Biology & Environmental Sciences
Spatial modelling WA's biodiversity
Centre for Ecosystem Management PhD student Shaun Molloy has undertaken a project to determine if proximity based landscape modelling tools are relevant and effective in the management of particular fauna species within the context of the fragmented landscapes of south western WA.
Using computer software that measures and evaluates landscape connectivity through the spatial relationships that exist between patches of remnant vegetation, Shaun is investigating the landscape requirements of a group of widespread species and finding ways to map, or predict, these requirements.
He is also examining the strengths and limitations of current spatial modelling tools and investigating ways in which spatial modelling can be applied, or made more effective, in meeting the requirements of the region's unique landscapes and species.
Salt ponds as habitat for shorebirds
A Master Research Agreement between Rio Tinto Dampier Salt Ltd and ECU has paved the way for a series of exciting new postgraduate research opportunities in Australia's northwest for students in our Environmental Science and Biological Science disciplines.
Professor Pierre Horwitz and his colleagues in our School of Natural Sciences have established two research programs for PhD, Masters by Research and Honours students, amounting to nearly $1m in funding for scholarships, salaries and research support for the next three and a half years.
Among the research programs will be an investigation into the feeding ecology and habitat use of migratory and other shorebirds utilising Dampier Salt operations. The focus will be on habitat selection, feeding behaviour and foraging resources present at the salt sites and how these are influenced by, or related to Dampier Salt operations. This will be in a comparative context with other important shorebird sites in the region because North-Western Australia is a critical stage of the East Asia-Australasia Flyway for migratory and other shorebirds.
This work will provide information to assist in the management of the salt works to minimise negative impacts on shorebirds and to highlight positive effects on shorebird feeding. Together all projects will build knowledge and capacity in the field of salt ponds and internationally significant saline ecosystems, ensuring their appropriate management.
Our Science students and researchers have access to excellent facilities and equipment in the University's state‑of‑the‑art, award‑winning, $28 million Science and Health building.The building includes a range of environmentally‑friendly features to reduce energy consumption, by maximising the use of rainwater, solar energy and natural light. The principles of sustainability are also reflected in its design.
"My course allows me to do things most people only dream of."
"The Biological Sciences course at ECU has given me a good understanding of the fundamental concepts of biology and how they connect with, and help me critically analyse, the results from advanced research. Fieldwork is an important part of my course. I’ve helped with reptile surveys and research projects all over the state. These opportunities took me to stunning areas of WA, including the Kimberley, and allowed me to get up close and personal with elusive species of native fauna that most people don’t even know exist."
Biological Sciences Masters student