Restoring the Murray-Darling Basin
Land degradation and salinity in the Murray-Darling Basin have been caused by removal of native trees and large scale irrigation. Reforestation is taking place using suitable trees, and computer modelling to plant them where they will be most useful.
Encouraging more oil to flow
To enhance oil recovery bacteria are used which produce surfactants to aid the oil flow. Introduced bacteria were not tolerant of the conditions in oil wells, so microbiologically enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) has been succeeded by use of bacteria already existing in the oil wells - biological oil stimulation (BOS).
Keeping track of corrosion
The quantities of pollutants in the air can be correlated with the extent of corrosion they cause. A corrosion map shows where corrosion is highest. The subject of the world's first corrosion map was Melbourne; now a similar project is nearly finished for Greater Newcastle. Causes of higher corrosion rates and the relative performance of building and cladding materials have been studied. Since snow and ice were removed from equipment and food cans in Scott's hut at Ross Island, severe rust and corrosion have developed.
Can trees help curb the greenhouse effect?
The chief cause of the greenhouse effect is the increasing quantity of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is essential for plant growth, being one of the raw materials of photosynthesis. Planting trees is one suggested solution to the problem. Computer models show that extensive tree planting does not offer a means of substantially reducing Australia's contribution to the greenhouse effect.
Bass Strait scallops in trouble
Bass Strait scallops have been nearly fished out. The last major bed in Bass Strait was depleted in 1986 leaving Australia with a series of impoverished fishing grounds. For sustainable production, fishing practices will have to be changed. Sufficient adults must remain each season to produce enough offspring to maintain population levels next season.
Ear to stay
Rabbits are justly famed for their legendary ability to reproduce rapidly and spread almost everywhere because they are adaptable. Rabbits from different regions of the country have different ear sizes. Breeding experiments show that rabbits have the ability to adapt their ear size to the prevailing environment over one generation.
A blight on our gums?
Eucalypts are susceptible to the chestnut blight fungus now found in much of the Northern Hemisphere. As well as chestnut trees the parasite attacks oaks in Europe, North America and Japan. Eucalypts in Japan have been found to be infected by the fungus.
How nature protects the soil
Planting trees to control salinity and erosion does not automatically mean that the soil will be protected. Sometimes the way a tree intercepts and changes the erosive potential of raindrops can mean it causes more damage than it prevents.
Butterflies from an ant's nest
In a few patches of mangrove near Brisbane the nests of species of ant are home to the caterpillars of a small butterfly, Acrodipsas illidgei. Foraging ants find the caterpillars on dead mangrove twigs and carry them into their nests within the plant. The caterpillars feed by sucking juices from developing ant larvae until they pupate and then fly away.