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Research funded under Governor's Environment Scholarships in 2015

03 March 2015

Three University of Tasmania (UTAS) students who will be undertaking Honours research into acid mine rehabilitation, pest fish eradication and land use threats to platypus in Tasmania, were awarded a Governor’s Environment Scholarship in 2015.

The awards were presented to Prudence Hamill, Brendan Adair and Tamika Lunn at Government House on Monday 2 March 2015 by the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, who is patron of these prestigious scholarships, of which the EPA is a sponsor.

Prudence Hamill who is a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours) candidate at UTAS, was awarded the Governor’s Environment Scholarship to investigate the remediation of historic mining activities at the Scotia Open Pit Mine site, North East Tasmania. Prudence said that no rehabilitation works had been completed at the site since the mine’s closure in 2009.

“My Honours project will investigate the cause of the low pH in the water from the mine and tailings, as well as the most efficient means of the site’s decontamination,” Prudence said.

“Final remediation of the site will depend on whether the water is predominantly from underground sources that already have a very low pH and high levels of dissolved metals, or runoff from terrestrial sources that are relatively uncontaminated,” said Prudence.

Brendan Adair is a BApplied Science (Marine Environment) (Hoours) candidate at UTAS. Brendan was awarded the Governor’s Environment Scholarship for his Honours project, which will explore new methods of pest fish control looking at pheromone communication in European carp in Lake Sorell, Tasmania. Brendan explained that carp are a highly destructive invasive freshwater pest in Tasmania; they were discovered in Lake Sorell in 1995 and have been the focus of a 20 year eradication program by the Inland Fisheries Service.

“My Honours project will investigate the potential to hijack pheromone communication pathways to eradicate the Lake Sorell carp,” Brendan said.

“I’ll be investigating the attraction strength of hormones given off by male fish, and measuring the physiological and genetic differences between fish that are attracted and fish that are not,” said Brendan.

Tamika Lunn, who is Bachelor of Science (Honours) candidate at UTAS, was awarded a Governor’s Environment Scholarship for her Honours project which will look at the impact of land use change on the distribution and health of platypus. Tamika explained that there is now increasing concern about the survival of this species due to escalating environmental degradation, and yet very few studies have been conducted on the impact of habitat modification on the platypus, and little information exists on the response of platypus to threats.

“My Honours research will assess the impacts of past land use change, with a particular emphasis on forestry activity, on several key habitat variables and relate this to the distribution and health of platypus in the Upper Esk River catchment,” Tamika said.

“Hopefully, my study will help to address the fundamental gaps in our understanding of this unique species, and will help assess the magnitude of threats posed by land use changes,” said Tamika.

The Governor’s Environment Scholarships are an industry and government initiative designed to encourage students with an interest in Environmental management. The Governor of Tasmania is Patron of these prestigious scholarships and the University of Tasmania Foundation liaise with government and industry stakeholders to financially support the awards.

The Scholarships are funded by organisations that have a commitment to excellence in environmental practices in Tasmania, including the EPA, Bell Bay Aluminium, Hydro Tasmania, TasNetworks, SEMF, Nyrstar Hobart and Local Government Association Tasmania. The future sustainability of Tasmania is greatly assisted by partnerships and the Governor’s Environment Scholarships are an inspiring example of what can be achieved by working cooperatively towards a common goal.