October was a busy month for TSR Hub researchers in the media, with several researchers appearing in the news – both online and on the airwaves.
Dr Dejan Stojanovic from the TSR Hub’s Tackling threats to endangered hollow-nesting birds (Project 2.2 led by Professor Rob Heinsohn) shared early signs of success with Melissa Davey from The Guardian. Threatened swift parrots have made use of nesting boxes installed by scientists and volunteers and the project was boosted by a successful crowd funding campaign.
In a further example of art supporting science, artist Chips Mackinolty has lent his distinct style to highlight the plight of the Alligator River yellow chat. Proceeds raised from the sale of Chips’ prints will go to a project supervised by TSR Hub researcher Stephen Garnett. Professor Garnett will use the money to fund Indigenous co-researchers and purchase tracking equipment.
Associate professor Sarah Legge has revealed the latest and most comprehensive estimate of Australia’s feral cat population in an interview with ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly. Following collaborative research with 40 feral cat scientists and experts, the feral cat population is now estimated to be between 2.1 million and 6.3 million – revised down from a previous estimate of about 18 million made 20 years ago.
TSR Hub's Project 1.1.8 Using Guardian dogs to protect threatened species, led by Christopher Johnson, has received media coverage this week on ABC landline and ABC news online.
TSR Hub researchers Dr April Reside and Stephen Kearney have collaborated with fellow University of Queensland associates Bonnie Mappin, James Watson and Sarah Chapman on an article for The Conversation, listing Four environmental reasons why fast-tracking the Carmichael coal mine is a bad idea.
Their article explains that the proposed mine expansion will make it difficult for Australia to meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, the dredging of the seabed off Abbot Point will have a deleterious effect on the Great Barrier Reef, the mine itself will extract a large volume of valuable groundwater, and habitat loss due to the mine will place the endangered southern black-throated finch population under increased strain.
Photo: Swift parrots eggs have begun hatching in Tasmania, photo by @TeamSwiftParrot
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.