In this issue

Issue 88

A few daisies short of the chain
Studies of the small native daisy, the button wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides), are aiming to establish what size plant population is needed to avoid inbreeding. This knowledge is vital to plans for conserving species.
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Sewage sludge, better in forests than seas
Preliminary results are emerging from a project aimed at developing guidelines for fertilising radiata pine plantations with biosolids (sewage sludge). The project is using field and laboratory studies to determine the quantities of biosolids that can be applied without environmental risk in specific circumstances, and what boost to tree growth can be expected.
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Stormwater: finding out who cares
The Australian Research Centre for Water in Society, has been studying the issue of stormwater management. Research involves community attitudes to stormwater and investigation of the feasibility of community involvement in stormwater management.
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Fiery end feared for Top End's favourite hopper
Leichhardt's grasshopper, Petasida ephippigera, is dependent on aromatic shrubs of the genus Pityrodia, on which it lives and feeds. The colourful grasshopper, which is known to occur in the Kakadu and Keep River National Parks, NT, could be endangered b
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Beans means methane for some
Methane has been identified as making up about one-fifth of Australia's greenhouse emissions. Researchers have been studying the methane production of herbivorous marsupials and of humans.
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A clever companion in the pipeline
A robot, code-named PIRAT (Pipe Inspection Real-time Assessment Technique), is being used to assess Melbourne's 18,000 kilometre sewer network.
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Molecular magic sets a trap for the 'flu
Now in its final testing phase, an anti-influenza drug developed by Australian scientists appears set for release by 2000. Trials in human volunteers in the United States suggest that the compound, code-named GG167, confers a high level of protection against influenza and reduces the severity and duration of an established infection.
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Putting the 'eco' in tourism at Kakadu
A study has been undertaken to determine how best to manage and sustain the Yellow Waters boat tours, a wildlife-based tourism operation in the Kakadu National Park, NT. It investigated the environmental, social and economic factors behind the successful and profitable continuance of the tours. The research tested an approach to analysing ecotourism which blends social science and biology and can serve as a model for future studies. Many of the results were able to be used to make practical recommendations for future management of the tours.
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Winning back the macadamia
A macadamia breeding programme is exploring the genetic diversity available in wild macadamia species with the aim to improve the efficiency of Australian orchards and the quantity and variety of nuts they produce.
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A 'new' proteaceae with an ancient tale
A new species of proteaceae has been found on Mt Bartle Frere, Qld. The tree's large seeds may hold clues to the prehistory of the Australian flora, as they are identical to a fossilised nut found in 1883, in sedimentary rocks near Ballarat, 2,500 kilometres south of where the species grows today. The species has been named Eidothea zoexylocarya.
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And how is the Earth today?
Australia's role in Earth observation will reach new heights with the launch of the European Space Agency's third remote-sensing satellite, Envisat. On board Envisat will be the 30 per cent Australian owned and developed Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR), a sensor that monitors the health of the Earth by regularly taking its temperature from space.
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Testing the senses
The Australian Continental Integrated Ground-truth Site Network is being set up to obtain long-term measurements of surface temperature, radiative fluxes and albedo. The data will be used to calibrate satellite instruments and to validate their measurements. Amburla, NT, is the second field station in the growing network, and has been used to fine-tune and ensure the long-term accuracy of an interferometer, which will be carried on a Japanese Advanced Earth Observing System (ADEOS) satellite to be launched in August 1996.
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The tale behind mad cows
Prions have been found to be responsible for diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The existence of prions challenges many assumptions about the nature of infectious disease.
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Biological controller
A profile of Australian biochemist Annabelle Duncan's role as a United Nations biological weapons inspector in Iraq, and as Australia's representative for the Biological Weapons Convention.
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Woodlands meet a grave demise
A survey of the white box woodlands throughout their range on the south and central west slopes of New South Wales has estimated that only about 0.01 per cent of the original grassy white box woodlands exists in a relatively pristine state. By studying the biodiversity of the woodlands and the genetics of white box trees in some of the fragments, a conservation strategy for this particular ecosystem has been devised.
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