In this issue

Issue 100

Fire - finding the best prescription
The way Australian forests' burn has changed in the past 200 years. Researchers are studying what impact such changes have on forest ecology.
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Test of time and tide
CSIRO has been involved in long-term studies of oceans and the marine environment. These studies include detection of ocean movements, research into microalgae pigments, discovery of the northern prawn fishery, and the tracking of bluefin tuna.
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Unravelling the mysteries of land and sea
Graeme O'Neill recalls advances and challenges in environmental science that Ecos has chronicled in its first 25 years.
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Healing the Derwent's murky blues
In 1974, the people of Hobart, Tas, were told the Derwent was the most polluted river in the world. Polluting practices have been curtailed since then, but much of the contamination remains buried in the river sediments. An integrated management program offers the next step towards restoration.
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Taking the air
In 1999, scientists converged on the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, Tas, to take part in SOAPEX, the southern hemisphere's largest investigation of atmospheric photochemistry. During the six week experiment, air measurements were taken from land, sea and air. The aim was to study what happens when light shines on the atmosphere boundary layer above the ocean, the area in which gases are mixed. The study yielded a catalogue of chemicals involved in photochemical reactions in unpolluted air and will lead to significant advances in the understanding of key atmospheric processes.
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Did anyone mention the environment?
The environment has come and gone as an issue in recent years. While it is an issue that regularly scores well in polls to identify public perceptions of matters for concern, it is not high on any political agendas.
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Clean skies ahead
An overview of past and present CSIRO air pollution research - such as the Lagrangian Atmospheric Dispersion Model (LADM) modelling system and the Australian Air Quality Forecasting System.
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Making plantations the growth industry
Scientific developments in recent years have helped to make forestry more sustainable thanks to continuing advances in forest and plantation management practices. Ongoing research will further enhance the ability of forest managers to preserve biodiversity and other environmental values.
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The water eaters
Australians are adopting an enlightened approach to water management. However, making up for past mistakes will require major shifts in food production and new respect for water catchments.
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Weeding out the enemy
Garden plants are the greatest source of introduced weed species. Genetic engineering techniques, such as the 'Terminator Gene' may play a role in reducing the risk of ornamental plants becoming weeds.
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Keeping our agents in control
Researchers are investigating the use of cochineal insects to control prickly pear, and plume moths to control horehound. It takes time to identify and select the natural enemies that will do most damage, and rigorous studies are conducted to determine whether control insects could have any impact on non-target species. Developing techniques for incorporating biological control into integrated weed management strategies is necessary to maximise the effectiveness of biocontrol agents.
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News from the frontline
CSIRO Entomology is involved in biological control projects for eight environmental weeds: St John's wort, horehound, Scotch broom, bitou bush (boneseed), arum lily, bridal creeper, water hyacinth and Mimosa pigra.
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Ecology takes on the human touch
CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology turned 50 in 1999 amid debate about funding directions that favour applied research. While some fear the loss of 'pure science', others say that people belong to ecological systems, and understanding and influencing their role is part of the challenge of ecological research. A wide range of the division's projects now demonstrate a greater engagement of the scientist with society. A consequence of this has been the identification of new issues requiring basic research.
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Slow change on the range
A long-term grazing experiment in semi-arid mulga woodlands near Lake Mere Station, NSW, indicates perennial grasses are critical for maintaining landscape function. In related research, researchers have been studying the proliferation of native shrubs that have been favoured by changes to the natural fire regime.
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