In this issue

Issue 91

Fire and life at the Top
Fire is a natural part of the environment of Australia's Top End, but little reliable information exists on the long-term ecological effects of different types of fires in the region. In view of this need, a five year fire experiment was conducted between 1990 and 1994 at Kapalga Research Station in the Kakadu National Park, NT. The study included the effects of fire on animal populations, plant regeneration, soil erosion, nutrient cycling and the atmosphere.
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Sharks - looking beyond the bite
Few countries have management plans for their shark fisheries. In Australia, CSIRO scientists are working with fishermen and scientific agencies to increase knowledge of the role played by sharks in ecosystems. Of concern, is the pressure from overfishing and habitat depletion which is threatening survival of the creatures.
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Hermes and the housefly
The unusual gene Hermes belongs to a rapidly-growing list of transposable DNA elements known as jumping genes. These are special genes or segments of DNA which can move around in their host's DNA by self-excising from one location on a chromosome and re-inserting at another. Researchers are working to harness the Hermes transposable element to assist gene transfer to enable control of insect pests, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, the Australian sheep blowfly, and the malaria mosquito.
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The sheep that turned
Gastrointestinal nematode parasites are a significant problem in most sheep breeding regions of the world. Australian merino breeders are learning that genetic variation within sheep can affect worm susceptibility. The worm control program Nemesis Project aims to reduce chemical dependence by breeding resistant sheep.
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Fungi, fast food of the forest
Researchers have found that like squirrels, fungi-eating Australian mammals, such as potoroos, bettongs and marsupial mice, play a role in fungal distribution.
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Young forests pack a mean thirst
Researchers have developed a computer model, named Topog, for predicting the impacts of fire, logging, climate change and natural ageing on water yield from mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans, forests. Such information is vital to efficient management of water resources.
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Soaring down, down and away
Seasoar is a deep-ocean measuring device. Redesign of the device has given scientists an inexpensive way to measure oceans down to 1,000 metres.
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Healthy rivers study links hands across the water
Many Tasmanian schools are involved in the Huon Valley Council's Healthy Rivers Project, which is monitoring environmental indicators along Tasmania's Huon River, and working towards a catchment management strategy for the region. As part of the Healthy Rivers Project, scientists from the CSIRO have begun a study of the river's estuary. An important goal of the Project is to encourage cooperation between government agencies, industry groups, scientists and the community.
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When woodlands ruled the Daintree
Charcoal evidence from Queensland has challenged long-held beliefs about the history and resilience of Australia's tropical rainforests. Research indicates that the rainforests are not as old as previously thought, as rainforest areas were previously dominated by eucalypt woodlands.
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For a deeper knowledge of the forest ... click here
The CD-ROM 'Remote sensing of forest vegetation, Batemans Bay, NSW, Australia', was designed as part of an international five year program called the Global Research Network System. The program aims to develop datasets on meteorology, desertification, coral reefs, ocean colour and vegetation to help understand and document processes that affect the Earth's environment. CSIRO's contribution to the program's vegetation component has been to promote the use of satellite sensing technology in the assessment of forest vegetation.
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Bending lines with the mind
A profile of the work of theoretical ecologist Mike Austin, who with his colleagues used ecological modelling techniques to map the pre-European distribution of vegetation types in New South Wales' southern forests. The map contributed to a NSW Government decision to add about 100,000 hectares to the national parks system.
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