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Issue 104




Scouring process yields the fertiliser that grew on sheep
Wool mills are set to benefit from a new processing technology that turns wool scouring waste into valuable by-products. The Sirolan SWIMS (Scour Waste Integrated Management System) removes the dirt, suint and wool wax from wool during scouring or cleaning. These contaminants can then be recovered from wastewater and converted to valuable resources, including fertiliser and potting mix.
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Songs of isolation?
The songs of birds restricted to the cool rainforests of Queensland's tropical north for millennia have provided the first evidence that the geographic isolation of bird populations can promote song variation within species.
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Hairy harbingers
Spiders and grasshoppers are potential indicators of environmental health. These bioindicators will aid conservation planning and help managers assess and monitor the health of environments affected by grazing, mining, tourism, agriculture or fire.
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Making a splash on the market
Research on prawn domestication, selective breeding and disease prevention strategies aims to raise the productivity and sustainability of all Australia's farmed prawns. The research will also help the industry to depend less on wild broodstock to produce prawn larvae.
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Precision farming, from pond to plate
Rocky Point Prawn farm on the Logan River, Qld, produces about 55 tonnes of Kuruma prawns and 40 tonnes of giant tiger prawns annually.
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Viral profiling: our first line of defence
A growing understanding of prawn viruses is helping to protect and improve Australia's low-disease status and to rescue the Asian prawn industry from viral demise.
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Tigers in their tanks
Domestication of the giant tiger prawn is within sight. Research at the Australian Institute of Marine Science has coaxed captive tiger prawns to breed in commercial quantities. As well as giving prawn farmers control of the production cycle, the work will enable the culturing of giant tiger prawn larvae, which are traditionally sought from wild stocks in the sea.
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Shrimp map to guide genetic selection
Scientists are working to construct a genetic linkage map of the tiger prawn genome. The map will flag the position of 'anonymous' DNA markers. These will be used as reference points for seeking the genes for commercially important traits.
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Discharging responsibly
A three year study of pond and effluent management practices at Australian prawn farms has yielded innovative ways of reducing the nutrient and suspended sediment content of pond water discharged to rivers and creeks.
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Stocking the Gulf with tigers
Researchers are collaborating in a stock enhancement study that focuses on the brown tiger prawn in Exmouth Gulf, WA. The study will develop techniques for releasing farmed prawns into nursery grounds to enhance prawn fisheries, and will test its feasibility.
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Domesticus interruptus
Under the right conditions, mouse populations can quickly become plagues, causing costly grain losses in eastern and southern Australia. Researchers are applying their knowledge of immunology to develop a mouse contraceptive delivered by a non-fatal mouse virus. Computer modelling is being used to study the behaviour or epidemiology of the virus in wild mouse populations.
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Sharing the limelight
A profile of the career of CSIRO marine scientist Shirley Jeffrey.
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Can quolls be our companions?
Keeping native animals as pets may be a good way to conserve them and boost their public image. One potential pet is the quoll.
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Why do some spiders decorate their webs?
Spiders in the genus Argiope sometimes add decorations to their webs in the form of densely woven bands or ribbons of UV-reflective silk. Research indicates that web decorations act as prey attractants.
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Speed kills animals too
Research indicates that increased traffic speed in wilderness areas increases mortality of wildlife. Mortality increased in a population of eastern quolls and Tasmanians devils when the Cradle Mountain Tourist Road, Tas, was upgraded.
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Life and death at the forest's edge
Roads built through tropical rainforests can affect the composition of small mammal communities living alongside the roads. In a study conducted north of Kuranda, Qld, the abundance of fawn-footed melomys was greater close to the road than in areas further away, while significantly more Rattus species lived further from the road, preferring the undisturbed forest interior.
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Bad news for the predators of pilchards
In October 1998, mass mortality of Australian pilchards began in South Australia and spread across the species range over a period of seven months. The cause is believed to be due to a virus. The decline is bad for species that rely on pilchards for food.
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Dingoes, roos ... and a long, long fence
Research on population size in red kangaroos and emus on either side of Australia's dingo fence indicates that dingoes may sometimes 'regulate' kangaroo and emu populations.
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Tracking the complex nose of pollution
CSIRO Atmospheric Research has designed The Air Pollution Model (TAPM), a computer model that traces the effects of air pollution originating hundreds of kilometres away.
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