Inbox and Environment News - Issue 198
January 18 - 24, 2015: Issue 198
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UNSW World-First Online registry will help cancer patients preserve their fertility
13 January 2015
In a world-first, the Randwick Hospitals Campus and UNSW Australia have launched an online registry that will capture a cancer patient’s journey from diagnosis through to survivorship, and which can be used to help them plan for a family.
The Australasian Oncofertility Registry and website will collect international data from participating cancer and fertility centres about referrals to and uptake of fertility preservation in children, adolescents, young adults and adults; as well as collecting data on the fertility potential (ability to have a child) in cancer patients after diagnosis.
The Registry and website have been developed by the collaborative Fertility Understanding Through Registry and Evaluation (FUTuRE Fertility Research Group), based at UNSW and the Randwick Hospitals Campus – Prince of Wales Hospital, Royal Hospital for Women and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.
The Group is led by Dr Antoinette Anazodo, Chief Investigator and Paediatric and Adolescent Cancer Specialist, Sydney Youth Cancer Service.
“Once a cancer patient finishes treatment, they may not be able to accurately recall the drugs or treatment received as a result of their diagnosis. As some cancer drugs can cause reproductive challenges, the Registry will be able to assist cancer patients and survivors by providing information at a later date when they choose to start their family,” Dr Anazodo said.
Dr Anazodo said outcomes generated from the Registry will also assist cancer clinicians in providing accurate risk projections for a patient’s future infertility after cancer treatment.
“There is currently a major gap between acute cancer management and the implications for all patients’ future fertility,’’ she said
“This collaboration will allow for the development of further opportunities to bridge the gap between cancer and fertility disciplines, and effectively communicate fertility preservation options and strategies to patients at the time of diagnosis and before starting treatment.
“Findings will also assist clinicians in providing accurate risk projections for future infertility and reproductive health following cancer treatment,’’ she said.
UNSW Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology William Ledger, who is based at the Royal Hospital for Women, said barriers for fertility preservation and uptake may include a lack of standardised guidelines and referral pathways from cancer to fertility specialists.
“The difference in or lack of specialist advice, limited outcome data regarding safety and efficacy in cancer patients, fertility preservation costs and psychosocial distress are currently barriers for providing accurate fertility options to cancer patients,’’ Professor Ledger said.
“This research via the Registry will lead to the development of evidence-based national guidelines surrounding the referral process from oncologist to fertility specialist. These standardised guidelines will have the potential to encourage continued collaboration between cancer and fertility specialists,’’ he said.
One of the key aims of the Group, through the Registry, is to instil a best-practice model for cancer specialists to discuss the impact a cancer diagnosis or treatment can have on a patient’s fertility and the options and strategies available to cancer patients for preserving their fertility.
In guiding the Registry, Dr Anazodo and her team have developed the first Australasian Oncofertility Charter with the input from adolescent, young adult and adult cancer patients and parents.
“This Charter outlines eight essential elements of ‘gold standard’ oncofertility care we are aspiring to achieve across Australia and New Zealand. Data from the Registry will help us track the progress in achieving these goals,’’ Dr Anazodo said.
“It is the belief of all our patients and supporters that cancer patients should be given equitable access to pioneering fertility preservation techniques if appropriate, in the hope that they will one day be able to have a biological family.’’
The FUTuRE Fertility website is an informative resource centre for both cancer patients and health professionals interested in the area of oncofertility.
The website conveys detailed fertility and sexual health information sheets for cancer patients of all ages about what they may experience throughout their cancer journey, in order to make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health; as well as providing resources and tools for cancer and reproductive health professionals.
The Australasian Oncofertiltiy Registry and website was made possible through funding support from Salesforce, The Kids Cancer Centre, Fertility Society of Australia, CanTeen and Sydney Logos.
For more information about the work of the FUTuRE Fertility Research Group, see: www.futureferility.com.au orwww.futurefertility.co.nz or follow the group on Twitter via: ANZOncofert Registry @ANZoncofert
National Anthem of STRAYA (to the tune of Hey Ya)by coachbombaymusic
Published on Jan 12, 2015
Outkast's 'Hey Ya' reworked into the unofficial national anthem of 'Straya' (a.k.a Australia).
Abbot Point Port and Wetlands strategy
QLD Government Media Release - 13th January, 2015
The Abbot Point Port and Wetlands Strategy will enable the beneficial reuse of dredged material on land rather than disposing of it at sea in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Project works are subject to a full environmental assessment under the Commonwealth Government'sEnvironment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. More than 15 Queensland Government approvals are also required.
The strategy includes two separate projects: the design and construction of onshore placement ponds to safely treat and hold dredged material for future re-use and a rail embankment, and a reduced dredging program needed to enable vessels to arrive, load and depart the Port of Abbot Point safely.
Both of these projects have been referred to the Australian Department of Environment for assessment. You can view the referrals online:
Environmental Impact Assessment
The Commonwealth Government has been provided with detailed scientific and engineering analysis of both the offshore and onshore proposals which will now be assessed. This documentation is based on previous studies as well as new sampling, investigation and analysis undertaken specifically for these referrals.
The environmental impact assessment documentation is available online. Public consultation on these documents has now closed. Submissions received during the public consultation period were reviewed and responses have been incorporated into the supplementary documentation. This has also been provided to the Commonwealth Government for consideration.
The Abbot Point Port and Wetlands Strategy includes a commitment to work with locals and experts to preserve and enhance the Caley Valley Wetlands, just inland from the coastal port infrastructure. Location of the onshore placement ponds will impact a small area of wetlands - between 2 and 3 per cent of the total area. In return, a program of rehabilitation and conservation is proposed.
The Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, working closely with the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, has established a Community Reference Group to help guide future plans for the wetlands.
The Abbot Point Port and Wetlands strategy will:
• expand the capacity of the Port of Abbot Point
•enhance degraded wetland areas and provide protection for future generations
• pave the way for growing Queensland's economy and opening up the resource-rich Galilee Basin
• lead to more jobs for Queenslanders, while royalties and supply chain opportunities will flow into the regions
• contribute to a portfolio of State and Commonwealth Government work to protect our Great Barrier Reef.
Timing and delivery
Extensive environmental and geotechnical investigations have been undertaken. The results of this work, along with information from years of previous investigations, have now been provided to the Commonwealth Government for assessment. These documents are available to view online.
Information is also being prepared for a range of Queensland Government departments and agencies that have an interest in the environment and port operations.
Pending approvals, construction of the dredged material ponds is due to start in early 2015.
Follow the project's progress:
• Community Reference Group
• Contracts and tenders
Last updated on 13 January 2015
Caley Valley Wetlands by Qld DSDIP
Published on Jan 8, 2015
The Abbot Point Port and Wetlands Project is committed to protecting these wetlands for the future. See how athttp://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/wetlands
Coal miners and conservationists oppose special treatment for dumping in Abbot Point wetlands
Jan 13, 2015 - Media Release - Fight for the Reef
The Australian Marine Conservation Society renewed its call to the Newman Government to abandon plans for taxpayer funding to support dredge dumping and rail lines at Abbot Point, echoing similar calls reported today from Gina Reinhart.
Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director said Queenslanders don’t want to see their taxes going to fund massive coal projects that will damage the Reef.
“We don’t often agree with Gina Reinhart, who is focused on building port facilities and rail lines for her own coal mine, but when it comes to special treatment and fast tracking of a mega port using tax payers money, it seems we all agree it’s a bad idea.
“The Queensland government has been rushing through the port expansion at Abbot Point, providing final plans to the Federal Environment Minister on Christmas Eve.
“They have proposed a massive 3 million tonnes of dredge spoil be dumped in a wetland that flows into the Reef’s waters without a full Environmental Impact Statement.
“It will damage a sensitive wetland and have impacts on the Reef World Heritage Area. And they want to use tax payers funds to help make it happen.
“We agree with Ms Reinhart that this development won’t provide the benefits the government claims it will.
“Claims of thousands of jobs and a boon to the Queensland economy are highly questionable when the industry is shedding jobs from existing mines and big US and European banks have rejected investing in this port expansion.
“What about the thousands of Reef tourism industry jobs that could be put at risk from dredging, dumping and increased shipping if the Abbot Point expansion goes ahead?
“It’s time the Newman Government acknowledged that the Reef doesn’t need more port expansion – its needs protecting. The government should abandon unnecessary and damaging port expansions up and down the Reef coast” said Ms Wishart.
Deputy Premier threatens to dump dredge spoil back in the Reef’s waters
Jan 14, 2015 - Media Release - Australian Marine Conservation Society
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has threatened to dump dredge spoil from the controversial Abbot Point port expansion back in the Great Barrier Reef’s waters if the Federal Environment Minister rejects plans to dump it on sensitive wetlands.
Felicity Wishart AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director said the comments, published in the Courier Mail today, showed that the Queensland government was not concerned about the impact on the Great Barrier Reef of massive port expansion along the Reef’s coastline.
“We are deeply troubled that Mr Seeney appears to have such a callous disregard for the concerns of thousands of people including tourism operators, fishers and scientists about dumping dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters.
“The Deputy Premier has not learned his lesson. Australians were outraged by the government’s plans to dump dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“In fact when legal action against the sea dumping and dredging saw Mr Seeney change plans to propose dumping the dredge sludge in the nearby Caley Valley Wetlands, he stated that ‘dumping at sea is environmentally the worst option’.
“The state government has been fast tracking port expansion for the mining industry and putting the Reef at risk.
“Now, if the Federal government rejects the proposal to dump dredge spoil in the Reef’s precious wetlands, Mr Seeney says the government will just go back to dumping in the Reef’s waters.
Bathing Birds - Summer 2015
Have you heard? We’re now looking for more citizen scientists to take part in our Summer Bathing Birds survey, starting Friday the 23rd of January!
If you have not registered to take part in Bathing Birds, now is your chance - go to www.bathingbirds.org.au to sign up and for more information.
SAVING OUR THREATENED SPECIES IN NSW
Rob Stokes MP, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for the Central Coast, Assistant Minister for Planning
MEDIA RELEASE - Sunday 11 January 2015
Environment Minister Rob Stokes today announced a series of new projects to protect NSW’s most threatened species.
Mr Stokes said the $4.8 million Saving our Species program has been established to secure the future of NSW’s 970 threatened species.
“These plants and animals face the real risk of disappearing from the wild forever. This is not something the NSW Government or the community are prepared to accept,” Mr Stokes said.
“We are taking action to safeguard the viability of these animals so future generations will be able to see them in the wild, and not just in the confinement of a zoo.
“A total of 28 new draft conservation projects have been developed for the program. The projects include protection of the green and golden bell frog, which will involve habitat conservation, monitoring and community engagement activities at sites across NSW.”
The Saving our Species program aims to protect threatened species by:
• Prioritising projects based on their benefit to the species, feasibility and cost to help make the most effective investments in threatened species conservation;
• Monitoring and managing the effectiveness of projects so they can be refined;
• Encouraging community, corporate and government participation in threatened species conservation by providing a website and a database with information on project sites and research opportunities;
• Allocating all threatened species to one of six management streams that provide the best outcomes for each species; and
• Providing targeted conservation projects that set out the actions required to save 370 specific plants and animals on locally or regionally managed sites
These conservation projects will be added to the 368 projects for other threatened species which are currently guiding conservation action across NSW.
The draft projects can be reviewed and comments provided online at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/PASAmendmentSpecies.htm
and comments are being sought until 13 February 2015.
Year in review - NSW skies clearer in 2014
Media release: 13 January 2015
Air quality across much of New South Wales was better in 2014 than in 2013 the annual snap shot of the state’s air quality shows.
Office of Environment and Heritage, Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science, Mr Matt Riley said the 2014 Annual Air Quality Statement released today was a look at air quality across the Government’s network of 43 air quality monitoring stations over the last 12 months.
“Analysis across the state in 2014, shows that air quality in NSW was better than the very smoky, dusty year we had in 2013,” Mr Riley said.
“We still had some days with poor air quality, but overall the skies were clearer. This is largely due to a decrease in the number and extent of bushfires, despite record temperatures and below average rainfall.”
Data analysed for the Air Quality Statement shows:
The Air Quality Index was in the Very Good, Good or Fair Category for at least 93 per cent of the time in the Sydney, Lower Hunter and South West Slopes regions and close to 100 per cent of the time in all other regions.
Across Sydney air quality was classified as Very Good or Good on 233 days (64% of the time) and Fair on 89 days (24% of the time).
Across Sydney Air quality was Poor or worse on 43 days (12% of the time), with the majority of days in the hazardous category associated with smoke from bushfires and hazard reduction burns.
Sydney recorded Ozone levels above the national standards on five days – the highest readings were in Western Sydney during very hot conditions on 31 January and 23 November, when temperatures soared to 45.3 degrees in Richmond.
The year’s highest daily particle pollution average (PM10) for the state was recorded in Albury on 13 February during the Victorian bushfires – more than three times higher than the national standard.
Wagga Wagga recorded the most days (13) above the national standard for PM10.
The full 2014 summary report is available at:www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/150004nswairqual14.htm
NSW Air Quality data is obtained from 43 monitoring stations across NSW. All stations measure PM10 and many also record finer PM2.5 particles. Stations in Sydney, the Illawarra and Lower Hunter also monitor Visibility and Ozone – which can reach high levels in the Sydney Basin in particular during hot days in summer,
That information is compiled into the easy to read NSW Air Quality Index on the OEH Home Page. Alerts are triggered when Ozone, Particle or Visibility readings reach Poor.
The community can also sign up to receive Air Pollution Alerts and next day forecasts via SMS or email, by clicking onwww.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/subscribe.htm.
Coastal Environment Centre
The Coastal Environment Centre (CEC) is a multi-award winning regional community environmental learning centre, and Pittwater Council's environmental flagship. CEC is celebrating its 20th year this December
More at: www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cec
Monthly Cooee Newsletter below. If you would like to receive Council's environmental newsletter via email, please email@example.com
January/Februay 2015 Cooee Newsletterincludes information on: BushCare Planting Activities (volunteers needed), Workshops and Events, and great articles HERE
Jibbon by NSW National Parks - Published on 4 Jan 2015
A new elevated walkway over the Jibbon Point Aboriginal engravings was opened in December 2014. It gives visitors a new view and protects of this culturally important site. NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and Phillips Marler.
Environment Events, Workshops and Bushcare in Pittwater - Jan/Feb 2015
Mona Vale Dunes Bushcare Group
Recent weed control funding has enabled a large area to be replanted with local native species on the Mona Vale dunes behind the Mona Vale Golf Course. This work may have encouraged a recent visit from a family of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. The Bushcare group was given a lovely insight into the birds’ family life, where the mother listened for sounds of caterpillars in dead wattle branches while a juvenile begs nearby. Meanwhile the father sat up on a higher branch keeping watch.
If you’d love the opportunity to see these beautiful birds up close and personal or just want to give some of your time to help keep Pittwater beautiful, then please contact Council’s Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367.
The Mona Vale Dunes Bushcare Group meets regularly on the 3rd Thursday and 2nd Saturday of each month from 8:30 – 11:30am at the end of Golf Avenue. New volunteers are always welcome!
Summerama in January 2015!
Summerama is a coastal activities program run by the Sydney Coastal Councils Group’s Member Councils throughout January in Sydney from Pittwater to Sutherland. It will get you out and about, discovering all the glorious treasures that lie just under the surface of Sydney’s beautiful blue shallows (and just above).
Pittwater Council’s Summerama events include:
Rock Platform Tour
Come and join us on a low-tide rock platform tour. Once the ocean retreats an amazing world becomes uncovered for us to enjoy. Summer is a great time to investigate the diversity of life that lives between the land and the sea and how these creatures survive in such a unique and challenging environment.
The tour is a great opportunity to learn about the abundant life that exists in these special places. Guided by local experts it’s a great way to learn about a world rarely seen. An amazing adventure for all the family!
When: Saturday 17 January, 11am – 1pm
Where: Meeting point provided on booking.
What to bring: Sturdy covered shoes that can get wet, hat, sunscreen, water, camera (optional).
Come on a guided bushwalk discovering cultural sites including rock engravings in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. This tour led by staff from the Coastal Environment Centre and an Indigenous guide offers a great opportunity to learn more about this amazing area. Learn about local flora and their uses as bushtucker and medicines. Look for native animals and their tracks as we explore. This event is suitable for the whole family!
When: Sunday 18 January, 9.30am-12pm
Where: Meeting point provided on booking
Bookings Essential! Online -www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cecbookings In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)
When: Saturday 31 January, 1 - 4pm
Saturday 28 February, 1 – 4pm
Saturday 28 March, 1 – 4pm
Are you new to Bushcare in Pittwater or thinking about Headland Ecosystems getting involved? Or are you simply looking for some skills and techniques for identifying and removing weeds from your backyard? If you answered ‘Yes’ then this is an essential workshop to learn the tips, tricks and identification skills to conduct bushregeneration work in our local reserves or your native garden.
The workshop will be split into two components - a theory session and a field trip to nearby bushland. In the theory session participants will be guided through a provided booklet in order to learn some of the most common weeds and native plants, including those extra tricky ‘look-a-like plants’. Some live samples of plants will help aid the learning process.
Correct removal techniques for specific weeds will also be shown, along with some of the core principles of bush regeneration and conducting safe work practices in the bush.
The field trip will put this newly found knowledge into practice, identifying natives and weeds in a bushland setting, and discussing strategies for managing weed infested areas.
Where: North Narrabeen – location provided upon booking.
This is a free workshop for Pittwater residents only - Online -www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cecbookings, In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen or Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)
Are you interested in growing your own vegetables?
If so, Pittwater Council will be holding a meeting to discuss our new community garden program. At the meeting you will meet other people interested in forming a ommunity garden group; discuss suitable sites and how the garden will operate.
You can find out more from the Pittwater Community Garden Guidelines which are available from the event information atwww.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/all_events in the Environment and Sustainable Living section.
Where: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road North Narrabeen (located about 50 metres along the foreshore path in front of Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park).
When: Tuesday 10 February, 6 – 7pm
Please register your interest in forming a community gardening group now and we will keep you up-to-date with our progress and send you a reminder for the meeting.
Contact: Jenny Cronan on 9970 1357 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 15 February, 7 – 9am
Come for a morning with the birds. We will take you for a fantastic guided walk to learn more about our feathered friends.
Our birding mornings are guided by local experts and are a great opportunity to get a better look at our local bird life. A great activity for those people interested to learn more as well as passionate birdwatchers. It’s a great morning out for everyone!
Where: Meeting point provided on booking.
Bookings Essential!: Online -www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cecbookings, In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen or Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)
Sunday 22 February, 9am – 12pm
Come and join us for a walk through one of Pittwater’s spectacular reserves. This walk takes you through Pittwater’s largest continuous piece of bushland which contains many beautiful plant communities and threatened fauna. After the summer rains it is an outstanding time to experience our bushland come alive with wildlife and flowering plants.
The walk is 1.5km one-way and is a little steep in parts so although we will be taking it at a gentle pace a reasonable level of fitness is required. Bring a pair a walking shoes, snacks, water and sense of adventure!
Where: Meeting point provided on booking.
Bookings Essential!:Online -www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cecbookings,In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeenor Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)
World Wetlands Day in Pittwater 2015
World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.
Why should we care about our wetlands?
Wetlands purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions. Wetlands act as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, and protect our coastlines. They burst with biodiversity, and are a vital means of storing carbon. Unfortunately, these benefits are not widely known. Often viewed as wasteland, 64% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900.
Help turn the tide on the loss and degradation of our wetlands. Join Pittwater Council to help celebrate World Wetlands Day by coming along to the following events:
Wetland Nightlife Walk
Our local wetlands are a unique environment supporting a great diversity of native animals. They are a wonder by night with many of our nocturnal creatures coming out to play. It’s a great night out for the whole family! The walk is suitable for children aged 5 and above.
When: Friday 6 February, 7:30 – 9:30pm
Where: Meeting point provided on booking.
Streamwatch Water Bug Watch and Wetlands Walk
Come and join us for the Streamwatch Water Bug Watch to learn more about the amazing creatures that live in our creek lines and waterways and take a tour of the wetlands. Water bugs are a great indicator of the health of our creeks and streams. Become part of Pittwater Council and Australian Museum’s volunteer Streamwatch water monitoring groups and help us to keep our creeks and rivers healthy.
When: Saturday 7 February, 10:30am - 1:30pm
Where: Meeting point provided on booking.:Online -www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cecbookings, In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeenor Phone: 1300 000 232 (Reception - Option 1)
Restoring Pittwater’s Coastal Headland Ecosystems
Pittwater Council has been successful in receiving grant funding of $100,000 over a staged two year period from the NSW Environmental Trust to undertake restoration works on five coastal headland and ecosystems in the southern section of Pittwater LGA. These include North Narrabeen Headland, Turimetta Headland, Warriewood Headland and Escarpment including restoration of Littoral (or Coastal) Rainforest on the northern end of Warriewood Beach and the Littoral Rainforest at Mona Vale Headland.
The project commenced early November 2014 and will be completed by 1 September 2016.
Coastal headlands are important areas of natural habitat along our coastal fringe. The threat of degradation to the area’s natural values through continued weed invasion and coastal erosion create a detrimental impact on these communities.
The project aims to protect and increase the native habitat (including the Littoral Rainforest Endangered Ecological Community and Themeda Grassland on Coastal Headlands Endangered Ecological Community) through weed control and bush regeneration to help natural regeneration. The highly degraded areas will be treated by removal of invasive weeds, replacing them with local native tubestock, in an effort to restore the natural ecosystems that used to be on site. Rabbit control, flora and fauna monitoring and recording and habitat assessment will all be a part of this strategy.
Several new Bushcaregroups are proposed for the New Year in 2015, namely Mona Vale Headland and Warriewood Beach North. Council will be looking for local community volunteers to help support the works onsite. This should be a very satisfying project for all involved. If you’re interested in helping this project please call the Bushland Management Officers on 9970 1363 or 9970 1390 for further information.
Ngoonungi – Sacred Flying Foxes
by gytonoplesium's channel
Streamlined approach to managing flying-foxes
Problematic flying-fox camps will be easier to manage with the release of draft camp management guidelines for the Grey-headed and Spectacled flying-fox.
These guidelines provide methods the community can use to disperse flying-fox colonies, where there are concerns for public health, in a way that does not impact upon the species.
Flying-foxes play an important ecological role as pollinators and dispersers of native plant seeds, but when they gather in large groups they can cause noise, smell and health concerns for nearby residents.
These guidelines describe options for low-cost and low-risk methods to disperse flying-fox populations, such as tree-trimming or boundary clearing. Communities will be able to undertake these activities without requiring approval from the Australian Government.
Importantly, the guidelines do not allow for lethal actions such as culling.
The Grey-headed flying-fox can be found widely across Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria and South Australia in search of food. The Spectacled flying-fox ranges across Far North Queensland. This means that national coordination is very important for managing the camps of these highly mobile species.
The policy has been developed through consultation with flying-fox experts and state and territory government agencies. It also draws on an improved understanding of flying-fox numbers and movements gained through the National Flying-fox Monitoring Programme.
The draft guidelines are open for public comment until 30 January 2015 and are availablewww.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/flying-fox-policy-statement
Climate, friends influence young corals choice of real estate
January 14, 2015 - Researchers in Queensland have found that where baby corals choose to settle is influenced by ocean temperature and the presence of their symbiotic algae in the water. Warmer than normal maximum temperatures are known to have a negative impact on the reproduction and survival of some corals. The researchers wanted to find out how a cooler climate, similar to that found south of the Great Barrier Reef, would affect coral larvae settlement.
"We were interested to see how temperature influenced the selection of where corals chose to settle," says Dr Eugenia Sampayo from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at the University of Queensland.
"At colder than average ambient temperatures we found that the larvae settled on more exposed surfaces where they were more likely to be damaged or removed entirely by fish."
Coral larvae actively search out a place to settle using a range of sensory cues. Once in place they can't move, so a poor choice of location increases the risk of death.
As part of the experiment researchers exposed larvae from coral commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef, Acropora millepora, to several different temperatures; including normal temperatures for the Great Barrier Reef and cooler temperatures similar to those experienced south of the Great Barrier Reef.
Under normal conditions, the larvae prefer to settle on surfaces covered in crustose coralline algae, but the researchers found larvae in the cooler water were less likely to choose such a surface, reducing their chance of a successful settlement.
The researchers also examined the influence of dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium), microscopic single celled organisms that live inside coral tissue once it has settled. This so-called symbiotic relationship is essential to the survival of corals in tropical oceans.
"Perhaps the most surprising result is that the presence of these symbionts in the water also influenced whether the coral larvae settled on the algae encrusted surfaces or not," says study lead author, Natalia Winkler from the Coral CoE.
"The fact that the symbionts can influence larval settlement without actually being inside the coral tissue highlights just how important the symbionts are for corals," Ms Winkler says
Dr Sampayo adds the results suggest a link between crustose coralline algae and the symbionts.
"If symbionts cluster near favorable locations, the coral larvae kill two birds with one stone by finding a good spot to settle and a concentrated source of symbionts, which are normally sparse in the water," Dr Sampayo says.
"We have discovered a previously unknown biological control over coral settlement, one that is likely to be influenced by warming oceans and that can change how corals select their life-long position on the reef."
1. N. S. Winkler, J. M. Pandolfi, E. M. Sampayo. Symbiodinium identity alters the temperature-dependent settlement behaviour of Acropora millepora coral larvae before the onset of symbiosis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2015; 282 (1801): 20142260 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2260
Photo: Coral spawning. Credit: Natalia Winkler
New rainfall monitoring system at Fowlers Gap records extreme downpour
14 January 2015
The NSW desert has been hit by record-breaking extreme rainfall, with the biggest downpour in 45 years recorded over a two-day period at UNSW’s Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station near Broken Hill.
A rain gauge on the remote research station recorded 61.4 mm of rain on Friday 9 January 2015 – the 12th highest on record. This was followed by another 117.4 mm the next day – the highest on record, breaking the previous daily rainfall record of 116.1 mm in 1971.
The total of 178.8 mm of rain during a 48-hour period has not occurred before during the 45 year years of rainfall measurements at Fowlers Gap.
The latest measurements were collected with new equipment installed as part of a $15 million UNSW-led project to monitor groundwater across the continent, funded by the federal government’sNational Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.
“What made this January event extreme was that a high rainfall event was followed the next day by the highest rainfall recorded. This combination was quite amazing and just what we wanted to test our recently installed research facilities,” says Professor Ian Acworth, of the UNSW Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre.
“The water rose quickly, with a two-metre high flood wave moving down Fowlers Gap Creek. The creek rose to just short of four metres during the second day. The main reservoir on the property, Freislicht Dam, which was almost completely dry, filled to capacity during the two days, rising by about five metres.”
The floods have also ripped up roads and cut access to the property. But the much-needed rain is expected to transform the often-dust blown landscape, leading to a burst of life, with more vegetation, kangaroos, wallabies, emus and other bird life.
Rainfall has been routinely measured at Fowlers Gap station since the early 1970s.
“This long record is an incredible hydrological resource of international significance, which provides a unique opportunity to study the impacts of climate change in semi-arid Australia,” says Professor Acworth.
Previously, a 125-kilometre long trip on a farm bike had to be undertaken to collect the data every time it rained. However, UNSW recently replaced the manual gauges on the property with a network of 18 automatic gauges which are monitored remotely via the internet, as part of the national groundwater monitoring project.
Video cameras and flow gauges have been installed on two creeks to monitor flood events and a dozen bore holes have been drilled. The UNSW team are waiting to see how much groundwater recharge has occurred from this major event.
“Groundwater keeps people alive across the whole of the dry inland of Australia, and it is vital to understand how rainfall replenishes the underground aquifers,” says Professor Acworth.
“Our results at Fowlers Gap also show that the pattern of rainfall can vary greatly, with only 60-70 mm falling during the two days on the plain just 10 kilometres away from the homestead.”
The 400 square kilometre station is one of six groundwater-monitoring sites across Australia selected for the national project.
Fowlers Gap is the only research station in the arid zone of NSW and other long-term research projects, including unique studies of kangaroos and birds, have been carried out there.
Studios are also available on the property for artists attracted by the dramatic arid landscape.
Fowlers Gap Creek in flood at 9am Saturday 10 January
Fowlers Gap Creek empty at 9am Friday 9 January
New Newspapers added to Trove
The National Library of Australia is pleased to announce that the newspapers listed below, have been recently added to Trove and further issues will become available shortly. Through Trove, there is now free online access to over 15 million pages from over 700 Australian newspapers. To find out the latest titles which have been added to Trove, subscribe to one of our Webfeeds at the link below.
For those libraries and organisations wishing to digitise a newspaper title, please see the Contributor Guidelines link below. If you would like any additional information please email: email@example.com or visit: NLA - http://www.nla.gov.au/
Australian Newspaper Plan - http://www.nla.gov.au/australian-newspaper-plan
Trove Newspapers - http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Newly added newspapers on Trove:
NEW SOUTH WALES
- Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (Sydney, NSW 1891-1954) - Sydney Mail (NSW 1912-1938)- Le Courrier Australien (Sydney 1892-1954)- The Ulladulla and Milton Times (NSW 1891-1917)- Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser (NSW 1871-1912)- Man on the Land (Gosford, NSW 1936-1938)- The Gosford Times and Wyong District Advocate (NSW 1906-1954)- The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW 1844 - 1860)- Sydney Mail (NSW 1860-1871)- Sydney General Trade List, Mercantile Chronicle and Advertiser (NSW 1830)- St George Call (Kogarah, NSW 1914-1924)- Temora Star (NSW 1881-1883)- The Hillston News (NSW 1882-1883)- Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW 1900-1954) - Guang yi hua bao - The Chinese Australian Herald (Sydney, NSW 1894-1923)
- Dayboro Times and Moreton Mail (Qld 1937-1940; 1945-1954) - Humpybong Weekly and Advertiser (Redcliffe, Qld 1927-1932)- Logan and Albert Advocate (Qld 1893-1900)- Logan Witness (Beenleigh, Qld 1878-1893)- Logan and Albert Bulletin (Southport, Qld 1896-1901; 1909; 1921; 1922; 1928)
- Adelaide Observer (SA 1843-1904)- The Victor Harbor Times and Encounter Bay and Lower Murray Pilot (SA 1912-1930) - Times Victor Harbour and Encounter Bay and Lower Murray Pilot (SA 1930-1932)- Victor Harbour Times (SA 1932-1954)- Observer (Adelaide, SA 1905-1931)- Leader (Angaston, SA 1918-1954)- Quiz (Adelaide, SA 1889-1890)- Quiz (Adelaide, SA 1900-1909)- Quiz and the Lantern (Adelaide, SA 1890-1900)- Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA 1889-1954)
- Guardian, or, True Friend of Tasmania (Hobart, Tas. 1847) Circular Head Chronicle (Stanley, Tas. 1906-1954)- Tasmanian Morning Herald (Hobart, Tas. 1865-1866)- Tasmanian Morning Herald (Hobart, Tas. 1865-1866)- Critic (Hobart, Tas. 1907-1924)- Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. 1883-1911)- Daily Post (Hobart, Tas. 1908-1918)- Hobarton Guardian, or, True Friend of Tasmania (Hobart, Tas. 1847-1854)- Van Diemen's Land Chronicle (Hobart, Tas. 1841)
- Ouyen and North West Express (VIC 1918) - Birregurra Times (VIC 1918)- Seaside News (Melbourne, VIC 1915-1918)- Sporting Judge (Melbourne, VIC 1914-1918)- Norden (Melbourne, VIC 1914-1918)- Port Fairy Times and McArthur News (VIC 1917-1918) - Chronicle, South Yarra Gazette, Toorak Times and Malvern Standard (VIC 1892-1893)- Brighton Southern Cross (VIC 1896-1918)- Gippsland Chronicle and Crooked River and Stringer's Creek - Advertiser (VIC 1866)- The Chinese Advertiser (Ballarat, VIC 1856)- The English and Chinese Advertiser (VIC 1856-1858)
- Gnowangerup Star and Tambellup-Ongerup Gazette (WA 1915-1942)- Southern Times (Bunbury, WA 1888-1916)- The Norseman Pioneer (WA 1896-1897)- Camp Chronicle (Midland Junction, WA 1915-1918)- Norseman Esperance Guardian and Dundas Goldfields Advertiser (WA 1896)
Tailgate Bench - for Car Philosophers
How Gillard's experience inspires or discourages women
13 January 2015
Does being reminded of the sexism that Julia Gillard faced as Australia's first female prime minister challenge women to enter politics or discourage them?
"We found a polarising effect with women responding in different ways depending on their attitudes to gender roles," said Dr Christopher Hunt, lead author of the research from the University of Sydney's School of Psychology.
Hunt, together with the School's Dr Karen Gonsalkorale and Dr Lisa Zadro published their findings in the European Journal of Social Psychology, last month.
"For women who hold traditional gender values - those who think that women should be modest, place their families before themselves and put a lot of importance in taking care of their home and their physical appearance - being reminded of Julia Gillard's experiences made them want to avoid politics," Dr Hunt said.
"However for women who rate themselves as non-conformists in regards to gender values, being reminded of Gillard's difficulties motivated them to go into politics - she appears to be a role model for this group."
These effects were not related to any changes in women's belief in their ability to lead.
"So the changes seem to be driven by thinking about how others will react to them - about the possibility of a backlash," Dr Hunt said.
"International research shows that women in countries with more women politicians display greater interest in politics than women from countries with lower female representation. Our research suggests such role model influence changes according to women's other beliefs and values."
The study assessed 167 Australian undergraduate students on a measure of conformity to gender norms. They then either read statements about generic difficulties experienced by leaders or the gender-based difficulties experienced by Gillard before completing a questionnaire on their attitudes to leadership and certain occupations.
For male participants, those with high conformity to masculine norms showed a greater belief in their own leadership capabilities after reading about Gillard's gender-based difficulties than when reading about generic difficulties, while low conforming men showed the opposite pattern.
"This suggests that Gillard's example provoked a defensive reporting of leadership capability - consistent with research showing that women who succeed in traditionally male domains are often perceived to be threatening," said Dr Hunt.
The next step in continuing this work is to see if these findings were specific to politics or whether the same findings would apply in other professions.
"It would be interesting to apply this research to the business community where research has suggested gender roles are even more strictly enforced than in politics."
Summer no sweat for Aussies but winter freeze fatal
January 12, 2015 - Australians are more likely to die during unseasonably cold winters than hotter than average summers, QUT research has found. The researchers analyzed temperature, humidity and mortality data from 1988 to 2009 for Adelaide Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to come up with their findings. Across the country severe winters that are colder and drier than normal are a far bigger risk to health than sweltering summers that are hotter than average.
QUT Associate Professor Adrian Barnett, a statistician with the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the lead researcher of the study, said death rates in Australian cities were up to 30 per cent higher in winter than summer.
The researchers analyzed temperature, humidity and mortality data from 1988 to 2009 for Adelaide Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Professor Barnett said the finding that hotter or more humid summers had no effect on mortality was "surprising."
"We know that heatwaves kill people in the short-term, but our study did not find any link between hotter summers and higher deaths," he said.
"The increase in deaths during colder winter could be because Australians are well-prepared for whatever summer throws at them, but are less able to cope with cold weather. There isn't the same focus on preparing for cold weather as there is for hot weather, for example through public health campaigns or even wearing the right sort of clothes.
"The strongest increase in deaths during a colder winter was in Brisbane, the city with the warmest climate, with an extra 59 deaths a month on average for a one degree decrease in mean winter temperature."
"Brisbane has the mildest winter of the five cities but has the greatest vulnerability. We believe this is because most homes are designed to lose heat in summer, which also allows cold outdoor air to get inside during winter."
Professor Barnett said the findings of the study, published in the journal Environmental Research, could trigger more prevention programs to help reduce the future burden on the health system.
"Excess winter deaths have a significant impact on health systems across Australia," he said.
"There are extra demands on doctors, hospitals and emergency departments in winter months, especially for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases which are triggered by exposure to cold weather.
"Our findings show the winter increases in mortality are predictable so ramping up public health measures, such as influenza vaccinations and insulating homes, particularly for vulnerable groups, should be considered to try to reduce the impact of severe winters."
1. Cunrui Huang, Cordia Chu, Xiaoming Wang, Adrian G. Barnett.Unusually cold and dry winters increase mortality in Australia.Environmental Research, 2015; 136: 1 DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2014.08.046
Shorter combination treatment as effective as monotherapy for TB prevention in kids
January 12, 2015 - To prevent tuberculosis (TB) in children with latent tuberculosis infection (which is not active but can become active), combination treatment with the medications rifapentine and isoniazid was as effective as longer treatment with only isoniazid, according to a study published online by JAMA Pediatrics.
Children account for a substantial portion of the global burden of active and latent tuberculosis. Treating latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in children is beneficial because it can prevent TB from developing and limits transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, according to background information in the study.
M. Elsa Villarino, M.D., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, and coauthors compared the safety and effectiveness of combination therapy with rifapentine and isoniazid to treatment only with isoniazid. The randomized clinical trial compared 12, once-weekly doses of the combination drugs given with supervision by a healthcare professional with nine months of daily isoniazid treatment without supervision by a health care professional in children (ages 2 to 17 years) with latent tuberculosis infection from 29 study sites in the United States, Canada, Brazil, China and Spain. Of the 1,058 children enrolled, 905 were eligible for the evaluation of treatment effectiveness (471 in the combination-therapy group and 434 in the isoniazid-only group.
The cumulative proportion of children in whom TB was diagnosed was zero of 471 in the combination-therapy group vs. 3 of 434 in the isoniazid-only group, according to the study results. Neither group had any treatment-attributed hepatotoxicity (liver damage), serious adverse events or deaths.
"We found that combination therapy with rifapentine and isoniazid was well tolerated and safe in children aged 2 to 17 years who were treated for LTBI," the study concludes.
Editorial: 12-Dose Drug Regimen Also Option for TB Prevention in Kids
In a related editorial, Ben J. Marais, Ph.D., of the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia, writes: "Confirmation that isoniazid and rifapentine combination therapy is safe and of equivalent efficacy to isoniazid monotherapy in children aged 2 to 17 years is an important and long-awaited finding."
"Given the strength of the evidence and the urgent need to implement effective tuberculosis prevention strategies in high-burden settings as well as the move toward tuberculosis elimination in nonendemic areas, it is hoped that isoniazid and rifapentine combination therapy soon becomes the standard of care for HIV-uninfected individuals in most settings. Unfortunately, rifapentine is not widely available outside the United States," the author concludes.
1. M. Elsa Villarino, Nigel A. Scott, Stephen E. Weis, Marc Weiner, Marcus B. Conde, Brenda Jones, Sharon Nachman, Ricardo Oliveira, Ruth N. Moro, Nong Shang, Stefan V. Goldberg, Timothy R. Sterling. Treatment for Preventing Tuberculosis in Children and Adolescents. JAMA Pediatrics, 2015; DOI:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.3158
2. Ben J. Marais. Twelve-Dose Drug Regimen Now Also an Option for Preventing Tuberculosis in Children and Adolescents. JAMA Pediatrics, 2015; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.3157
New restoration focus for western dry forests
January 14, 2015 - Dry forests are low-elevation western forests with tall pines. The study used government records of insect and wildfire damage to compare current threats to dry forests and used records from land surveys conducted in the late 1800s to understand how dry forests persisted for thousands of years in spite of insect outbreaks, droughts, and fires. These forests persisted, this study suggests, by having both young and old trees that together provided bet-hedging.
Data on recent threats to dry forests used government maps of insect outbreaks and wildfires from 1999-2012 across 64 million acres of western dry forests or 80% of the total dry-forest area.
"When comparing the rates of insect outbreaks and wildfire over the past fourteen years, we were surprised to discover insect outbreaks impacted 5 to 7 times the area that wildfire did," said Dr. Mark Williams, a co-author of the study and recent PhD graduate of the University of Wyoming's Program in Ecology.
"In contrast, restoration efforts to increase resilience of dry forests to changing climate focus primarily on threats from wildfire. Our work suggests that impacts from insect pests should be considered with greater weight when formulating restoration prescriptions."
To understand how forests were resilient to multiple disturbances in the past, the researchers utilized historical data which included 45,171 tree sizes measured along 13,900 section-lines traversed by land surveyors in about 4.2 million acres of dry forests in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon in the late-1800s.
"The late-1800s land surveys provide us with a spatially extensive and detailed view of how these dry forests persisted through unpredictable episodes of insect outbreaks, droughts, and wildfires," said Dr. William Baker, a co-author of the study and Professor Emeritus in the Program in Ecology and Department of Geography at the University of Wyoming.
"What we see from the surveys is that dry forests historically had many large trees, that often survived wildfires, but even more small trees that were less prone to be killed during insect outbreaks and droughts. The combination of abundant youth and older trees provided bet-hedging insurance that allowed these forests to survive and recover regardless of whether an insect outbreak, drought, or wildfire occurred. These unpredictable events may increase with global warming."
The study's findings suggest current programs that remove most small trees to lower the intensity of wildfires in dry forests and restore large trees lost to logging, may reduce forest resilience to the larger threats from insect outbreaks and droughts.
"Using historical forests as a guide, our study suggests we may want to modify our restoration and management programs so they do not put all our eggs in one basket, but instead hedge our bets by keeping both large trees and abundant small ones," said Dr. Baker.
• Over the last fourteen years, insect outbreaks have impacted 5 to 7 times more dry forests than have wildfires.
• Historically, dry forests had large trees, but were numerically dominated by small trees, 52-92% of total trees.
• The variable structure of past forests provided bet-hedging insurance against multiple disturbances and continued persistence.
• Removing most small trees for modern restoration treatments may reduce the resilience of these forests.
• William L. Baker, Mark A. Williams. Bet-hedging dry-forest resilience to climate-change threats in the western USA based on historical forest structure. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2015; 2 DOI:10.3389/fevo.2014.00088
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.
Discharge letter for patients increases understanding of hospitalisation
14 January 2015
A simply-worded letter that is directed at the patient and given to them prior to discharge from hospital can immediately improve their knowledge and understanding of their in-hospital tests and post-discharge recommendations, University of Sydney research reveals.
Published in the Internal Medical Journal, the study found that while patients knew why they went into hospital, they had very little understanding of the tests performed while there, and recommendations for what to do when they go home.
"Patients can often be anxious, and this may interfere with their understanding and recall of what has happened in hospital and what the required follow-up is," said senior investigator of the studyProfessor Geoffrey Tofler, Preventative Cardiology at University of Sydney, and Cardiologist at Royal North Shore Hospital.
"Discharge summaries are typically written for the doctors not the patient, so often use complex medical terminology that the patient doesn't understand. The end result is that recommendations are often discarded," Professor Tofler said.
"This lack of understanding when patients make the transition from the hospital to the community can lead to health problems including an increased need for re-hospitalisation."
In the study, patients were given a brief one-page letter that was written in simple language that summarised their hospitalization - the letter was then discussed with the patient.
The PADDLE letter was divided into four sections:
- The reasons for hospitalisation (symptoms and diagnosis)
- Tests and results whilst in hospital
- Treatments received in hospital
- Recommendations once discharged from hospital
"Our results found that the letter was well received by the patients, with 93 per cent rating it very helpful or helpful," said Professor Tofler.
"Patients leaving hospital after receiving the discharge letter are much better informed about their medical condition and their role in the critical early period post-discharge."
Tony Spencer, a patient recipient of the PADDLE letter said that "I found Dr Tofler's patient letter extremely helpful when I left hospital after being treated for a heart condition.
"Being succinct and personally written it served as a quick checkpoint to assure me that I am following the right course of action.
"The letter covered my follow up appointments, medications, and reinforced the need for lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking. It also explained the heart scan I had while in hospital as I had been unable to get information on the outcome prior to that.
"Without doubt, the patient letter will result in more people following their prescribed recommendations," Mr Spencer said.
"The patient discharge letter only takes 5-10 minutes to write (completed by the patients' doctors) with the contents explained to the patient at their bedside," said Professor Tofler.
"This is a small change to practice that could make a large difference in patient's lives, and could prevent subsequent hospital readmissions and their associated costs.
"Interventions that improve understanding for the patient and their families are becoming increasingly important, and together with more rigorous discharge planning and post-discharge patient education, we can improve outcomes.
"The PADDLE letter deserves further evaluation and consideration for integrating into routine discharge practice," he said.
Study authors were: Raymond Lin, Robyn Gallagher, Monica Spinaze, Hadi Nojoumian, Christopher Dennis, Roderick Clifton-Bligh, and Geoffrey Tofler.
World's oldest butchering tools gave evolutionary edge to human communication: Oldowan technology behind genesis of language and teaching
January 13, 2015 - Two and a half million years ago, our hominin ancestors in the African savanna crafted rocks into shards that could slice apart a dead gazelle, zebra or other game animal. Over the next 700,000 years, this butchering technology spread throughout the continent and, it turns out, came to be a major evolutionary force, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Liverpool and the University of St. Andrews, both in the UK.
Combining the tools of psychology, evolutionary biology and archaeology, scientists have found compelling evidence for the co-evolution of early Stone Age slaughtering tools and our ability to communicate and teach, shedding new light on the power of human culture to shape evolution.
To be reported Jan. 13 in the journal Nature Communications, the study is the largest to date to look at gene-culture co-evolution in the context of prehistoric Oldowan tools, the oldest-known cutting devices. It suggests communication among our earliest ancestors may be more complex than previously thought, with teaching and perhaps even a primitive proto-language occurring some 1.8 million years ago.
"Our findings suggest that stone tools weren't just a product of human evolution, but actually drove it as well, creating the evolutionary advantage necessary for the development of modern human communication and teaching," said Thomas Morgan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at UC Berkeley.
"Our data show this process was ongoing two and a half million years ago, which allows us to consider a very drawn-out and gradual evolution of the modern human capacity for language and suggests simple 'proto-languages' might be older than we previously thought," Morgan added.
Morgan and University of Liverpool archaeologist Natalie Uomini arrived at their conclusions by conducting a series of experiments in teaching contemporary humans the art of "Oldowan stone-knapping," in which butchering "flakes" are created by hammering a hard rock against certain volcanic or glassy rocks, like basalt or flint.
Oldowan stone-knapping dates back to the Lower Paleolithic period in eastern Africa, and remained largely unchanged for 700,000 years until more sophisticated Acheulean hand-axes and cleavers, which marked the next generation of stone tool technology, came on the scene. It was practiced by some of our earliest ancestors, such as Homo habilis and the even older Australopithecus garhi, who walked on two legs, but whose facial features and brain size were closer to those of apes.
In testing five different ways to convey Oldowan stone-knapping skills to more than 180 college students, the researchers found that the demonstration that used spoken communication -- versus imitation, non-verbal presentations or gestures -- yielded the highest volume and quality of flakes in the least amount of time and with the least waste.
To measure the rate of transmission of the ancient butchery technology, and establish whether more complex communication such as language would get the best results, study volunteers were divided into five- or 10-member "learning chains." The head of the chain received a knapping demonstration, the raw materials and five minutes to try their hand at it. That person then showed it to the next person in the chain, who in turn showed the next person, and so on. Their competence picked up significantly with verbal instruction.
"If someone is trying to learn a skill that has lots of subtlety to it, it helps to engage with a teacher and have them correct you," Morgan said. "You learn so much faster when someone is telling you what to do."
As for what the results mean for the Oldowan hominins: "They were probably not talking," Morgan said. "These tools are the only tools they made for 700,000 years. So if people had language, they would have learned faster and developed newer technologies more rapidly."
Without language, one can assume that a hominin version of, say, Steve Jobs would have been hard-pressed to pass on visionary ideas. Still, the seeds of language, teaching and learning were planted due to the demand for Oldowan tools, the study suggests, and at some point hominins got better at communicating, hence the advent of Acheulean hand-axes and cleavers some 1.7 million years ago.
"To sustain Acheulean technology, there must have been some kind of teaching, and maybe even a kind of language, going on, even just a simple proto-language using sounds or gestures for 'yes' or 'no,' or 'here' or 'there,'" Morgan said.
Indeed, the data suggest that when the Oldowan stone-tool industry started, it was most likely not being taught, but communication methods to teach it were developed later.
"At some point they reached a threshold level of communication that allowed Acheulean hand axes to start being taught and spread around successfully and that almost certainly involved some sort of teaching and proto-type language," Morgan said.
1. T. J. H. Morgan, N. T. Uomini, L. E. Rendell, L. Chouinard-Thuly, S. E. Street, et al.Experimental evidence for the co-evolution of hominin tool-making teaching and language. Nature Communications, 2015 DOI:10.1038/ncomms7029
Stone-knapping demonstration.Published on 13 Jan 2015
Credit: Video by Yasmin Anwar, Roxanne Makasdjian and Phil Ebiner / UC Berkeley
Total Wellbeing Diet goes online
Published on 7 Jan 2015
We've updated Australia's most successful diet program and it's now online. For more information go to: www.totalwellbeingdiet.com
Social stock exchanges – do we need them?
12 January 2015
OPINION: Public interest in the development of global impact investing received a significant boost last year, due to an international campaign to divest in fossil fuels by superannuation, pension, and university endowment funds.
This emerging market (estimated to be worth $650 billion by 2020) aims to connect social enterprises with so-called “impact” investors. An important aspect has been the creation of social stock exchanges.
While securities exchanges have been facilitating financial market transactions for centuries, the first social stock exchanges were officially launched only recently. So what are they? Are they working? And do we need them?
We explore these questions as part of our ongoing research, interviews and analysis, and recent business media attentionon this market innovation.
What is a social stock exchange?
These sorts of exchanges operate just like investment and financial markets - to help to connect supply and demand. “Impact” investors need information on where to invest, consistent measures of return (in this case, additionally to the standard return on investment (ROI) there is another measure, the social return on investment (SROI)), opportunities to build portfolios, and options to exit. On the demand side, social enterprises need to raise capital and market their activities. Broadly, such an exchange enables private capital to be mobilised for public good.
Do they actually work?
Social stock exchanges which have recently emerged globally operate in different ways in their attempt to grow impact investing markets. Here are some examples:
• United Kingdom (Social Stock Exchange): the Social Stock Exchange was officially launched in London in 2013; it showcases publicly listed impact enterprises that trade on the London Stock Exchange. It is designed to connect the general public (not only accredited investors) with impact investments, and has a common social impact framework applied to all issuers. It is not yet a transactional platform, instead profiling impact investments. By 2014 it had 12 enterprises listed.
• Canada (Social Venture Connexion): Launched in 2013, the SVX is registered as a restricted dealer with the Ontario Securities Commission and aims to address social finance market failures by providing social ventures with a low cost method of gaining access to investors. SVX approves membership (for organisations on the supply and demand side) on several criteria, including assessing impact using B Corporation standards, a recognised social and environmental performance measure. It has already exceeded its initial objectives in terms of capital raised and enterprises listed.
• Singapore (Impact Investment Exchange): Also launched in 2013, the IIX trades out of Mauritius. It sets out to support listing, trading, clearing, and settlement of securities issued by social enterprises across Africa and Asia. It is the only public social stock exchange at this time, and in generating social enterprise issuers, it also runs programs to assist social enterprises to become “investor ready”.
As Forbes reports, other exchanges are emerging in Brazil, and also in Kenya.
Does Australia need a social stock exchange?
The World Economic Forum suggests that social stock exchanges have the potential to offer value to retail and institutional investors by providing access to liquid securities of impact enterprises.
As we have learnt from previous studies on the rapid diffusion of stock exchanges during the 1980s and 1990s, exchanges were adopted out of diverse motivations and showed great variation in subsequent performance. University of Alberta Professor Michael Lounsbury and his colleagues’ study demonstrated that policy makers need to selectively adopt policy innovations that suit local contexts.
What are the challenges?
In Australia, we have a nascent but growing market for impact investing, in particular when divestment activities in fossil fuels (and consequent investments in renewable energy) are included in this market growth. But reflective of global trends, we suffer from barriers such as lack of awareness and access to investment opportunities.
Indeed, it seems that in the Australian market we do not have an economic problem. We have supply of impact investment funds and demand from social enterprises, but we do not have the social and market infrastructure to connect the two more easily and efficiently.
There is no doubt that more capacity building is needed on the demand side, and education is needed on the supply side of the market. An exchange might also provide the opportunity to better mobilise private capital in addressing foreign aid objectives around poverty alleviation in our region, if impact investment deals are not restricted to Australia.
As our research progresses on this topic, we may find that rather than inventing a new version of a social stock exchange, we would do well to borrow infrastructure or connect to existing platforms, enabling synergies in operational models as the global market grows.
Increasing numbers of Australian companies taking on B Corporation certification also demonstrate progress in (voluntarily) adopting impact measurement tools and impact disclosure.
Yet we also need to recognise criticisms of such exchange platforms, as well as unintended consequences - for instance, limitations to calculating social returns on investments, “crowding-out” effects and mission drift in the not-for-profit and social enterprise sector (the social economy) .
We also need to ensure that mobilising private capital does not lead governments to shirk their responsibilities in dealing with those social and environmental problems that will not be addressed through market mechanisms.
The social stock exchanges established so far are building gradually. Yet incremental change can be transformative in providing one mechanism to mobilise more capital for organisations that seek to address many of the current social and environmental problems in our society.
Markus A. Höllerer is a Senior Scholar at the UNSW Business School. Danielle Logue is a Senior Lecturer in Strategy, Innovation & Organisation at UTS.
This opinion pience was first published in The Conversation.
2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards open
Australian authors, poets and historians are invited to enter the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards celebrate the contribution of Australian literature to our cultural and intellectual life.
These awards recognise the role Australian writers play in enlightening and entertaining us, reflecting on our history, and taking our stories to the world.
They acknowledge excellence in Australian fiction, poetry, non-fiction, young adult fiction and children’s fiction, and in Australian history.
A total prize pool of $600,000 is available to winners and shortlisted authors in these six categories.
The 2015 awards are now open for books first published in English and made available for general sale in Australia between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2014.
Entries close at 5.00pm (AEDT) on Saturday 28 February 2015.
Entry forms and eligibility guidelines are available on the Ministry for the Arts website.