Going DEEPer into research
Each year, the members of our group (DEEP & the UTas CABAH node) gather to hold a mini-conference we call ‘going DEEPer into research’. The main purpose is to introduce newcomers to the group and for each researcher to give an update on what they have been working on over the past year, and present plans for future projects. An important goal of this approach is to keep our group engaged and collaborative.
This year, many of our members were concerned with global-scale issues such as: how we tackle biodiversity loss at a landscape scale, how we define biodiversity and determine areas of priority for conservation, the process of rewilding and assisted transmigrations, projections of future food demand, food waste and human population into 2050, and the relationship between urbanisation and human diseases – just to name a few! We also explored local issues that could potentially have broader implications. Our research group have been hard at work developing species distribution models (SDMs) for multiple Tasmanian species, have started testing improved monitoring methods for estimating animal presence and abundance, and are set to explore the impact of water and resource availability on the breeding success of the Tasmanian native hen (Tribonyx mortierii).
Last year (2017) also marked our integration with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH). The University of Tasmania node aim to cover projects such as: i) exploring Holocene-recent faunal change in Tasmania from owl deposits, ii) reconstructing dynamics of ancient populations in radiocarbon databases, iii) exploring whether lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) diggings influence fire through their impact on litter accumulation and spread. These projects, among others were presented by the current members of the node.
Our guest speakers for the two days were Dr. Phillipa McCormack and Dr. Michael Driessen, who both completed their Ph.D degree at the University of Tasmania. Dr. Phil is a lawyer who is currently teaching at the university, with an interest in the legal frameworks surrounding biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. Dr. Driessen works at the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and is heavily involved in conservation projects in the Wilderness World Heritage Area of Tasmania (TWWHA). Our group’s work is closely aligned to their interests, and we expect this collaboration, and others further afield, to strengthen into the future.
18 April 2018
New students of 2018!
Recently our lab were joined by three new students: Anya Law who was granted a Dean’s Summer Scholarship, and Yvonne and Damien who have just started their Honours degree.
Unlike Yvonne and Damien who are just getting their gears in motion, Anya has finished her research studying the distribution and ecological constraints of the Forester Kangaroos, the Tasmanian subspecies of the eastern grey kangaroos in mainland Australia. After this project, she will be continuing with her Bachelor of Science degree and will be graduating this year.
Yvonne’s project is connected to a previous project of our lab. While the previous project investigated the roadkill of the Tasmanian pademelon, Bennett’s wallaby and bare-nosed wombat in the state, Yvonne will be looking at the influences that live animal abundance along and near routes might have on roadkill concentration and distribution. Yvonne will also only be focusing on the macropod populations.
Damien’s project will involve investigating the impact of the introduced superb lyrebird on leaf-litter accumulation and fire risk in Tasmania’s wet sclerophyll forest. He will be identifying potential future habitat for the lyrebird as they disperse throughout Tasmania, and quantifying the influence they are currently exerting on leaf litter levels within their present range.
Yvonne and Damien will be getting their own personal pages where the details of their projects will be updated. Please keep an eye out for that.
22 February 2018
Last update of 2017!
Greetings from the DEEP lab, and congratulations on finishing another year.
Our research group continues to grow. In 2017 we said goodbye to some of our members, and welcomed new and old faces. As of December 2017 we have 19 members, with hope to be joined by more people in the upcoming years.
Earlier this year, three members of our group put on their graduation hats: Stefania Ondei for her Ph.D, Hanh Nguyen for her Honours degree and Matt Fielding for his Bachelor degree. We had another graduation ceremony on the 19th of December which the group’s research director, Jessie Buettel, who has also finished her Ph.D, was joined by our Honours students Matt Fielding (his 2nd graduation in 2017) and Stuart Rose. Afterward, Matt will be working with us as research assistant and as part of the UTAS node of The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH).
Dr. Emily Flies was awarded the Dean’s award for exceptional performance in community engagement and outreach from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology, University of Tasmania and “2017 Thesis of the Year” from the Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia. She was also named the “Tasmanian STEM Communicator of the Year” by the Government of Tasmania in the second annual Tasmanian STEM Excellence Awards. Our Ph.D candidate Shane Morris also won the Ph.D poster award organised by the University of Tasmania
Beside the many achievements, the members of our group have had our voices heard at multiple scientific conferences such as EcoTas, Breakthrough Institute Dialogue and the CABAH annual symposium, to name a few. The publication page on the website has also been updated with 2017 and early 2018 publications by our members, which can be viewed here.
This year, we finally got to introduce our long-awaited logo, which reflects both ours and CABAH’s fields of interests in research. Can you guess what they are?
Our research group gained a few new members. Tessa Smith and Matt McDowell joined our research group, as well as CABAH, with Tessa the new research assistant and Matt working as postdoc. Cristian Montalvo Mancheno is our newest Ph.D candidate, and his research focus will be updated on the website in the near future. We also welcome back Carley Fuller who had previously worked with us as research assistant. She’s starting her Master of Science that will lead on to her Ph.D project. Sin Yee Law (Anya) is joining us in 2018 to conduct her Dean’s Summer Research scholarship awarded by the University of Tasmania.
In 2018, the website will be updated more frequently. We are pursuing the goal of having at least one blog post written by one of the members of our group published every month on the website on the 28th. These blog posts will cover a broad range of scientific topics, not just the research sides of things but also the political, social and public interactions that are usually less discussed. Due to the upcoming holiday season, this month’s blog post by Carley Fuller has been published early, and can be accessed through our new DEEP Thought page.
We look forward to a new, productive 2018.
Happy holidays from the researchers at DEEP.
20 December 2017
Congratulations to Dr. Emily J. Flies the Tasmanian STEM Communicator of the Year!
Congratulations to Dr. Emily J. Flies of the DEEP Lab for being named the “Tasmanian STEM Communicator of the Year” by the Government of Tasmania in the second annual Tasmanian STEM Excellence Awards. The STEM awards are supported by the Tasmanian Government, University of Tasmania, Engineering Australia and Inspiring Australia; and aims to acknowledge people leading the way in science, technology, engineering and maths, and to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Emily has also received the University of Tasmania Dean’s Award for Exceptional Performance in Community Engagement and Outreach in SET a few months ago. Very well-deserved Emily!
21st November 2017
Effective Conservation Science ‘Data not Dogma’ Book now published!
*Cue controversial discussions*
The DEEP group ARC Laureate Barry Brook and Research Director Jessie Buettel, along with collaborator Erle Ellis recently co-authored a chapter in the book, Effective Conservation Science ‘data not dogma,’ published on the 12th of October 2017.
The book, edited by Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Brian Silliman focuses on controversial questions and discussions, some of which overturn long held theories and assumptions. The book is written by leaders in the field whose expertise spans freshwater, terrestrial, and marine conservation and includes a global range of relevant case studies.
The chapter written by Brook, Ellis, and Buettel asks, what is the evidence for planetary tipping points? As living standards, technological capacities, and human welfare have continued to improve, impacts on natural systems and environmental degradation have become widespread and are associated with the expanding influence of humans. This begs the question of whether long-term societal relationships with the planet’s ecology may be approaching a global tipping point as the human population hurtles toward ten billion people. Their chapter explores the supporting evidence for the nine planetary boundaries, with insights into whether there are global limits or tipping points of earth-system processes.
Now published, it is hoped the book will stimulate productive conversation and increase attention to how preconceived notions can affect research findings. The chapters are written in an accessible and proactive manner with citations to data pertinent to the controversial discussions, so that readers can examine these independently and draw their own conclusions.
What is the evidence for planetary tipping points?
Barry W. Brook, Erle C. Ellis, and Jessie C. Buettel
27th October 2017
Hats off to three of our D.E.E.P students!
The DEEP lab would like to congratulate three of our students for graduating last weekend during the University of Tasmania ceremonies!
Stefania Ondei completed her PhD titled “Battling the elements: Environmental determinants of North Kimberley rainforest”; and is continuing postdoctoral research within the D.E.E.P group.
Hanh Nguyen completed her Honours (Zoology) titled “Predictors of Tasmanian wildlife-vehicle collisions”; earning herself a First Class award!
Matthew Fielding completed his Bachelor of Science (Zoology); and is currently in the final stages of his Honours research.
We are looking forward to their future research in our DEEP lab!
24th August 2017
Postdoc, RA and PhD Opportunities Available! – CABAH
Two Postdoctoral Research Fellows, one Research Assistant, and two Ph.D. opportunities are currently being offered within the University of Tasmania Node of the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH). ARC Australian Laureate Prof. Barry Brook and Prof. Chris Johnson are chief investigators. Those undertaking a position will work collaboratively with CABAH and the Dynamics of Eco-Evolutionary Patterns (DEEP) research group to improve understanding of Australia’s unique biodiversity and heritage.
The goals of CABAH are to develop a world-class, interdisciplinary research programme to understand Australia’s unique biodiversity and heritage spanning the last 130,000 years. The research will identify and track long-term environmental change and responsible processes, with knowledge and lessons learned used to predict responses to future environmental changes, and ensure Australia’s biota can adapt successfully.Postdoctoral Research Fellows will be employed on a full time, 2 year fixed-term basis. The role description summary on the University of Tasmania website can be downloaded here (PDF); and the full position description and selection criteria can be downloaded here (PDF).
The Research Assistant will be employed on a full time, 2 year fixed-term basis. The role description summary on the University of Tasmania website can be downloaded here (PDF); and the full position description and selection criteria can be downloaded here (PDF).
Ph.D. research projects, which includes a stipend and logistical support, will be undertaken for 3 years, with a possible 6-month extension. CABAH research possibilities for postgraduate students, and further details, can be downloaded here (PDF).
Applications for these exciting new research opportunities close: Monday, 7 August 2017!
For further information about these positions please contact Barry Brook, Laureate Professor, firstname.lastname@example.org / (03) 6226 2655.
**Please note, your application must as a minimum include your resume, a cover letter and your responses to the position/selection criteria.
14 July 2017
The Future of Humanity – Lecture by Prof. Barry Brook.
Humans have persisted in our modern evolved form for about two hundred millennia, and are now a dominant force of nature on planet Earth, but what is the long-term future of humanity?
The Royal Society of Tasmania invites you to a lecture by the ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Environmental Sustainability, Barry Brook. Our D.E.E.P group Prof. Brook will be delving into The Future of Humanity by considering some forecasts of existential environmental threats facing humanity during the 21st century, and speculate if ‘are humans near the end, or closer to the beginning, of our span as a species’
The lecture will be held on Tuesday the 6th of June, at 8 pm, at the Royal Society Room, TMAG, Hobart. All interested people are welcome. For more information visit: http://www.rst.org.au or download the flyer here.
1 June 2017
B.Sc. Honours students launch their D.E.E.P. research
Honours student in the D.E.E.P. group, Hanh Nguyen (Claudia) and Heather Bryan, have kicked off their research projects in fine form, delivering two brilliant introductory seminars in front of a large audience at the School of Biological Sciences.
Claudia research focuses on “Animal-vehicle collision and its effect on the population viability of Tasmania marsupials“. This involves lots of driving, counting and measuring dead bodies, as well as some serious modelling. A mix of blood and code? She’s loving it anyway, and the work is likely to contribute to identifying ways to mitigate roadkill and maintaining future viability of pademelons, wallabies and wombats.
Heather is working on “Tasmanian snow-skink distributions and persistence under climate change“, under the co-supervision of D.E.E.P.’s Barry Brook, and B.E.E.R.’s Erik Wapstra, plus Claire Hawkins from DPIPWE. She’ll use three different methods (Species Distribution Models, Stochastic-Demographic Models, and Physiological-Behavioural Mechanistic Models), to see whether or how lizard populations will shift, thrive, survive or meet their demise, as climate change progressively shifts conditions in Tasmanian environments. Her work will also help us understand the role of different forecasting methods.
Both students are highly engaged in their projects, and delivered really terrific seminars which elicited lots of questions. Well done both — much exciting research lies ahead!
16 September 2016
Ph.D. scholarships, stipends and top-ups!
PhD projects now offered in the Dynamics of Eco-Evolutionary Patterns (D.E.E.P.) research group, based at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Tasmania. Project topics include the response of plant and animal populations to global change, dynamics of ecological communities, ecosystem modelling, conservation biology, threatened species management, and the impacts of land-use change on biodiversity.
The three major themes are: (i) using ‘patterns’ to understand the processes shaping ecosystem structure and dynamics; (ii) technology and biology: never the twain shall meet? and (iii) faunal habitat use and the impacts of disturbance (biodiversity and conservation). We are also open to the possibility of exploring other projects relating to conservation biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, and welcome students to express their own research ideas.
Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply. In addition to TGRS or APA scholarships, there will be substantial operational and logistical support, funded by a 5-year research grant to Prof. BW Brook (ARC Australian Laureate Fellow). An additional top-up award of $4,000 pa will also be considered for outstanding applicants.
Click on the hyperlinks above for more detailed information on the topics, and how to apply. See here for an overview of Projects and Opportunities for students in D.E.E.P.
3 July 2016
A Forest of Stars…
D.E.E.P. Ph.D. student, Jessie Buettel, has secured a competitive a Multidisciplinary Environment Research Group (MERG) grant for $2,000, to investigate: “A Forest of Stars: Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics as a Cosmological Analogue“.
Jess, along with Prof. Barry Brook (DEEP leader), and UTAS astrophysicists Dr. Andrew Cole and Prof. John Dickey, aims to foster a cross-disciplinary relationship between biological sciences and space science/physics. The work will look at whether analytical methods used in the study of galaxies and the cosmos can be successfully applied to ecological systems, such as forests. Both fields of research must deal with the question of how to ‘do science’ on a subject that is characteristically ‘ancient, moving in slow motion, inscrutably complex and infinitely variable in its manifestations’.
This exciting work begins immediately, and will report results by end of 2016!
5 June 2016
ARC Laureate Success
Our one and only Professor Barry Brook, is now an ARC Australian Laureate Professor (ALP)!
The highly prestigious five-year Australian Laureate Fellowships are awarded each year to the nation’s most outstanding research leaders. The award provides recipients with the opportunity (and funding) to develop their own institute to do ground-breaking research and build a lasting legacy. ALP Brook has been awarded over $2.8 million in funding from the Australian Research Council to do just that!
Professor Brook will investigate pathways for society to “decouple” environmental impacts from economic growth and human prosperity, to resolve regional and global trade-offs between human development and the competing need to conserve habitats, ecosystems and species.
6 May 2016
Hot off the press!
“Egress! How technophilia can reinforce biophilia to improve ecological restoration”
Buettel, J.C. & Brook, B.W. 2016
Restoration Ecology, doi: 10.1111/rec.12387
For effective and sustained ecological restoration, community support is essential. Yet, in modern society, artificial constructs and electronic technology now dominate most peoples’ interests (technophilia). This has led to a perceived growing disconnection between humans and nature. We ask how such technology might be harnessed as an agent of connection to the environment, rather than being seen as a driver of detachment. We use the example of a hugely popular mobile augmented reality smartphone game “Ingress” to show how gaming technology can excite people about nature, unlock their inherent biophilia, and highlight the value of ecological restoration in their everyday lives.
Key words: artificial, augmented reality, conservation, games, Ingress, nature, restoration, smartphone
3 June 2016