Emerging leaders awarded environmental research scholarships

Student presenting to room in front of two people looking on

Five students have been awarded Harry Butler Institute Scholarships as part of a program that supports projects championing the co-existence of community, business and biodiversity.

The Honours Scholarships are a legacy to Harry Butler, an Australian naturalist and environmental consultant who worked extensively with industry partners in the north west to preserve biodiversity in areas subject to commercial development. 

The winners of this year’s Harry Butler Institute Scholarships, Brooke Lloyd, Nicole Maher, Rachel Newsome, Jennifer Kelly and Rubie Evans-Powell were awarded at a ceremony this week.

“Harry Butler was an exceptional educator and valued any opportunity to mentor and encourage learning – this program is an extension of this desire,” said Peter Landman, Chevron Chair of Biosecurity and Environment at Murdoch University.

It brings academia and industry together to find solutions that help promote the co-existence of business and biodiversity – something the world needs right now.”

The scholarships provide both financial support and the opportunity to work directly with industry partners like Chevron, who are a key supporter of the Institute.
“The recipients of these scholarships often go on to take up graduate positions with industry, so having some understanding and some appreciation of the challenges industry faces really helps.”

The fill list of winners, with project overviews, is below.

Brooke Lloyd 

The detectability of dolphins and turtles within unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV) survey imagery

Brooke’s thesis is focusing on the comparisons of two platforms, an unoccupied UAV and a occupied aircraft in the detection of dolphins and turtles. While also analysing how environmental conditions affect sightings rates. Another aspect of this thesis is looking at an array of images from different locations in WA, with different altitudes or image ground sampling distances alongside different environmental conditions. To see how these covariates affect species identification in UAV images.

Nicole Maher 

Provenance effects of Banksia attenuata: Implications for Restoration Seed Sourcing Under Climate Change

Nicole’s project is investigating whether banksia attenuata displays a provenance effect (that is, a variation in response shown by different populations) in terms of germination and establishment to different climatic conditions. The overarching aim of this research is to assess whether moving away from the traditional local provenance seed sourcing approach in restoration to a climate-based approach will be beneficial for WA’s native plant species. 

Rachel Newsome 

Environmental determinants for the repeatability of behaviour in free-ranging elasmobranchs

Rachel’s project looks at how repeatability of behaviour exhibits itself in a field environment, and how it may vary with changes to surrounding environmental conditions. To date, no field studies have focused on the environmental conditions that determine how repeatability of behaviour is exhibited. This project uses biotelemetry tag derived acceleration data to assess environmental factors influencing the repeatability of behaviour in two euryhaline free-ranging elasmobranchs with differing life histories; the largetooth sawfish and bull shark in the Fitzroy River. 

Jennifer Kelly 

Ectoparasite Identification and Potential Associated Disease Risk of Reintroduced Native Species on Dirk Hartog Island

Jennifer’s project will focus on three species of threatened native fauna being reintroduced to their once native habitat of Dirk Hartog Island from neighbouring Bernier and Dorre islands. As of 2020, populations of the rufous hare-wallaby, banded hare-wallaby, and Shark Bay bandicoot have been translocated onto Dirk Hartog Island as part to the 'Return to 1616' initiative to restore the island to its original state before Dutch settlers arrived in 1616. The research will explore the potential disease risk of these wildlife.

Rubie Evans-Powell 

Importance of big, old, fat, fecund, female fish in sustaining the West Australian dhufish population

Rubie’s research looks at the importance of big, old, fat, fecund, female fish (BOFFFFs) to the sustainability of stocks of the West Australian dhufish. This is among the most commercially and recreationally valuable fish species and has experience high commercial and recreational fishing pressure. The aim of this research is to quantify the extent to which BOFFFFs contribute to population egg production of dhufish in the West Coast Bioregion. 

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Posted on:

15 Dec 2021



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