I’m happy to say I had a double-dose of ARC success this round. First, I’ve been awarded an ARC Discovery Early Researcher Award (DECRA), starting next year. My project for the DECRA will take me to the heart of the western desert where I will work with collaborators (Prof Rebecca Bird and Assoc Prof Doug Bird [Penn State], Prof Chris Dickman [Sydney Uni] and Dr Euan Ritchie [Deakin]) to examine the potential for Indigenous land management to restore ecosystems. This research is also being funded by the Hermon Slade Foundation and the Ecological Society of Australia is covering the costs of my travel to the U.S to work with collaborators at Penn State as part of the ESA Wiley Next Gen Award.
Can Indigenous land management forestall an extinction crisis? This project aims to test the theory that a lack of Indigenous land management precipitated the collapse of Australia’s mammal fauna. Current rates of species extinction exceed background rates by 100-1000 times, because of changes to ecosystems by humans. Paradoxically, Australia’s most pressing extinction crisis could be due to too little human disturbance. This project will test Indigenous land management’s capacity to forestall further mammal declines and restore degraded ecosystems, and enhance Indigenous livelihoods. Anticipated outcomes include on-ground principles for integrating Indigenous knowledge into biodiversity conservation, and transformative insights on the interdependence of humans and their environment.
Second, I was named on a successful Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant along with fellow CSU researchers Dave Watson and Gary Luck. This LIEF (led by Paul Roe, QUT) is really exciting, aiming to set up a network of acoustic recorders across the country that will provide 24/7 surveillance of soundscapes across 450 sites. The data that will be generated will be a world-first and offer unprecedented insights into change across Australia’s ecosystems.
Australian Acoustic Observatory: A network to monitor biodiversity. This project aims to create a terrestrial acoustic sensor network comprising 450 listening stations across Australia. Acoustic sensing transforms environmental science by recording vocal species 24/7, providing spatial and temporal data for ecosystem monitoring and research. Australia has leading research expertise in this emerging field, which is relevant to its fragile and mega-diverse environment. This project is expected to enable and develop continental scale environmental monitoring, and the data generated will be made freely available to all online, enabling new science in understanding ecosystems, long-term environmental change, data visualisation and acoustic science.