In this issue

Issue 86

Satellites reveal a bleak landscape
Changes in Australia's land cover, from the combined effects of clearing, grazing and feral animals, have disturbing implications for the continent's biodiversity, according to a CSIRO mapping program. Using satellite imaging, scientists have established that during the past 200 years more than one million square kilometres of native forest and woodland have been cleared or thinned.
PDF file Download Article

River algae go with the flow
A CSIRO team has been studying how river flow affects algal blooms. The team has been measuring and modelling physical processes in the Maude Weir pool, a 30 kilometre long stretch of the Murrumbidgee River.
PDF file Download Article

Learning from nature's recyclers
Ecologists are exploring termites multiple roles as restorers of ecosystems, important agents of soil formation and maintenance, and indicators of rehabilitation success after landscape disturbance such as mining. The mining company Comalco has commissioned a study looking at the recolonisation of mine sites by termites.
PDF file Download Article

New outlook smooths the way for coal and beef
The effect of coal mine pit water on tropical-breed beef cattle productivity found that pit water containing up to 2,000 mg/litre sulphite was not hazardous to the health and growth of tropical-breed beef steers. The results also showed that pit water could be used as an emergency drinking supply for cattle.
PDF file Download Article

A 'grassroots' project takes forage to the hills
The need for expert help to select species and develop systems for improved forage and pasture production has led to a joint Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)/CSIRO project. The project identified six grasses and legumes, mostly from Africa and tropical America, suitable for growing on hill farms in several Asian countries, particularly on acid soils. The forages project is taking a grassroots approach to solving farm productivity problems in South-East Asia.
PDF file Download Article

Survival in the Strait
In 1985, Australia and Papua New Guinea established the Torres Strait Protected Zone to protect the traditional lifestyle of its Islander inhabitants, including the hunt for dugong and turtle. Today, the role of the dugong in sustaining the cultural traditions of the Torres Strait is as pervasive as ever. However, the unexpectedly high fishing levels of dugongs bring cultural and conservation principles into potential conflict.
PDF file Download Article

Treading carefully with cadmium
Indigenous people of the Cape York coast and on Torres Strait islands have been warned about eating the livers and kidneys of dugongs and turtles, as these could cause cadmium poisoning.
PDF file Download Article

Giving soils the shock treatment
The need to treat contaminated soils where they lie has inspired a novel approach to site clean-ups. CSIRO and Caltex Australia are experimenting with a new 'soil-washing' process based on a technique called electrokinetics. Electrokinetics involves applying a direct current to electrodes placed in the soil, causing the chemicals to move towards the electrodes, where they can be collected and removed.
PDF file Download Article

What's toxic to ecosystems?
Chemical tests alone cannot offer a comprehensive diagnosis of site contamination. To compensate for these shortcomings, chemical analyses are supported by a separate suite of 'ecotoxicological' tests based on living organisms. A range of species, selected from different levels in the ecosystem, is used to assess the toxicity of media collected from contaminated sites.
PDF file Download Article

Well-fed bacteria a faster cure for diesel leaks
Scientists at CSIRO are working with naturally-occurring bacteria to speed the breakdown of organic contaminants.
PDF file Download Article

A tale of two geckos
The reticulated velvet gecko, Oedura reticulata, and the tree dtella, Gehyra variegata, have survived in remnants of original vegetation. With so much wildlife threatened by vegetation clearance and fragmentation, studying these species that have survived in the face of such radical habitat change might explain the demise of less-fortunate species.
PDF file Download Article

Acid air? Tracking acidification in Australia and Asia
During the past 15 years, CSIRO's Dr Greg Ayers has investigated the impact on rainwater of Australia's sprawling cities and growing industrialisation. Ayers is recognised as Australia's authority on atmospheric acidification and his research and monitoring work are helping government and industry to safeguard the environment. He says understanding the extent of the problem is crucial to preventing environmental damage.
PDF file Download Article

Every dog has its day
A profile of CSIRO botanist Bernie Hyland. For 35 years, Hyland has traipsed Australia's northern jungles in search of new and rare plant specimens.
PDF file Download Article

Scientists rat on beastly names
Four scientists have proposed name changes for many of Australia's rodent species. The scientists believe that using the rodents' Aboriginal names might engender more support for the rodents.
PDF file Download Article

Past Issues



January 2015


December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014

Past Years

2010 to 2013
2000 to 2009
1990 to 1999
1980 to 1989
1974 to 1979

ECOS Archive

Welcome to the ECOS Archive site which brings together 40 years of sustainability articles from 1974-2014.

For more recent ECOS articles visit the blog. You can also sign up to the email alert or RSS feed