Cairns Post

06 November 2014

SCIENTISTS have found a novel way of ensuring infectious diseases do not cross Australia’s northern borders – with beer.

James Cook University researchers have discovered some of the main ingredients of beer – brewer’s yeast, sugar and water – can provide an effective method of baiting traps to ensnare potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes. Read more




ABC News

18 October 2013

North Queensland scientists have found boat engine noise is having a dramatic impact on the survival rates of young fish.

James Cook University Professor Mark McCormick says small boats are having a surprisingly large impact. Read more




Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers are working in collaboration with Girringun Aboriginal Rangers to increase current knowledge of the distribution, habitat associations and potential threats to inshore dolphins and dugong.

This collaboration has arisen due from a desire to record existing Indigenous knowledge of these threatened species and to integrate this with contemporary scientific knowledge.

The collaboration involves the team from Project 1.2: Marine wildlife management in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area training rangers in contemporary scientific survey methods for broad scale comparison across northern Australia where other Indigenous ranger groups are actively looking for inshore dolphins, dugongs and other marine wildlife using similar methods.

Girringun Aboriginal Rangers are now independently monitoring their sea country for inshore dolphins and dugongs. In the most recent survey, the rangers and JCU researcher Dr. Helen Penrose retraced established transects in Missionary Bay, Hinchinbrook Island.

Bandjin clan (Hinchinbrook Island) Traditional Owner, Russell Butler, says the language name of Missionary Bay is Muramalee, or ‘place of the rainbow’, and Hinchinbrook Island is called Munamudanamy. “Muramalee is a very important feeding habitat for dugong and dolphins since Cyclone Yasi in 2011. Herds of several hundred dugong were sighted during November 2013”, he said.

The survey recorded the location and behaviour of pods of humpback dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and individual sightings of dugongs and turtles. However, snubfin dolphins remained elusive. Interestingly, there have been very few snubfin dolphin sightings compared with past surveys and knowledge shared by Girringun Traditional Owners and rangers.

Data collected by the Girringun rangers during these regular, independent sea patrols has proved very important as re-capture data now exists via the photo identification of dorsal fins. Photo identification will continue to be used to investigate dolphin abundance and movements in Girringun sea country.

On a regional scale, it is hoped that the results of this collaboration will contribute to a national assessment of the status of the Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. On a local scale, the dugong and dolphin data feeds directly into Girringun sea country planning and management, including Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements.

JCU survey leader, Isabelle Beasley, acknowledges the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Girringun Traditional Owners, Girringun TUMRA Coordinator (Cheryl Grant) and the Girringun Aboriginal Rangers for their continued support of this project.

02 September 2013

Shocks caused by climate and seasonal change could be used to aid recovery of some of the world's badly-degraded coral reefs, an international team of scientists has proposed.

A new report by Australian and Swedish marine scientists in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment suggests that it may be possible to restore living coral cover to a badly-degraded reef system – though not easy. Read more

Australian Committee for IUCN Inc.


Hill, R. (2012) Bringing the community into World Heritage through biocultural diversity – issues and policy implications, in: Keeping the Outstanding Exceptional: The Future of World Heritage in Australia. Australian Committee for IUCN Inc.


Related to Project 12.1


Below are links to presentations given by project leaders at the NERP TE Hub Brisbane Seminar, held 5th September 2014 at EHP Building, 400 George St, Brisbane. The Seminar was attended by 65 Queensland Government Agency and non-government agency staff. The event aimed to inform Queensland Government agency staff and non-government stakeholders of the Hub research outputs, tools and other potential applications for policy, planning and management applicability.


Event Program

Introduction to the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub
Dr Peter Doherty, Science Leader, NERP TE Hub

Dugongs, turtles and coastal dolphins in the GBR and Torres Strait: perceptions and reality
Prof Helene Marsh, JCU

Socio-economic value of GBR and Wet Tropics goods and services
Prof Natalie Stoeckl, JCU

Decision support systems for GBR managers
Dr Cathy Dichmont, CSIRO

Biosecurity and improved disease detection approaches in the Torres Strait
Assoc Prof Sue Laurance, JCU

Movements and habitat use by marine apex predators
Prof Colin Simpfendorfer, JCU

Water quality of the GBR and Torres Strait: Cumulative impacts on bethnic biodiversity
Dr Britta Schaffelke, AIMS

Maximising resilience of Wet Tropics biodiversity
Prof Steve Williams, JCU

Rainforest refugia and hotspots of plant genetic diversity
Prof Darren Crayn, ATH / JCU

Threats to rainforest health and monitoring of key species
Dr David Westcott, CSIRO

Fire and rainforests
Dr Dan Metcalfe, CSIRO

Rainforest restoration and revegetation
Dr Carla Catterall, GU & Dr Luke Shoo, UQ
NERP Project 12.2 Results Factsheet
MTSRF Rainforest restoration: approaches, costs and biodiversity outcomes Factsheet



Local and global changes are creating new pressures in remote Torres Strait island communities, including substantial increase in the cost of living. The changes are primarily associated with climate change, resource development in Papua New Guinea and disease and biosecurity threats. There is, consequently, strong interest among Torres Strait communities in increasing their resilience so that they can not only cope with the full range of interacting changes but proactively respond to new opportunities that change creates, such as sustainable economic development.

CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers from Project 11.1 ‘Building Resilient Communities for Torres Strait Futures’ joined forces with James Cook University, Torres Strait Regional Authority, Torres Strait Islands Regional Council and other research users to establish a participatory strategic planning and social learning approach to help a number of Torres Strait communities understand and enhance their resilience and adaptation skills to tackle likely future scenarios.

The project involves envisioning the future, valuing and estimating impacts on ecosystem services, identifying steps that communities can take to reach their desired visions for the future, and developing ‘no regrets’ strategies that do not undermine existing sources of community resilience or the ecosystem services on which they depend.

Four workshops have been completed to date: a regional-level stakeholder workshop in Cairns in 2012, and community workshops on Masig (July 2013), Erub (August 2013) and Mabuiag (January 2014).

At each workshop, four alternative scenarios were developed and illustrated by participants along with sets of adaptation strategies that were considered robust regardless of which scenario actually unfolds. Scenarios were designed around two key drivers of change considered most important by participants.

Though developed independently at each workshop, these drivers were invariably defined as: 1) strength of Torres Strait Island or community culture (strong vs. weak) and 2) the nature of socio-economic development at national and global scales (focused narrowly on economic growth vs. focused on sustainability and ‘green’ growth).

In May 2014, the team will return to Masig to conduct a follow-up workshop focused on the community’s resilience to more specific pressures and will work through strategies to respond to unexpected shocks the future may bring. An integration workshop will be held in July that will bring together representatives from all the workshops held to date to cross-check the feasibility of strategies identified in the respective workshops, explore innovative ways to implement these strategies (i.e. aquaculture, horticulture, ecotourism), and review existing programs in the Torres Strait to support these strategies.

In its last phase, the project will focus on training community facilitators to run scenario workshops and showcasing the project through visual products. This project’s expected outcomes for communities and regional stakeholders include information to support adaptation decisions, increased capacity to adapt and avoid maladaptive development trajectories, and support for community adaptation and resilience planning in the Torres Strait

Contact Dr. Erin Bohensky ( for more information.




02 June 2013

Logistics Magazine reported that Greenpeace said the Federal Government should stop the approval process for the dredging of Abbot Point Coal terminal until more scientific research was conducted.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said a Senate hearing that yet to be released research shows ocean currents are moving dredge spoil further than indicated by industry modelling. Read more




Scientific American

December 12 2014

Few reptiles can breathe underwater. Australia is home to one of the exceptions, the white-throated snapping turtle (Elseya albagula), which can extract oxygen from water through its backside via a process called cloacal respiration. This unusual technique, shared by a handful of other turtle and fish species, gave the turtles an evolutionary advantage for millennia, allowing them to hide from predators underwater for days at a time. Read more



The Conversation

24 May 2013

Earlier this month, Australia’s Big Four banks copped a serve over their support of the coal and gas extraction industries, focusing attention on the ways large banks' investment decisions can put the future of the Great Barrier Reef at risk. Read more