In this issue

Issue 115

Stocking experiment tests the limits of the lake
Australia's lakes and river are often stocked with fish. But research at Lake Moogerah and Lake Maroon, Qld, has found that overstocking can trigger blooms of toxic blue-green algae. The research also questions the long-held scientific theory that large numbers of predatory fish can control blue-green algae through their effect on the food web.
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Selecting for non-shrink sheep
Research has revealed that wool shrinkage or felting is a heritable trait that could be manipulated through breeding.
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Native fauna outfoxed by wanton killer
Predators sometimes engage in 'surplus killing' at a rate far beyond the need for food or food storage. Research has found that surplus killing differs between predator-prey systems that have co-evolved over many millennia and the relatively young predator-prey interactions involving fox and dingo predators and native fauna in Australia.
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Concerns of over-regulation
Treasurer Peter Costello has announced an inquiry to investigate the effect of federal and state regulations relating to biodiversity.
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CRC launch promises $1 billion in benefits
Australia is embracing a billion-dollar opportunity to position the minerals processing industry for the 21st century with the launch of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing.
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Super science alliance
The Global Research Alliance has meet to discuss the world's water resources.
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Government and business talk climate change
Policies to address the challenges of climate change are being developed through the Government-Business Climate Change Dialogue.
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Planning for the post-petroleum era
The key to survival in the post-petroleum era may be smart urban planning - like 'pedestrianising' cities and area-wide traffic calming.
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Green muds to clean up the oceans
Researchers have developed a low-cost environmentally-friendly, water-based drilling mud to replace traditionally used oil-based and synthetic substances which can be ocean pollutants.
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Dust on the mangroves
CSIRO scientists have developed a way to monitor dust levels on mangroves around the iron ore handling facility at Port Hedland, WA, using the HyMap system.
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Engineering a sustainable future
Three young Australians are spearheading a project to provide Australia with its own blueprint for a sustainable economy. The project will produce a book - Achieving a Sustainable Future - which will present the business case for the adoption of sustainable practice and assist practitioners in actioning their sustainability plans.
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Flagships: the Admiral's view
Australia has a deep need for sustainable growth and wealth generation. To tackle these challenges, CSIRO has launched the National Research Flagships. The Flagship Research Programs are: Preventative Health, Wealth from the Oceans, Healthy Australia, Agrifood Top 5, Leading the Light Metals Age, and Energy Transformed.
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Agriculture: adapting to climate change
Major variation in climate patterns has the potential to seriously jeopardise Australia's agricultural productivity. But Australian farmers can lessen the impact of climate change by developing more resilient agricultural systems.
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Greg Bourne - the not so quiet achiever
Oil company BP raised a few eyebrows when it introduced its 'Beyond Petroleum' concept. Did this mean the company was planning to turn the petroleum tap off and concentrate instead on renewable energy sources? Phillip Toyne interviews Greg Bourne, Regional President BP Australasia on BP's plans.
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Building corporate sustainability
Achieving corporate sustainability is a challenge that will increasingly occupy the attention of senior executive teams, change agents and key stakeholders of 21st century organisations. The resolution to fundamental dilemmas involved will come through the actions of those corporations that see opportunities inherent in the emerging ethos of sustainability.
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Green machines
Australian cars will be 18 per cent more fuel efficient by 2010, under a new Voluntary Code of Practice adopted by the Australian automotive industry.
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A blueprint for change
Eleven Australian environmental scientists have formed the Wentworth Group. The group has proposed common sense reforms designed to deliver sustainable agricultural and land management solutions to Australia.
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Trading water
The report 'Robust Separation: a search for a genetic framework to simplify registration and trading of interests in natural resources' outlines a national approach to water rights in Australia. Under the proposed new system water shares and allocations could be traded, enabling more efficient water use overall.
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River rights
Reliable ways of testing decisions about environmental flows are needed to begin diverting water back from irrigation. As part of the 'Living Murray Initiative', a computer software tool is being used to assess the ecological impacts of a range of enviro
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Fishing for the best flows
In the absence of ecological data for a particular river system, interim environmental flows are required to guide environmental managers. Long-term studies are needed to ensure the flows meet the needs of critical ecological processes. Studies in Victoria's Campaspe and Broken rivers highlight the importance of low and high flows and their timing for fish breeding and recruitment. This information is being incorporated into management practices.
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Leadership needed on clearing
Since European settlement, the clearing of native vegetation has dramatically altered the hydrology of the Australian landscape. Despite the knowledge that land clearing causes dryland salinity, the practice continues. Only an end to land clearing, and
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Peddling the new commodities
The Ecosystems Services Project aims to assess the goods and services produced by ecosystems in catchments across Australia, and help planners and land managers understand their ecological, economic and social values. One of the key challenges of the project, however, lies in defining markets for these services.
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The Murray or the MCG?
Implementing the reforms outlined by the Wentworth Group will be expensive. Studies suggest that a public investment of $20 billion is required during the next 10-20 years. The Wentworth Group argues this major investment is needed if we are to restore the degraded parts of our landscape.
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Reform lost in red tape
Catchment management needs to be moved away from the states and into the hands of people who understand regional issues.
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Do sediments sully the reef?
About one-quarter of the Queensland land surface drains into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Runoff of sediments, nutrients and other pollutants has increased several-fold since before European settlement, but the issue of impact on the reef has been contentions. Most of the sediment and nutrients come from cattle grazing. Sugarcane production also makes a disproportionate contribution to sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus discharge. Flood plumes tend to hug the coast and the greatest pressure due to runoff seems to be on some 200 near-shore reefs. Evidence for deleterious impacts on coral reefs is growing.
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People and biodiversity linked
Research indicates a positive correlation between human population density and species richness across the tropics. That is people and biodiversity coincide.
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Fish by-catch dilemmas
Many fish caught in commercial fishing traps are undersized and so discarded. Researchers are designing a new trap to reduce this by-catch.
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Lizards cool under fire
Researchers have investigated the immediate impact of a controlled burn on ground-dwelling lizards in an open eucalypt forest in south-east Queensland. The research showed that lizard species richness was not affected by the control burn and nor was abundance of most species.
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Termite magnetism
The mounds of the magnetic or compass termite are aligned due to magnetic cues.
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Sea snakes and trawling
Sea snakes are caught by trawlers in Australia's Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF). A study has revealed one species of sea snake, Hydrophis pacificus, to be most at risk from trawling. The study also revealed that two large species had a limited capacity to sustain fishing mortality.
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Counting catches in the light of the moon
Lunar phases affect prawn behaviour and subsequently catch rates. Some prawns bury themselves in the sediment to avoid moonlight and predators, while juvenile prawns can ride tidal movements to favourable nursery habitats.
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