Carp control using the herpesvirus needs some more thought…and research

Live carp in a drying wetland in the Murray-Darling Basin (Photo: Keller Kopf)

A recent paper in the journal Biological Invasions, led by Keller Kopf, and co-authored by me, and other Australian and international experts on fish, biocontrol and virology, asks difficult but important questions about the efficacy of the proposed release of the carp herpesvirus (CyHV-3). Continue reading

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Flow-fish recruitment research

New research is underway as part of the Murray-Darling Environmental Water Knowledge and Research program, which is investigating how flow influences the key environmental conditions and interacts with fish species traits to enable recruitment of riverine fishes. It is a collaboration among a range of organisations across the Murray-Darling Basin, and involves a synthesis of existing knowledge and development of a new recruitment model, and field and laboratory work to test some of the key hypotheses. Read more about it here..

Posted in Australia, Fish Ecology, Freshwater fish, River conservation, River ecology, River research | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Two river fish/food web PhD scholarships available

Two PhD scholarships are available through the School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia to investigate aspects of fish and food webs in Murray-Darling Basin rivers:

  • Trophic dynamics of native and non-native fishes of the Murray-Darling Basin
  • Maternal environment and trait effects on offspring survival in freshwater fishes

Advertiser: Charles Sturt University

Location: Albury, NSW Australia

Salary: Stipend: $27,082 (tax free) per year over 3 years

Two exciting opportunities exist to carry out a PhD project in the School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury NSW Australia. The scholarships are available to support Post Graduate students undertaking research projects that include, but are not limited to:

  • Field and laboratory studies focused on trophic interactions between invasive common carp and native fishes;
  • Stable isotope and fatty acid analyses on fish tissues;
  • Statistical modelling of food web interactions;
  • Laboratory experiments examining variation in growth and survival of larvae;
  • Global desktop analyses of fish traits using large databases

As well as an annual stipend ($27,082) and operating funds (up to $5000 per year) to support travel and fieldwork, successful applicants will have the opportunity to engage with natural resource managers and scientists at other research organisations to develop their respective projects. If successful, tuition and fees will be covered by the scholarship for a period of three years.

Potential candidates will need a First Class Honours, or a Masters degree with a research component.

Send an expression interest (including a CV and a cover letter) outlining your experience and research interests to Dr R. Keller Kopf, Charles Sturt University: email: (phone: 02 6051 9294). Applicants are encouraged to visit the Institute for Land Water and Society Fish Ecology Collaborative Research Unit webpage and contact R. Keller Kopf before submitting an expression interest.

Successful applicants will need to apply through Charles Sturt University for a relevant scholarship for doctoral studies e.g. Australian Post Graduate Award (APA), ILWS or International Postgraduate Research Scholarship. Further details are at:

Expressions of interest close 24 October 2017.

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Invasive species control: risks and rewards

Widespread invasive species control is a risky business

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Partula snails were driven to extinction in the wild by introduced predators.
Wikimedia Commons

R. Keller Kopf, Charles Sturt University; Dale Nimmo, Charles Sturt University, and Paul Humphries, Charles Sturt University

In 1977, on the islands of French Polynesia, government authorities released a predatory snail. They hoped this introduction would effectively control another species of invasive snail, previously introduced to supply escargot. The Conversation

Instead, by the early 1980s, scientists reported alarming declines of native snail populations. Within ten years, 48 native snail species (genus Partula) had been driven to extinction in the wild.

The extinction of the Partula is notorious partially because these snails were, before going extinct, the study subjects of the first test in nature of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

In the decades since, attempts to control and eradicate invasive species have become common, generally with far better results.

However, our paper, published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution, highlights the importance of scientific evidence and independent assessments when deciding whether to control or eradicate invasive species. Continue reading

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What Makes a River? | American Rivers

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Floods play a vital role in ecosystems – it’s time to get out of their way

Floods at Wangaratta, Victoria, in 2010. Photo: Paul Humphries

This is an article about the creative – not just destructive – aspects of floods, that Nicole McCasker, Keller Kopf and I wrote recently for The Conversation.

Paul Humphries, Charles Sturt University; Nicole McCasker, Charles Sturt University, and R. Keller Kopf, Charles Sturt University

Floods are often seen as a force of destruction. From photographs of crops under water and houses being swamped by swollen rivers, to stories of road, business and public amenity closures, the news during flooding understandably emphasises human loss.

But as river ecologists, we find it hard not to see the positive side of flooding. Why? Because although floods cause destruction, they are also creators, of which we are all beneficiaries. Continue reading

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Rivers of art: Ancient Rome

Lupa Capitolina: she-wolf with Romulus and Remus. Bronze, 12th century AD[1], 5th century BC (the twins are a 15th-century addition). Palazzo dei Conservatori, Hall of the She-Wolf.

Lupa Capitolina: she-wolf with Romulus and Remus. Bronze, 12th century AD[1], 5th century BC (the twins are a 15th-century addition). Palazzo dei Conservatori, Hall of the She-Wolf.

The Ancient Romans are, I suppose, best known for their ambitious and sometimes mad emperors, military conquests, rather unsavoury treatment of Christians, gladiatorial contests and their chariot races. And their roads. Oh yes, and their aqueducts. We shouldn’t forget their aqueducts! But stop for a moment and try to think of a famous Ancient Roman artwork or even type of art. Not that easy, is it? Indeed, for most people, what springs to mind when they think of Ancient Roman art, is most likely architecture. It is true that the Romans produced stunning mosaics, and the wall paintings in Pompeii are renowned, as I have described in an earlier post. But much of what we think of as ‘Roman art’ was heavily influenced by Greek culture of the Hellenistic Age. Most of the ‘Ancient Greek’ statues in modern museums are actually Roman copies of the originals. And many Greek gods and myths were simply adopted by the Romans, with name changes, of course. The Romans, busy conquering the world, filled the cultural vacuum with all things Greek and relied on Greek artists to decorate their world. But their art did evolve. And their depiction of rivers is testament to that.

Continue reading

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