Institute for Future Environments the university for the real world

Protecting biological diversity

21st May 2020

The 2020 United Nation’s International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May serves to remind us that humankind is dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our health, water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy.

On this day, we're highlighting just a few of the QUT Centre for the Environment projects helping to safeguard biological diversity locally and globally, while creating real-world impact through the use of innovative technologies in partnership with industry, government and community.

Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF) 

QUT researchers are working on a multi-institute initiative building the technology necessary to help preserve, model and monitor the harsh Antarctic environment and its wildlife. 

Institute for Future Environments Executive Director Professor Kerrie Wilson said QUT will help provide practical solutions to the complex environmental challenges faced in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

“Our team of researchers is working towards developing the technology, specifically designed to operate in the severe Antarctic landscape and using that data to provide evidence-based analysis to make informed decisions,” Professor Wilson said.

Learn more about this project here

Priority Threat Management 

Researchers within the Centre for the Environment in partnership with CSIRO are developing a process that explores the co-benefits to industry and community of preserving biological diversity in different ecological settings. 

Employing expert elicitation and participatory science, these projects highlight the need for a collaborative and consultative approach in achieving real-world impact in conservation efforts. 

Explore these recently published papers that use the priority threat management process.  

Flying high to find koalas

Led by Associate Professor Grant Hamilton, QUT researchers are applying their innovative method for detecting koalas using drones and infrared imaging in a collaborative project to identify wildlife populations in bushfire affected areas.

“We know that the devastating bushfires have had a terrible impact on wildlife, but in order to help protect those which survived the terrible disaster we first need to identify the populations of animals that are still in fire-affected areas,” Associate Professor Hamilton said.

Learn more about this project here

Ears all round: world’s first acoustic observatory

Wild and remote areas around Australia are part of the Australian Acoustic Observatory, the world’s first ‘Google maps for sound’ – hundreds of solar-powered sensors that continuously record the sounds of wildlife for five years.

Professor Paul Roe is collaborating with James Cook University, University of Queensland, the University of New England and Charles Sturt University to develop the observatory, which will detect ecological events that may otherwise go unobserved due to weather and access issues.  

“The Acoustic Observatory will reveal these events and show us what is happening to the environment; how the environment is changing in response to climate change, land use change and the arrival of feral species,” Professor Roe said. 

Read more about this project here

Mathematical ecology

QUT researchers from the Centre for the Environment, Dr Kate Helmstedt, Dr Matthew Adams and Associate Professor Michael Bode are using applied mathematics to better understand, model and manage ecosystems and their connections with the human communities who depend on them. A combination of maths and ecology allows researchers to tackle larger, more complex and more uncertain environmental challenges.

Centre Program co-leader Associate Professor Michael Bode was recently awarded the Australian Academy of Science 2020 Fenner Medal for this work, which helps to conserve threatened ecosystems through mathematics, overturning established beliefs about conservation.

To learn more about the environmental and conservation research being undertaken by QUT visit the Centre for the Environment here

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