2013 Science Grant winners
In 2013, HSI was pleased to offer two grants of $7000 each. The successful applicants were:
PhD candidate Sarsha Gorissen of the University of Sydney was awarded $7,000 towards her project on the little-known Blue Mountains Water Skink, Eulamprus leuraensis, found only within the endangered highland swamps of the Blue Mountains and the adjacent Newnes Plateau. This endangered lizard is restricted to about 40 isolated swamps, most of them small, fragmented and close to urban areas. This unique habitat type is threatened by processes acting on a local scale (e.g., urbanisation, weed invasion, introduced animals, forestry and mining) as well as on a landscape scale (e.g., changes in climate and in fire regimes). In particular, the effects of fire on the Blue Mountains Water Skink remain unknown. Sarsha’s research project aims to produce guidelines for more effective management of the endangered swamp ecosystem; show how the threatened species in this system are likely to respond to threatening processes (especially, alterations in fire regimes); and, clarify the ecology of the distinctive biotic assemblages that rely upon these swamps, with a focus on the Blue Mountains Water Skink. We urgently need to know more about this iconic threatened species if we are to protect it from extinction.
To read Sarsha Gorissen's progress report download PDF (237 kB)
Research student Alexander Wray-Barnes of the University of Newcastle was awarded $7,000 towards his collaborative project with the NSW Department of Primary Industries which focuses on determining the age and growth rates of the smooth hammerhead shark Sphyrna zygaena, quantifying the environmental and oceanographic factors influencing their distribution and investigating the nature of their interactions with commercial fisheries in south eastern Australia. Current and historical commercial fishery and shark net data; remote sensing data, such as sea surface temperature, ocean productivity (using chlorophyll a as a surrogate); water depth; and, bathymetric mapping data will be analysed using geographical information system (GIS) software. The result will be a detailed map of the species’ distribution over seasons and longer times frames, as well as the environmental and spatial factors affecting their distribution and coastal movements. The findings of this research will contribute to the development of national, and possibly international, environmental policy and management plans for S. zygaena. The findings will also be available to assist with vulnerability assessments, such as the proposal to list S. zygaena as a vulnerable species in Australia.
To read Alexander Wray-Barnes progress report download PDF (412 kB)