Kangaroo Island’s phases of connection and disconnection with the mainland make it of special interest to palaeontologists, and a Flinders University project that will track the resulting effects on the island’s fauna and flora has received funding from the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants.
The project, led by Dr Gavin Prideaux (pictured), is one of 10 Flinders projects to receive funding worth $1.9 million from the ARC.
Dr Prideaux said that analysis of the patterns of extinction, changes in the adaptations and genetic diversity of animal species, and the composition of plant communities deduced from fossil pollen will improve the ability to predict the effects of long-term habitat fragmentation.
“Our project will be unique because its focus is the only land-bridge island on Earth known to have highly complete vertebrate, vegetative and associated environmental records spanning not only the last 9,000 years of disconnection, but most of the Late Quaternary period (the last 125,000 years),” Dr Prideaux said.
“Combined, Kangaroo Island’s history and rich fossil record offer insights into the long-term impacts of environmental change on native animal and plant populations.”
Biologist Professor Mike Bull has continued an extraordinary record of funding success by securing one of the University’s three Linkage grants, which are made to collaborative programs with industry. Professor Bull’s project received $510,000 to continue research into the biological knowledge of the pygmy bluetongue lizard, making vital contributions to programs dedicated to the species’ conservation.
Flinders Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor David Day said the projects to win funding came from all four of the University’s faculties, representing a wide range of the University’s research endeavours.
“It is also particularly pleasing to see numerous early career researchers among the teams of applicants,” Professor Day said.
Among the seven Discovery grants is a project led by Professor Fran Baum that will look at applying recommendations by the World Health Organisation on the social and economic factors affecting health, and how governments can shape policy and implementation processes in Australia to improve public health.
Other projects are an examination of the mechanisms of movement in the digestive tract; a study of delayed sleep phase disorder; and an analysis of the interaction between Australia’s justice system and its security organisations.
The other Linkage grants comprise a study of comparative study of food trust – public confidence in the food supply – in Australia and the UK, and a history of computer games and their role in familiarising the public with new technology.