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

New digs for all creatures great and small

Veterinary teaching, research and practice at James Cook University is about to be transformed with state-of-the art new facilities soon to be constructed at the Townsville campus.

The $10 million development of the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences School precinct will provide a new administration building, and a new pathology building, including a world-class necropsy facility.
Head of the school and Veterinary Science Dean Wayne Hein said the project would change the face of veterinary studies at the university.

“As long as people and animals have worked and lived together, veterinary medicine has been an essential part of life,” he said.

Hein said advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques had transformed the industry in modern times.

For example, animals may now receive advanced medical, dental, and surgical care and JCU needs to ensure its facilities are keeping pace with modern advancements, he said.

“This is a very exciting project, and will cement JCU’s reputation as one of Australia’s premier veterinary schools.” Continue reading New digs for all creatures great and small

First vets to graduate from JCU

North Queensland’s depleted veterinary profession is about to receive an injection of new blood, when the first cohort of Veterinary Science students graduate from James Cook University.
Five years’ hard work from both staff and students will pay off this month when the first batch of JCU animal doctors enter the veterinary industry.
And the word from the profession indicates that practitioners are poised and ready to snap up this next generation of vets, with many students already securing jobs in country practices in Queensland and elsewhere.

“Before taking on the massive responsibility of training the region’s future vets, we made sure we asked people on the front line what they wanted from our graduates,” Veterinary Science Dean Lee Fitzpatrick said.

“Their responses formed the basis of our integrated curriculum, which has grown to become quite the innovation.

“We have received favourable feedback from vets across the profession and that’s reflected by the jobs being offered to our graduates.

“The end product will speak for itself. It will be an honour to call them colleagues.”

Joshua Berryman is one of more than 40 students anticipating the day he can finally call himself a vet. Continue reading First vets to graduate from JCU