Vaccinations rise following lyssavirus deaths

There has been a sharp rise in the number of lyssavirus vaccinations following the death of an eight-year-old boy who succumbed to the virus.
Almost 300 people have sought the vaccination, up over 100 per cent on the same period last year.
Lincoln Flynn was scratched by a flying fox about two months before becoming ill.
Health experts have recommended that anyone who suspects they may have been scratched or bitten by a bat in the last few years to be vaccinated against the virus, which is similar to rabies. Continue reading Vaccinations rise following lyssavirus deaths

Preventing cane toad progression

The results of research that offers a solution for halting the relentless march of cane toads (Rhinella marina) across northern Australia was published recently in December’s issue of the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology.

An international team led by Ben Phillips from James Cook University’s School of Marine and Tropical Biology, and a lead author of the study, has shown that the removal of artificial waterbodies in key locations along the narrow Kimberley-Pilbara corridor, a region currently threatened by the spread of cane toads, would be an effective measure in preventing the amphibians establishing satellite populations.

Graziers installed the artificial waterbodies, which serve as important breeding sites and dry-season refuges for toads in a region where they would otherwise struggle to survive, but in simulated studies researchers comprehensively concluded cane toads would be unable to colonise the Pilbara if artificial waterbodies were made unavailable to them.

“By removing around 100 artificial waterbodies, toads can be prevented from occupying 268,000 square kilometres of their potential range in Western Australia, which is an area larger than Great Britain,” Phillips said.

The cane toad invasion has continued unabated despite significant efforts made by numerous community groups to try and limit its advance, but based on comparisons with scientifically accredited studies of plant invasions, the research team showed that: “targeting satellite populations can be an efficient strategy to impede rates of spread.” Continue reading Preventing cane toad progression

Bee study boosted by scholarship

Tobias Smith.

A childhood interest in bees has resulted in the receipt of a prestigious Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowship for a PhD student from Queensland University (UQ), Tobias Smith.

The fellowship, valued at $17,000, will allow Smith to further pursue his research on the diversity patterns of bees and flies in tropical rainforests areas, at Smithsonian Research Centres in North and Central America.

Smith is researching pollinator communities in Far North Queensland and exploring the impacts of habitat fragmentation and other landscape change. He has already collected a comprehensive data set on bees and flies during six months of surveys on the Atherton tablelands and aims at highlighting the significance of these insect communities in Queensland’s tropics. Continue reading Bee study boosted by scholarship