Three early-career researchers have been awarded funding for ecology projects in 2021 thanks to the Australian Academy of Science’s Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals.
The fund provides grants to support emerging researchers with ecology projects that have tangible conservation outcomes for endangered native vertebrates.
The 2021 recipients are:
From detecting creatures in grasslands and oceans to improving turtle incubation and investigating sea snakes, all three projects promise to provide valuable insights for conserving our native vertebrates.
Dr Crowe-Riddell will use the funding to research critically endangered species of Western Australian sea snakes. By analysing environmental DNA and tissue samples, she’ll investigate the population densities and distributions of two similar-looking (cryptic) sea snake species in the Exmouth area.
This data will be useful for assessing how best to protect sea snake populations and for managing environmental impact studies for oil and gas exploration or infrastructure developments proposed in the area.
Ms Dawlings’ project also involves detecting biodiversity and population numbers, but is focused on small mammals and birds in eastern Australian native grasslands. Dawlings’ project will use thermal scanners to detect the presence of endotherms (heat-emitting animals) such as the plains-wanderer and fat-tailed dunnart.
The use of this more efficient and effective thermal scanning method is likely to improve long-term monitoring projects and assist in conserving small grassland fauna.
Ms Simms received funding for a project that will investigate the conditions of river turtle egg incubation to find out how young in these vulnerable species can get the best start in life.
The findings will have direct impacts on management of captive incubation programs for endangered turtle species.
The Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals was established in 2000 with Dr Margaret Middleton, who donated generously to this fund across her lifetime. Dr Middleton was a long-time supporter of the Academy and early-career scientists, with the fund supporting almost 90 projects to date.
Applications for the 2022 awards will open in early 2021.
© 2021 Australian Academy of Science