The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year is awarded to scientists at early or mid-career investigation stages in their careers. It’s recognition
of the contribution Australian scientists make on the global stage to ecology and environmental sciences and this year was won by Australian Research
Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson. Kerrie is also Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence
for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and works with the TSR Hub on Project 6.4. We spoke with Kerrie about the news.
Q: What does the Fenner prize mean to you?
A: The award is open to all disciplines in the life sciences from biomedical research through to ecology. The fact that ecologists, Jane Elith in 2015 and myself in 2016, have taken the award two years in a row is quite incredible. The fact that we are women in science and have worked part-time for much of our careers reveals a greater acceptance of diversity in the sciences and of the multiple pathways that can lead to successful and fulfilling careers.
Q: Why is it important to conservation science?
A: It reflects not only our significant contribution to Australia’s goals for demonstrating scientific excellence but also our contribution to delivering innovative solutions to addressing the loss of biodiversity.”
Q: How can this recognition affect conservation science?
A: Australia boasts roughly 10% of the world’s biodiversity, and also a large proportion of global intellectual capacity in the discipline. Conservation science is by definition an interdisciplinary pursuit and the profile afforded by this award will enhance its reputation and open new opportunities for collaboration.
Photo: Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year winner, Kerrie Wilson.
New Hub research has quantified the extent of predation by cats on Australia’s birds and identified the species and types of birds most vulnerable to cats. The team found that cats kill over 1 million birds per day in Australia. The total is made up of an estimated 316 million birds killed by feral cats and 61 million killed by pet cats each year.
Sound recorders have been installed across farm land in south-western Victoria and on Kangaroo Island in research to help threatened glossy black-cockatoos and south-eastern red-tailed black-cockatoos, by learning more about their breeding.
As cats and foxes have spread across Australia, islands have prevented the extinctions of several mammals like the boodie. Associate Professor Sarah Legge discusses the importance of safe havens and also summarizes the highlights of a recent 'safe-haven' symposium held at the International Mammalogy Congress in Perth.
The TSR Hub is one of six National Environmental Science Programme hubs and each is making its own important contribution to the national effort to recover our threatened species. Hub Director Brendan Wintle takes a look beyond the TSR Hub to highlight the good work being done on threatened species by our sister hubs.
On sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island a multi-million dollar eradication program removed cats in 2000 and rabbits, rats and mice in 2013. In the aftermath of this effort, beautiful things are emerging. Dr Justine Shaw is leading a TSR Hub project to learn from this experience and monitor how ecosystems respond.