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  • Writer's pictureDEEP

Going DEEPer Into Research 2019

Last week members of the DEEP group gathered for the third annual ‘Going DEEPer into research conference’. DEEP covers a broad range of research topics, and the conference provides an opportunity for the growing number of group members to share their progress and receive feedback. The conference is also a means of welcoming newcomers and opening communication channels, essential for such a dynamic group.

Held over two days, the group presented on past, contemporary and future topics, from local conservation concerns to global-scale issues. DEEP research members, also a part of the Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), shared their progress on uncovering faunal communities of the past, sharing their research on owl pellets, and revealing the construction of a database of terrestrial vertebrate zooarchaeological records from Australia.

Fast-forward to the Anthropocene, others within our research group are tackling contemporary big picture issues such as: How is human food demand likely to change in the future and what implications does this have for biodiversity? How effective are reserve systems at conserving biodiversity inside and adjacent to protected areas? What role might rewilding play in future conservation efforts? How can we maximise the restorative value of urban green spaces?

Closer to home, group members reported on the status and prospects of highly threatened species, including pollinators, woodland birds, eastern quolls, sea birds, snow skinks and the mountain pygmy-possum. While important for conservation of individual species, these projects also have international significance, particularly for understanding patterns of extinction risk under climate change.

Another priority of the DEEP group is to develop and improve ecological modelling methods. In this realm, we learned about the mechanics of predator escape, the use of machine learning/deep learning models to recognise species in camera trap images and non-invasive wildlife survey techniques. We also heard from one of our visiting researchers, Linus Blomqvist from the Break Through Institute, who has been working on an innovative method for predicting human population growth. Another visiting researcher, Director of Energy at the Break Through Institute, Jessica Lovering presented on the geographic shift in nuclear deployment and patents over the last 50 years and discussed corresponding challenges and opportunities for developing new nuclear technology to meet today’s environmental and economic needs. Needless to say, this topic stimulated the inquisitive minds of the DEEP group.

Visiting researchers, Linus Blomqvist and Jessica Lovering

Each year we like to hear from collaborators outside the DEEP group to ensure our goals align with the values of external stakeholders. This year our guest speaker, Jason Whitehead discussed the aims and undertakings of Highland Conservation Pty Ltd, which manages two properties for education, cultural and environmental conservation. In late 2018, several DEEP and CABAH members visited the Highland Conservation property, Cockatoo Hills, to connect with Aboriginal students from Rosny College during a three-day camp. Following a successful experience, we look forward future collaboration with Jason and the Rosny College team.

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