated in papers that capture the complexity of parasitic organisms, and, in these cases, parasites that require many different complicated experimental steps and unusual computational pipelines to study them.

In the first study, researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and 4 other Australian institutions studied the genome of the human scabies parasite collected from remote disadvantaged and indigenous communities in Northern Australia, where up to 25% of adults and 50% of children acquire scabies infections each year. Scabies infections are linked to bacterial skin infections and rheumatic fever. As a consequence of this, children with scabies do less well, and this is a contributing factor to indigenous Australians having significantly reduced life expectancy and among the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease in the world.

Until now studying this species has been challenging. Being fractions of a millimeter in size, the researchers needed to collect, per sample, about 1000 mites to obtain enough DNA for next generation sequencing. In addition to the complications of collecting and pooling the mites, their tiny size also meant they had to deal with contamination from the mite's gut contents. All of these variables can create difficulty in clearly describing how conclusions are derived and how the research can be built on. The lead author Anthony Papenfuss, discussing the challenges of communicating this work, stated: "Writing clear and accurate descriptions of the wet lab and bioinformatics methods is a challenge at the best of times. It is especially hard when the design is complex and requires iterative exploratory analysis using multiple tools. It necessitates great care and time consuming refinement of the text. I think documenting the methods using will make this much easier."

In the second paper, researchers from the Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes and University of 22 Leicester studied the molecular biology of the parasitic tapeworm Schistocephalus solidus. Despite S. solidus serving as an emblematic study system in parasitology with two centuries of research, it has an extremely complicated life-cycle with multiple developmental states and host species (parasitizing crustaceans, fish and birds). As a consequence, while there is much known about its morphology and physiology, identifying which genes are used at each stage of infection, has been comparatively lacking. The work here includes recreating the different host conditions and collecting living worms from the different life cycles to collect RNA and producing a transcriptome gene catalogue. First author François-Olivier Hébert explained: "Describing such a long process of field sampling, experimental infections in the lab using multiple hosts and, of course, the complementary bioinformatic analyses, was one of the greatest challenges in this paper." With the new integrated data and method publishing pipeline aiding this, the authors added: "We were able to achieve that by making all of our homemade scripts, programs and datasets freely available to the public through GigaScience, GigaDB and They represent essential complementary platforms that allowed us to respect our vision of a reproducible science."

Journal References:

1. Ehtesham Mofiz, Deborah C. Holt, Torsten Seemann, Bart J. Currie, Katja Fischer, Anthony T. Papenfuss. Genomic resources and draft assemblies of the human and porcine varieties of scabies mites, Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis and var. suis. GigaScience, 2016; 5 (1) DOI:10.1186/s13742-016-0129-2 

2. Hebert, F, O; Grambauer, S; Barber, I; Landry, C, R; Aubin-Horth, N.Reference transcriptome sequence resource for the study of the Cestode Schistocephalus solidus, a threespine stickleback parasite. GigaScience Database, May 2016 DOI: 10.5524/100197

Law reforms support recognition of diverse families

Thursday, 2 June 2016: University of Adelaide

The establishment of a Relationships Register and equal legal recognition for non-heterosexual couples and their families are among the recommendations of the latest report from the independent South Australian Law Reform Institute, based at the University of Adelaide.

The Institute has today released a report with 18 recommendations aimed at addressing discrimination against non-heterosexual couples in South Australia, without the need to change marriage laws.

The key recommendation is the introduction of a Relationships Register, which would allow non-heterosexual couples in South Australia to have their relationship recognised under law, including immediate recognition for visitors who have already had their relationships legally registered interstate or overseas.

"South Australia has a proud history of law reform and opposing discrimination but our current laws can operate unfairly when it comes to non-heterosexual couples and their children," says the University's Professor John Williams, Director of the SA Law Reform Institute.

"Despite positive incremental changes, South Australia still lags behind other states and territories when it comes to giving equal legal rights to gay and lesbian couples, including recognising both partners as legal parents of their children," he says.

"These issues were brought to prominence earlier this year by the unfortunate and distressing case of David Bulmer-Rizzi, who died in Adelaide while honeymooning from the United Kingdom with his husband, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi. Although the two were legally married in the UK, their relationship was not recognised under SA law.

"Among the reforms we propose today include measures that would prevent this type of discrimination, by ensuring that non-heterosexual marriages solemnised in the UK and other similar jurisdictions would be automatically recognised as registered relationships under South Australian law," Professor Williams says.

He says the potential benefits of a Relationship Register extend to both heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples: "Under the model, all unmarried couples within South Australia could apply to have their relationships legally recognised. A range of safeguards would apply, similar to those applying to couples seeking to be legally married.

"Once registered, couples would enjoy the same legal rights as married couples, including parenting presumptions, access to assisted reproductive treatment and surrogacy, employment and superannuation entitlements, and recognition upon the death of a partner.

"While it may not mirror the symbolism or social status of marriage, a Relationships Register offers a clear legal solution to the otherwise complex and challenging laws governing relationships and parenting in South Australia."

A Relationships Register is currently in force in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria, and is similar to the civil unions model in the Australian Capital Territory.

This model would be supported by further reforms to ensure that all South Australians can start a family through services such as IVF and altruistic surrogacy, regardless of their sexual orientation or relationship status, provided other safeguards are met.

This report forms part of the Institute's broader work – at the request of the South Australian Government – to examine laws that discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. The report has been prepared following extensive community consultation and research, beginning with a detailed audit report and including a community roundtable to hear directly from families impacted by the current laws.

The full report can be found here

Introducing Camazotz: A Platform for Sustainable Tracking

Published on 30 May 2016 - by CSIRO

Camazotz is a wearable device developed for wildlife and animals, to allow researchers to track their movements across the landscape. The technology provides autonomous tracking that can run near perpetually without any human intervention. Other applications for Camozotz include logistics, transport, defence, personal safety and even tracking bicycles and hikers in remote places.

New review investigates health benefit of contact with natural environment

June 2, 2016

A team of Cochrane authors based in the UK and led by an academic from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, has carried out a review investigating the health benefit of contact with the natural environment.

The team found that, while the majority of quantitative studies reported no effect on health and well-being, there was limited evidence to suggest positive effects on self-reported health, quality of life and physical activity levels. Small numbers of participants reported increased mental fatigue and greater feelings of anxiety.

The review comes at a time when there is growing research and policy interest in the potential for using the natural environment to enhance human health and well-being. It is thought that contact with the natural environment has a positive impact on health and well-being.

Outdoor environmental enhancement and conservation activities include unpaid litter picking, tree planting or path maintenance. It is thought that these offer opportunities for physical activity alongside greater connection with local environments, enhanced social connections within communities, and improved self-esteem, which may, in turn, further improve well-being for the individual.

The team worked with Cochrane Public Health to assess the health and well-being impacts on adults following participation in environmental enhancement and conservation activities. Participants were adult volunteers or were referred by a healthcare professional.

The nineteen studies reviewed included numerical data (quantitative) and text from interviews (qualitative), together with data from 3,603 participants who came from the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

The qualitative studies illustrate the experiences of people taking part, and their perceptions of the benefits. People reported feeling better. They liked the opportunity for increased social contact, especially if they had been socially isolated through, for example, mental ill-health. They also valued a sense of achievement, being in nature and provision of a daily structure.

"Research into this area is not very robust and quality of the design and reporting is low, therefore we cannot draw any definite conclusions about any positive or negative effects. However, participants perceived that there was a benefit," said Dr Kerryn Husk, research fellow from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and the lead author of theCochrane Review.

He added: "We were able to develop a conceptual framework that illustrates the range of interlinked mechanism through which people believe they potentially achieved health and well-bring benefits. We hope this will help future research on this this topic."

Kerryn Husk, Rebecca Lovell, Chris Cooper, Will Stahl-Timmins, Ruth Garside. Participation in environmental enhancement and conservation activities for health and well-being in adults: a review of quantitative and qualitative evidence. The Cochrane Library, May 2016 DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD010351.pub2

Dairy Avoidance Reaches Dangerous Levels, Especially for Australian Women 

June 1st, 2016: CSIRO

A study has found for the first time that one in six adult Australians are choosing to avoid milk and dairy foods, the majority without a medical diagnosis, leading to public health concerns for women in particular.

The survey, undertaken by CSIRO and the University of Adelaide, found that the vast majority of avoiders (74%) are making this choice to relieve adverse gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, bloating or wind.

Far fewer participants cited not liking the taste or because they thought it’s fattening for not including diary in their diets.

The study also revealed that the decision to avoid some or all dairy foods is influenced by a range of sources from outside medical practice such as the internet, media, friends or alternative practitioners.

CSIRO’s Bella Yantcheva, behavioural scientist on the research team, explains the significance of the findings.

“The scale of people restricting their diet without a medical reason is very concerning in terms of the public health implications, especially for women.

“It means there is potential for nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, or the risk that an underlying health condition could be going untreated,” she said.

Dairy foods are important for all of us, but especially for women owing to the calcium content, and foods from the dairy and alternatives group are important throughout life to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

However, the study revealed that more women are avoiding milk and dairy foods than men.

These results follow the team’s similar findings on wheat avoidance, which showed around ten times as many Australians than diagnosed with coeliac disease are avoiding wheat-based foods.

The study reveals that even more people are avoiding dairy products and, in fact, that around one third of the respondents avoiding dairy foods are also avoiding wheat-based foods.

“The numbers show that cutting out significant, basic food groups isn’t a fad but something far more serious,” said Ms Yantcheva.

According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, dairy and grain-based foods are important for a balanced diet.

They contribute significantly to our intake of fibre, protein and a wide range of essential vitamins and nutrients, on top of calcium in dairy’s case.

“It’s not just about missing out on the food type being avoided and risking your health, but also possibly overconsuming other foods to compensate as well,” Ms Yantcheva said.

The paper is published in this month's issue of Public Health Nutrition.  

Fast facts

A study by CSIRO and the University of Adelaide reveals that one in six adult Australians are choosing to avoid milk and dairy foods, the majority without a medical diagnosis.

Three quarters (74%) of avoiders are avoiding milk and dairy foods to relieve adverse gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, bloating or wind.

The study showed that more women are avoiding milk and dairy foods than men although dairy foods are especially important for women owing to the calcium content.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt have various health benefits and are a good source of many nutrients, including calcium, protein, iodine, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and zinc (Source: Australian Dietary Guidelines).

For women aged 19-50 years, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend two and half serves of dairy or dairy alternatives per day, increasing to four serves per day after the age of 50. Men between the ages of 19 and 70 years should consume two and half serves a day, and increase to three and half serves after the age of 70 years. A serve of dairy is equal to 250mls of milk, two slices or 40g of cheese, or a 200g tub of yogurt.

See your doctor if you have any concerns about your health.

Photo: CSIRO researcher and one of the authors of the paper, Dr Sinead Golley.

New devices, wearable system aim to predict, prevent asthma attacks

June 1, 2016

This is an early prototype of the wristband used in the Health and Environmental Tracker (HET), an integrated, wearable system that monitors a user's environment, heart rate and other physical attributes with the goal of predicting and preventing asthma attacks. Credit: James Dieffenderfer

Researchers have developed an integrated, wearable system that monitors a user's environment, heart rate and other physical attributes with the goal of predicting and preventing asthma attacks. The researchers plan to begin testing the system on a larger subject population this summer.

The system, called the Health and Environmental Tracker (HET), is composed of a suite of new sensor devices and was developed by researchers from the National Science Foundation's Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) at North Carolina State University.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma affects more than 24 million people in the United States. Asthma patients currently rely on inhalers to deal with their symptoms, which can include often-debilitating asthma attacks.

"Our goal was to design a wearable system that could track the wellness of the subjects and in particular provide the infrastructure to predict asthma attacks, so that the users could take steps to prevent them by changing their activities or environment," says Alper Bozkurt, the principal investigator of a paper describing the work and an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State.

"Preventing an attack could be as simple as going indoors or taking a break from an exercise routine," says James Dieffenderfer, lead author of the paper and a Ph.D. student in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The HET system incorporates a host of novel sensing devices, which are incorporated into a wristband and a patch that adheres to the chest.

The patch includes sensors that track a patient's movement, heart rate, respiratory rate, the amount of oxygen in the blood, skin impedance and wheezing in the lungs.

The wristband focuses largely on environmental factors, monitoring volatile organic compounds and ozone in the air, as well as ambient humidity and temperature. The wristband also includes additional sensors to monitor motion, heart rate and the amount of oxygen in the blood.

The system also has one nonwearable component: a spirometer, which patients breathe into several times a day to measure lung function.

"Right now, people with asthma are asked to use a peak flow meter to measure lung function on a day-to-day basis," Dieffenderfer says. "That information is used to inform the dosage of prescription drugs used in their inhalers.

"For HET, we developed a customized self-powered spirometer, which collects more accurate information on lung function and feeds that data into the system," Dieffenderfer adds.

Data from all of these sensors is transmitted wirelessly to a computer, where custom software collects and records the data.

"The uniqueness of this work is not simply the integration of various sensors in wearable form factors," says Veena Misra, co-author of the paper and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State. "The impact here is that we have been able to demonstrate power consumption levels that are in the sub-milliwatt levels by using nano-enabled novel sensor technologies. Comparable, existing devices have power consumption levels in the hundreds of milliwatts.

"This ultra-low power consumption is important because it gives the devices a long battery life, and will make them compatible with the power generated by the body -- which is not a lot," says Misra, who is also the director of the ASSIST Center. "It enables a pathway to realize the ASSIST Center's vision of self-powered wearable sensors in the near future."

"We have tested the system in the benchtop and on a limited number of human subjects for proof of concept demonstration and have confirmed that all of the sensors work, and that the system accurately compiles the data," Misra says. "This summer, we plan to begin testing HET in a controlled environment with subjects suffering from asthma and a control group, in order to identify which environmental and physiological variables are effective at predicting asthma attacks."

"Once we have that data, the center can begin developing software that will track user data automatically and give users advance warning of asthma attacks," says Bozkurt, who as testbed leader of the ASSIST Center is overseeing HET system integration. "And that software will allow users to synch the HET to their smartphones so that they can monitor their health on the go. After these tests are completed, and the prediction software created, we are hoping that a fully functional HET system will be available."

James Dieffenderfer, Henry Goodell, Steven Mills, Michael McKnight, Shanshan Yao, Feiyan Lin, Eric Beppler, Brinnae Bent, Bongmook Lee, Veena Misra, Yong Zhu, Omer Oralkan, Jason Strohmaier, john muth, David Peden, Alper Bozkurt. Low Power Wearable Systems for Continuous Monitoring of Environment and Health for Chronic Respiratory Disease. IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics, 2016; 1 DOI:10.1109/JBHI.2016.2573286

Dragonfly considered most primitive in world lives in Tasmania and is not Extinct

May 31, 2016

The dragonfly Hemiphlebia mirabilis lives in Australia and Tasmania.Credit: Adolfo Cordero-Rivera

The dragonfly considered the most primitive in the world lives in Australia and Tasmania, and was believed to be extinct four decades ago. But it is far from being so. A Spanish researcher has observed thousands of these insects in one of the few habitats in which it has been detected and it displays sexual behaviour that is unique, not only directed towards reproduction.

Hemiphlebia mirabilis is a rare species in every sense: it is the most primitive dragonfly known to man, it has unique reproductive behaviours and was believed to be extinct in the 70s. Fascinated by this living fossil, researcher Adolfo Cordero-Rivera travelled to Australia, where it is endemic, to gather information on the mating system of a population that started to be seen again in 2009.

After an intensive month of observations, the researcher in the University of Vigo (Spain) showed that the species is far from being extinct: "I found thousands of individuals, which is very good news since there was much concern for this species." As he explains in the journal 'Insect Conservation and Diversity'.

Although the work aimed to obtain basic information on the reproductive behaviour of this dragonfly and study the development of the sperm competition mechanisms in this very primitive species, the scientist also shows that, contrary to what was believed, the populations are large. "The number of individuals per generation possibly exceeds 1 million," he states in the study.

This population that lives in the Long Swamp wetland in Victoria, in the south of Australia, has a life expectancy of one week for the males and four days for the females. Moreover, the males show little mobility and fly short distances, remaining inactive most of the time, especially in temperatures below 17ºC or above 35ºC.

"This low mobility, together with its enigmatic colouring and the limited accessibility of its habitat could explain how these important populations have remained unnoticed until a very short while ago," Cordero-Rivera said. Despite having experienced certain limitations due to carrying out the research alone, the expert could estimate a density of 100 animals for each 10 m2 in points of high population.

For this reason, Cordero-Rivera suggests that this species of dragonfly should no longer be considered a species in critical danger of extinction. "With the information now available, Hemiphlebia mirabilis no longer satisfies any of the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and should be re-evaluated," says the researcher.

Unique sexual behaviour

But the aspect which undoubtedly makes them more visible to the human eye is their sexual behaviour. What surprised the researcher most was that both sexes showed frequent abdominal flicking displays and fast rotations over the perching support. "This behaviour is highly elaborate and is absolutely unique," says the scientist from the Galician university who immortalised the movements in video. The copulation behaviour has been analysed in a second article that has just been published in the journal 'PeerJ'.

This work is the first to quantify adult behaviour of the Hemiphlebia mirabilisusing a large sample of both sexes. When studying these insects, the scientist observed that the unique movement is not only produced immediately after landing, but also while they continue to sit.

Although Cordero-Rivera could not confirm whether the females and males use this abdominal flicking to attract the opposite sex, he could confirm that both sexes practice this movement even in the absence of any reproductive interaction.

"This suggests that this behaviour is not an ordinary courtship display," affirmed the scientist. According to the researcher, the males use the abdominal movement in the pre-copulatory courtship, but the females don't. After more than 100 hours of observation, the scientist did not see any of the females lay eggs.

"I observed 79 females for periods of 10 minutes between 9:00am and 7:00pm, and the only clear conclusion is that oviposition will not be in tandem, because in all cases males and females separated immediately after copulation," says the scientist who is continuing with the study of sexual behaviour of this peculiar and unique dragonfly.

What has been demonstrated is that, like the most recent species of the Odonata order, the male H. mirabilis are capable of extracting the semen of rivals from inside the body of the female. "This suggests that this much specialised behaviour is very old in the evolution of the Odonata," he concludes.

Adolfo Cordero-Rivera. Demographics and adult activity ofHemiphlebia mirabilis: a short-lived species with a huge population size (Odonata: Hemiphlebiidae). Insect Conservation and Diversity, 2016; 9 (2): 108 DOI:10.1111/icad.12147

Research investigates how mobile apps can help people with disabilities

Thursday 26 May 2016: Curtin University

Curtin University researchers have been awarded the 2016 Dr Louisa Alessandri Research Grant to investigate how smartphone applications could be used by people with disabilities to mitigate the effects of their impairments and potentially improve social inclusion.

Dr Mike Kent, Curtin’s Head of Department of Internet Studies and lead on the study, said smartphones could enable people with disabilities to more effectively traverse the urban environment.

“Throughout Australia people with limited mobility use mobile apps to plan journeys by taking into account elevation and gradients of ramps, numbers of steps, internal routing in stations, proximity to accessible parking, ground surfaces etc,” Dr Kent said.

“Internationally, people with vision impairments sync their phones to crosswalks which then transmit instructions audibly, based on where the user wants to go.

“Mobile devices and accessible applications have become an integral part of how Australians with disabilities navigate through urban spaces in their day-to-day lives.”

The $40,000 grant will support a pilot study to investigate the ways people with disabilities use their smartphones to navigate and experience urban space to discover the effectiveness of this technology in decreasing the social isolation of people with disabilities.

Researchers will collect data from participants with both mobility and vision impairments across three different locations around Perth using a newly developed mobile phone app.

The app will allow them to capture participants’ phone use at regular intervals in order to establish when and where different phone functions are being used.

Dr Kent said the data collected from the app would be used alongside quantitative data gathered during interviews with the participants, as well as data visualisations created at Curtin’s Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch (HIVE).

“We will use the HIVE to visualise the ways people with disabilities navigate the urban environment of the city of Perth, Curtin University and Bunbury,” Dr Kent said.

“The research will deliver results that people with disabilities can use in the short term, but will also identify key areas for future research and contribute to the generation of new research on people with disabilities’ smartphone usage.

“We hope this research will give us an insight into how we can offer enhanced support and services to those with a disability and increase their independence and improve access to information,” Dr Kent said.

The grant was presented by the Minister for Planning and Disability Services, The Hon. Donna Faragher, at an event on the Bentley campus on 25 May 2016.

Further in kind support has been provided by Media Access Australia.

It is anticipated the results of the study will be released in October 2016.

What is love?

Published on 29 May 2016: by CSIRO

When the age old adage of, "you'll know it when you feel it" just won't do. We look deeper into what causes us to love. 

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.