Two early-career researchers have each been awarded a 2022 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship for their highly interdisciplinary research work to protect the environment. Ms Bridget Campbell is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University and Dr Brock Bergseth is a research fellow at James Cook University.
Ms Campbell’s project aims to bridge the gap between Western scientific and Yolŋu Indigenous knowledge systems of the Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area in north-east Arnhem Land. She says the detailed ecological knowledge of Indigenous Australians could help protect Australia’s biodiversity.
Her project, ‘Warrakan ganma: Bridging Western and Indigenous science to safeguard biocultural diversity’, uses novel scientific data and detailed Indigenous knowledge to study declining fauna and strengthen cultural ecosystem services.
Combining genetics, Indigenous knowledge, field ecology, anthropology and spatial science, she aims to characterise and safeguard biological and cultural diversity.
“There is a current paucity of projects adopting biocultural conservation approaches,” she said in her award submission.
“[This is] despite their potential to advance Australia’s national and international [conservation] commitments.”
Dr Bergseth will investigate whether behavioural interventions can reduce illegal fishing in Marine Protected Areas in Australia and neighbouring countries.
Dr Bergseth’s project is titled ‘Bolstering conservation outcomes: understanding social and ecological effects of illegal fishing behavioural interventions’.
It will look at how behavioural interventions can be used to increase fisheries compliance, voluntary reporting of observed illegal fishing, and the resulting ecological benefits.
“Using behavioural interventions to influence compliance by fishers [and] other types of resource users is a novel research frontier,” he said in his award submission.
“These interventions are an alternative to traditional ‘command and control’ efforts that coerce rather than encourage compliance.”
Four researchers were also highly commended for their 2022 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award applications:
The Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award provides up to $20,000 for early-career researchers working on interdisciplinary projects to further the conservation of Australia’s flora and fauna, the ecologically sustainable use of resources, and the protection of the environment and ecosystem services.
The award is named in honour of Academy Fellow, the late Dr Maxwell Frank Cooper Day AO FAA, who spent a lifetime championing entomology, conservation and forestry, as well as helping other scientists.
© 2022 Australian Academy of Science