Image: IMAS researcher Sarah Ugalde

Research stories

The following stories relate to Tasmania’s Research sector.

Ancient ash inspires fire plan

Edition 190_Maynard

A core sample taken from a secluded lake on lungtalanana/Clarke Island in Bass Strait suggests Aboriginal people were using fire management there at least 41,000 years ago.

5 December 2017, Edition 190

Seafood testing given upgrade

The Tasmanian Government has invested $1.2 million to help upgrade Analytical Services Tasmania to become a world-class laboratory that can service the State's seafood industry. The Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff, told the Shellfish Futures Industry Annual Conference: "This will provide a fast reliable service supporting not only our shellfish sector but lobster, abalone, scallop and clam industries ... We’re continuing to work in partnership with industry to ensure we have a modern and effective system that guarantees quality of our shellfish product, protects our brands and provides market access." Mr Rockliff said $765,000 had been allocated in this year’s Budget to assist the oyster industry's recovery from the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome outbreak last summer.

5 December 2017, Edition 190

IMAS takes on POMS threat

Scientists are working with oyster farmers to reduce the impact of a likely outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome this summer. Last year's outbreak has caused an impending oyster shortage this festive season and signs of the virus are expected to emerge again when water temperatures consistently reach 18C, most likely later in December. The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Science has a research team working with growers on ways of reducing mortality in POMS-affected areas through husbandry and farm-management adjustments affecting oyster size and age, handling, stocking densities, positioning of oysters in the water column, and the cooling of oysters. Dr Sarah Ugalde said: “Mechanical grading is quicker, but much more stressful for the oyster compared to grading by hand and this may make them more susceptible to the virus.” POMS was first detected in Tasmanian waters in January 2016 and spread to five growing areas — Little Swanport, Blackman Bay, Pittwater, and Pipe Clay Lagoon — causing widespread oyster deaths that resulted in financial stress and job losses among oyster growers.

5 December 2017, Edition 190

Ten new cockroaches found

Ten new species of cockroach have been discovered in Tasmania since 2014, three of them in the Launceston backyard of Natural Sciences Collections Officer, Simon Fearn, from the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Mr Fearn said only about five out the 5,000 known species of cockroaches were pests, contaminating food and spreading disease. “Most cockroaches never come into your house, they just live in the bush and they play a vital role in breaking down nutrients and leaf litter, and pollinating plants,” he said. “Just a handful of urban, introduced cockroaches are giving the whole group a bad name, whereas the majority are actually doing us a service.” Mr Fearn said the new Tasmanian species have yet to be formally described by a taxonomist, a lengthy scientific process. Mr Fearn told The Examiner he had identified 700 different species on his cockroach-rich quarter-acre block.

5 December 2017, Edition 190

Albatrosses take to new nests

Shy albatrosses have taken boldly to artificial nests airlifted by scientists to a remote Bass Strait island to try to lift breeding rates. Darren Grover from World Wildlife Fund Australia said: “Out on Albatross Island, the weather is getting warmer and it’s getting wetter and that makes it hard for [an] albatross nest to stay together.” To overcome the emerging problem, 120 artificial nests made from concrete, rammed earth and other materials have been delivered by helicopter and placed in the exact locations preferred by the fussy seabirds. Government biologist Rachael Alderman said: “We know that a high-quality nest is more likely to produce an albatross chick, so we’re trialling these artificial nests as a way of giving the population a boost in the hope that that will offset the effects of climate change.” The shy albatross is listed as vulnerable, with about 15,000 breeding pairs left. Albatross Island is one of three Tasmanian nesting sites. “The birds have responded really well, they’ve taken to the nests like they were their own. They’ve laid eggs in the nests and now it’s up to us to monitor them through the rest of the season,” Dr Alderman said. The breeding season continues until March.

6 November 2017, Edition 189

Seaweed in brain breakthrough

Edition 189_Williams

Seaweed extracts produced by Tasmanian biopharmaceutical company Marinova are proving effective in the treatment of traumatic brain injury.

5 November 2017, Edition 189

Lobster hatchery to lead world

Edition 188_Heywood Smith

The world’s first commercial rock lobster hatchery will be built in Tasmania following a $10 million deal between Hobart-based aquaculture supplier PFG Group and the University of Tasmania.

3 October 2017, Edition 188

The legend of Jimmy Possum

Edition 188_Epworth

The legend of a reclusive bush carpenter named Jimmy Possum persists in craft-minded Deloraine – and his chairs are treated with respect by knowledgeable collectors far beyond the town.

3 October 2017, Edition 188

$2.6m for dementia research

UTAS research into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has received just over $2.6 million in the latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) round of grants. The university secured three Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowships, providing support to each researcher over four years. The new Fellows are: Dr Brad Sutherland, Faculty of Health — School of Medicine; Dr Michele Callisaya, Menzies Institute for Medical Research; and Associate Professor Anna King, Faculty of Health — Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre. UTAS’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Brigid Heywood, said: “Dementia is now the second major cause of death in Australia and is increasing in prevalence worldwide. The university’s research in this significant area has already had a proven, positive impact on the community and this new funding will help us continue our efforts.”

6 September 2017, Edition 187

QVMAG retells our oldest story

Edition 186_Patsy Cameron and Greg Lehman with QVMAGs Aboriginal clan map

It has taken 1,000 generations, but the story of Tasmania’s first people is now being told in unprecedented style through a permanent exhibition at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston.

1 August 2017, Edition 186

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Bigger, cleaner ships for TT-Line

Edition 190_TT-Line

TT-Line is set to order two new, bigger and cleaner ships to boost capacity and heighten customer appeal on its Bass Strait service.

11 December 2017, Edition 190

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