You are here

WA marine science nets $5m in ARC funding

29 November 2016

 

 

Western Australian marine science has attracted more than $5 million in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) in its latest round of Discovery and Linkage grants and Early Career Researcher Awards.

Under the Discovery Projects Scheme for 2017 a total of $3,131,276 was awarded to eight marine science related research projects investigating a diverse range of subjects including:

  • predicting the ocean carbon dioxide sink’s long-term capacity;
  • improved uderstanding of reproduction in mussels, a commercially important marine species;
  • understanding suction anchors in calcareous seabeds in offshroe australia for future floating oil and gas developments;
  • predicting sediment transport, which controls the health and productivity of marine ecosystems; and
  • understanding the mechanisms behind declines in kelp forests due to climate.

Three marine science related projects in WA that involve collaboration with partner organisations have been awarded $1,172,169 under the ARC Linkage Projects scheme. They involve:

  • developing new environmental DNA-based methods of managing human impact on marine resources;
  • techniques for monitoring Australia’s coastline using drone-mounted applications in remote environments; and
  • exploring seed-based restoration of seagrasses.

Dr Ana Martins Sequeira from The University of Western Australia and Dr Oscar Serrano Gras from Edith Cowan University received Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards for their work into: movement patterns of marine megafauna such as sharks, whales and turtles; and building a history of coastal ecosystems.

WAMSI geomorphology project researcher Dr Mick O’Leary from Curtin University is also involved in the The Flinders University of South Australia project which aims to identify fauna in rock art in the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area, in the Northern Territory, that will inform debates on megafauna extinctions, climate, and environmental change in Australia.        

Western Australian Marine Science Institution CEO Patrick Seares said the funding was good news and in line with the broadly accepted need to better understand WA’s marine environment in order to manage its future. He also acknowledged the leading role WA marine research is playing in contributing to future sustainable development important for both the state and the nation.

For more information on the 2017 funding round, visit the ARC website.

 

Summary of successful WA Marine Research Projects

Funded Projects - Discovery Projects 2017 round 1
 

The Australian Government has announced 630 new research grants under the Discovery Projects scheme for 2017.

A total of $234.7 million has been awarded in this 2017 round. For full outcome data view the Funding Announcements web page.

Investigator(s)

Project Summary

Administering Organisation

Total Project Funding

Project Duration in years

Dr Julie Trotter The project aims to predict the ocean carbon dioxide sink’s long-term capacity and future trajectories of global warming and increasing carbon dioxide. This project will use geochemical proxies encoded in the skeletons of deep-sea corals in the Perth Canyon, Tasman seas, and Antarctica, in the heart of the ocean-climate system, to reveal continuous long-term records of environmental change at annual-decadal resolution for our recent past (hundreds to thousands of years) and the Last Glacial Maximum. These records are expected to provide a more accurate understanding of Earth’s long-term responses to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. The University of Western Australia $776,000 4

Associate Professor Jonathan Evans; Dr Xavier Conlan; Dr Winn Kennington

This project aims to understand how eggs attract and select sperm, and how the environment influences these interactions. Differential sperm chemotaxis, a form of mate choice involving chemical signalling between eggs and sperm, has only been described in mussels, but may be a widespread form of gamete-level sexual selection. The project will study the biochemical and molecular basis of differential sperm chemotaxis in mussels, and the stability of gamete-level interactions under different environmental conditions. Improved fundamental knowledge of reproduction in a commercially important marine species may yield future commercial benefits for Australia’s marine food production sector

The University of Western Australia

$453,500

3

Dr Clelia Gasparini; Associate Professor Simone Immler This project aims to test the causes, consequences and mechanisms of female reproductive fluids in modulating fertilisation bias in a model vertebrate species, the zebrafish. Female reproductive fluids (the fluid surrounding eggs) may moderate sperm selection by females, thus facilitating mate choice at the gamete level. This project will study interactions involving sperm and female reproductive fluid in an evolutionary framework. The intended outcome is increased knowledge of these processes, and better understanding of how non-gamete factors affect fertility, which could benefit fields as diverse as human fertility and aquaculture. The University of Western Australia $510,500 4

Professor Anas Ghadouani; Associate Professor Matthew Hipsey; Associate Professor Matthew Linden; Dr Frederik Hammes; Professor W Mitch; Professor Dr Michele Prevost

This project aims to validate a framework for the management of water pollution. As the world population increases, maintaining robust, cost-effective and environmentally safe water resources is important. This project will investigate environmental controls of toxin occurrence in urban and wastewater systems. The project is expected to mitigate deadly cyanotoxins, which threaten the safety of water resources, while a numerical ecological model will tackle water pollution issues in natural and engineered water systems.

The University of Western Australia

$372,500 3
Associate Professor Muhammad Hossain; Professor Yuxia Hu This project aims to understand suction caisson anchors in ‘problematic’ calcareous seabeds prevalent in offshore Australia. Suction caissons anchor floating facilities for future deep water oil and gas developments. Their application in calcareous seabeds raises significant challenges due to their complex geotechnical properties. This project will design secure anchoring systems for pushing floating platforms past the current 340 metre water depth limitation, potentially unlocking Australia’s inaccessible gas reserves and creating international leadership in offshore geotechnics and engineering. The University of Western Australia $239,000 3
Professor Ryan Lowe; Dr Marco Ghisalberti; Professor Heidi Nepf; Professor Matthew Reidenbach This project aims to understand and predict the mobilisation of sediment, and the rates and modes of sediment transport. Sediment dynamics control the health and productivity of some of the world’s most valuable marine ecosystems, including seagrass meadows and coral reefs. However, the theory and predictive models needed to quantitatively understand sediment transport over the large bottom roughness in these ecosystems has proven elusive. This project will integrate comprehensive laboratory and field programmes to develop predictive models of these sediment dynamics, which should help better understand, manage and protect these critical ecosystems and their services. The University of Western Australia $285,000 3
Associate Professor Joseph Tomkins This project aims to study the evolution of anisogamy, which defines males and females by the size of their gametes – females’ large eggs and males’ small sperm. Most multicellular organisms have different sized gametes, and this size difference has affected the evolution of life on the planet. Theoretical arguments about why two sexes are ubiquitous have not been tested empirically, mainly because of technical difficulties in experimentally generating different sized gametes. This project will use algae and cell sorting technology to test this. The expected outcome is a greater understanding of how and why the sexes evolved, as well as developing biofuel production methods by paving the way for improvements in algal productivity. The University of Western Australia $400,000 3
Associate Professor Thomas Wernberg; Dr Adriana Verges; Professor Peter Steinberg Global threats to kelp forests from heatwaves, herbivores and diseases. This project aims to understand the mechanisms behind climate-mediated declines in kelp. Ocean warming causes the collapse of valuable temperate kelp forests globally and on both sides of Australia, but it is unknown if this is because of direct physiological effects from temperature or the indirect effects of changes in species interactions. This project will compare the direct effects of marine heatwaves to the indirect effects of range-shifting tropical herbivores and pathogens for the kelp forests of the Great Southern Reef, one of Australia’s largest coastal ecosystems. This project will generate knowledge underpinning adaptation strategies for these critical ecosystems, and could enhance the capacity to respond to degradation of these natural assets. The University of Western Australia $385,000 3
 
Funded Projects - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award 2017 round 1

 

The Australian Government has announced 200 new research grants under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme for 2017.

A total of $71.7 million has been awarded in this 2017 round. For full outcome data view the Funding Announcements web page.

Fellow

Project Summary

Administering Organisation

Total Project Funding

Project Duration in years

Dr Ana Martins Sequeira

This project aims to apply analyses from big data approaches to reveal movement patterns at unprecedented scales. Environmental legislation dictates that industries (e.g. oil and gas) reduce their effect on marine megafauna such as sharks, whales, or turtles. However, the extent of their effect is unknown, due to limited understanding of these animals’ movements. With large satellite tracking datasets now available, the challenge is to develop a synthetic analytical approach to identify scaling laws and to understand global drivers of marine megafauna movement. Findings are expected to improve the ability to sustainably exploit marine resources while conserving biodiversity.

The University of Western Australia

$372,000

3

Dr Oscar Serrano Gras

This project aims to understand how humans and nature affect coastal ecosystems. Globally, billions of dollars are spent on understanding ecosystem services and responses to human and natural pressures, but contemporary datasets’ short time-span makes them inadequate, since ecosystems change at multiple spatial and temporal scales. This project will use seagrass archives to reconstruct the history of coastal ecosystems over millennia, identifying baseline conditions, the time-course of ecological change, cycles and thresholds of ecosystem dynamics driven by human and natural forces, and determining their role as biogeochemical sinks. Intended outcomes are to manage ecological change and remove constraints on sustainable coastal development.

Edith Cowan University

$372,000

3

 

 
Funded Projects - Linkage Projects 2016 round

 

The Australian Government has announced 231 new research grants under the Linkage Projects scheme for 2016.

A total of $81.2 million has been awarded in this 2016 round. For full outcome data view the Funding Announcements web page.

 

Investigator(s)

Project Summary

Partner Organisations

Administering Organisation

Total Project Funding

Project Duration in years

Professor Michael Bunce; Professor Euan Harvey; Dr Michael Stat; Dr Joseph DiBattista; Dr Stephen Newman; Professor Marcus Gilbert

This project aims to develop new environmental DNA (eDNA)-based methods of managing humanity’s impact on valuable marine resources. eDNA preserved in seawater provides a lens to study and monitor marine biota and ecosystems. This project will work with fisheries managers and the environmental consulting sector, and focus on sites in the Kimberley, Cocos-Keeling Islands, Fremantle and Deep-sea oil/gas sites to demonstrate the value of eDNA methods in best-practice monitoring. A multi-proxy toolkit (including eDNA) that can audit and baseline marine biota could make balancing conservation and sustainable exploitation achievable. Anticipated outcomes are improved management and monitoring of fisheries, ports and offshore oil/gas sites.

BMT OCEANICA PTY LTD; FISHERIES DEPARTMENT OF WA

Curtin University of Technology

$292,169

3

Professor Lorenzo Faraone; Dr Buddhika Silva; Associate Professor Jarek Antoszewski; Dr Mariusz Martyniuk; Associate Professor Adrian Keating; Professor John Dell; Dr Sanchitha Fernando; Dr Adam Dickson

This project aims to investigate techniques and materials for building optical spectrometers based on micromachines, usable in portable ground-based and drone-mounted applications in remote environments. Optical spectroscopy is now an accepted technique for materials detection and analysis. The advent of low-cost drone aircraft makes the potential applications of spectroscopy in an imaging form immense. The project expects the resulting low-cost and highly portable technology will transform Australian industry, including securing Australia’s food supply by improving farming practices, aiding mineral exploration, and enhancing capabilities for monitoring Australia’s coastline.

PANORAMA SYNERGY LTD

The University of Western Australia

$510,000

3

Professor Gary Kendrick; Professor Kingsley Dixon; Professor Robert Orth

This project aims to explore a demographic approach for seed-based restoration of seagrasses. Sustainable strategies are needed to restore the structure and function of seagrass ecosystems. Although seed-based restoration has been successfully used for decades in terrestrial ecosystems, failures in seagrass restoration are common because the science of seed-based restoration is grossly underdeveloped, and transitions from dispersed seed, seedling, recruiting juvenile to reproductive adult in seagrasses are poorly understood. Recent demographic approaches in terrestrial vegetation restoration identify transitions most limiting to recruitment and successful establishment. Anticipated outcomes are successful seed-based restoration of seagrasses.

VIRGINIA INSTITUTE OF MARINE SCIENCE; SHARK BAY RESOURCES PTY LTD; BMT OCEANICA PTY LTD; ROTTNEST ISLAND AUTHORITY

The University of Western Australia

$370,000

3