In this issue

Issue 89

Calicivirus and climate: investigating the link
A model developed by CSIRO's Division of Wildlife and Ecology could provide a useful tool to predict the spread of rabbit calicivirus (RCV). The model to investigate how the disease is spreading is based on the concept that movement of the virus could be linked with an insect vector and climatic patterns.
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Testing the defences of transgenic cottons
CSIRO is to field test transgenic cotton varieties which contain the Ingard gene, derived from soil-borne bacterium. The gene provides protection against caterpillar pests.
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Paying less for thermal comfort
A software program called NatHERS has been developed by CSIRO, which aids in designing energy efficient buildings by allowing architects and builders to simulate the energy requirements of house designs.
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Melbourne's playground passes four-year health test
Port Phillip Bay, Vic, has been the focus of a four-year study. The Port Phillip Bay Environmental Study involved 47 research tasks - covering physical oceanography, toxicants, algal nutrients, marine ecology and ecological modelling.
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Satisfaction at the helm
Neil Cheshire is captain of the RV Franklin one of two research vessels operated by CSIRO's Marine Laboratories. The Franklin is a National facility, and is used equally for research and joint projects with international institutions.
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Gene loss and climate change: a recipe for extinction?
The northern hairy-nosed wombat, Lasiorhinus krefftii, has experienced a significant decline in genetic diversity as a result of habitat loss and degradation. Researchers are studying the wombat, of which only 65 remain, to develop a management plan.
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Tilting at clouds
A LIDAR is a laser-based device that fires brief, intense beams of coherent light through the atmosphere. A sensitive telescope attached to the laser detects the returning light. The intensity and polarisation of the backscattered light yields details of the structure, density and composition of clouds or plumes in the beam's narrow path. A LIDAR has been developed and built by CSIRO.
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Keeping tabs on environmental conduct
Australia: State of the Environment 1996 is a comprehensive report outlining key challenges facing managers of Australia's land and water resources, human settlements and biological diversity. The report assesses Australia's progress toward ecological sustainability, and lays a framework for refining the knowledge base on which environmental decisions are made.
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The ins and outs of where we live
Australian settlements use more resources and produce more wastes than those in other industrial nations. Australian's use of water, energy, land and food; and generation of solid waste, sewage and stormwater is outlined.
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Dragging our tail on greenhouse
While Australia produces only 1-2 per cent of global carbon dioxide, the country's per capita emissions are among the world's highest. Initiatives to reduce emissions have largely achieved limited success.
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The awful truth about robbing rivers
Diversion of water from river systems, predominantly for irrigation, has caused waterlogging, salination, and the degradation of wetlands and riverine environments. Catchment and water management that recognises the extreme variability of Australia's rainfall and runoff is vital to improving the condition of inland waters.
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Drawing new lines in the landscape
The removal and fragmentation of native vegetation and wildlife habitat in agricultural land is an immediate threat to Australia's biodiversity. Farmers and community groups should establish 'landscape linkages' through taking account of landscape features when planning and planting to produce networks of vegetation.
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Are we keeping the best in reserve?
A haphazard approach to the selection of land for nature conservation has shaped a national reserve system that may not adequately protect Australia's biological diversity. A new system developed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has opened the way for a more sophisticated approach to the selection of land for conservation reserves.
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Teamwork needed from inland to coast
Intense pollution resulting from human activities is degrading coastal habitats. Other signs of deterioration include the rising incidence of algal blooms, an increasing number of introduced species and reduction in fish stocks. Management of marine and coastal systems require an integrated and coordinated approach.
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Pest control in the deep
In Australia, several introduced marine pests have the potential to damage the environment and the economy. The Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests (CRIMP) is investigating a range of approaches to control marine pests. Biological control in the affected environment offers the most likely method of combating two introduced species - the North Pacific seastar, Asterias amurensis, and the European green crab, Carcinus maenas.
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Preparing for battle with Bufo marinus
As the cane toad, Bufo marinus, makes its way north, south and west across Australia, scientists are working on the problem of what can be done about this notorious invader. The two main avenues of study involve assessing the toad's impact on native fauna and searching for biological control. One study will test several viruses for their potential as biocontrol agents.
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Termite tactics: adapting to a land of change
Termites are abundant and diverse over most of inland Australia, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. Understanding how termites have responded to land use changes since European colonisation is vital particularly as their survival is linked to that of native plants and animals.
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Shaking more from bush trees
Farming Australian native plants for food and oil is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional enterprises as the market grows for native products. Australia's native peach, the quandong, Santalum acuminatum, could be the next 'bushfood' to whet international appetites.
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