CDU researchers awarded close to $1 million 


Researchers at Charles Darwin University have been awarded close to $1 million to monitor water quality in Darwin Harbour, control feral animals in Northern Australia and measure the effectiveness of Indigenous land management.

The three research projects are being supported by a $972,000 investment under the ARC Linkage Projects scheme. It means that CDU achieved a 100 per cent success rate with its applications for part of almost $59 million being awarded to Australian universities in Australian Research Council Linkage Projects to start this month.

The NT projects announced by Science and Research Minister Senator Chris Evans include the impacts of sewage on water quality, integrating measures of Indigenous land management effectiveness and managing feral animal populations.

CDU's Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) Professor Stephen Garnett, has been awarded just under $550,000 for his research in “Integrating measures of Indigenous land management effectiveness”.

“Land management is the fastest growing Indigenous employment sector in Australia, yet methods for assessing its effectiveness are poorly developed,” Professor Garnett said. “This project will work with Indigenous land managers and their major environmental service delivery partners to develop and agree on measures of land management effectiveness to meet multiple objectives.”

RIEL Coastal and Marine Ecology and Management theme leader, Professor Karen Gibb has been awarded more than $250,000 for her research into the “Microbiology of a tropical creek impacted by sewage effluent: novel assessment using N-cycle functional markers and changes in community composition”.

“Although most of Darwin Harbour has good water quality, there is much concern about local 'hot spots' where sewage has degraded ecosystem processes and values,” Professor Gibb said. “As no bio-indicators of tropical marine water and sediment quality are known, the project will identify functional markers and microbial indicators of stress for integrated environmental monitoring.”

RIEL’s Professor Michael Lawes has been awarded more than $220,000 for his research into creating “A multispecies approach to managing feral animals in tropical savanna landscapes”.

“Controlling invasive species is important for maintaining healthy landscapes,” Professor Lawes said. “Often, multiple invasive species occupy a landscape and simultaneous management of them is required. Our innovative management tool will allow land managers to develop and implement control strategies for environmentally invasive species in Northern Australia and globally.”

The researchers have partnered with industries, communities and governments as part of the investment provided through the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme in 2012.

Partner organisations providing funding for the CDU projects include Power and Water Corporation, INPEX Browse Ltd, NT Department of Business and Employment, Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport, Smyth and Bahrdt Consultants, The Nature Conservancy Australia Trust, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and Kakadu National Park.