Indigneous students turn scientific researchers to tackle climate change and urbanisation
8 December 2011
students are preparing to become part of a scientific research team with
Earthwatch Australia to tackle the environmental challenges of climate change
This Saturday the first team will set out to various
sites across Melbourne to survey tiny microbats and look at the impact
urbanisation is having on the survival, reproduction and roosting habits. A
second Melbourne team will then follow in January 2012.
Little is known about
Melbourne’s microbats but researchers have found they play a vital role in the
ecosystem by keeping mosquitoes at bay, eating up to 600 mosquitoes an
Lisa Godinho, Research Scientist, Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne says, “The students will learn how to: find microbats using radio
transmitters, search for microbats using bat detectors, conduct habitat
assessments, set up harp traps and measure and record microbats captured.”
Hailing from Carnarvon and Mandurah in WA and Muswellbrook
in NSW, the 8 students will join 20 other students, split across two research
projects in December 2011 and January 2012.
Indigenous student Dianne Cowen from Mandurah, WA says,
"I'm really looking forward to learning more about the environment from a
real-life experience rather than from a text book, and being mentored by real
Indigenous student Jamie Parker, from Muswellbrook, NSW
says "Taking part in Student Challenge is an opportunity to meet new
people and be involved in real scientific research. I'm looking forward to this
new experience and learning new things."
On the same day, a second team will join scientist
Professor Michael Mahony in the ancient Gondwana rainforests of Northern NSW
researching the impact of the Chytrid fungus on Australia’s vanishing frogs; an
issue climate change is expected to exacerbate.
Scientist and Professor Michael Mahony, says “young
people often make the best frog catchers. Their eye sight is great, they are
really enthusiastic and will often go to great lengths to spot and catch
By day students will tackle a range of activities from
listening to frog calls to catching tadpoles and taking swabs to check for the
virus. By night students will walk through streams and river banks spotting the
eyes of frogs with their torches.
Richard Gilmore, Executive Director of Earthwatch said,
“we are excited about this new initiative to connect with the indigenous
community and engage the youth in scientific research.
“We would like to thank our funders, including the Sara
Halvedene Foundation and the Balnaves Foundation for supporting these
indigenous students and making this great opportunity come true.”
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