The plight of some of Australia’s rarest marsupials headline the latest funding splash into the world’s oldest living rainforest.
Wet Tropics Management Authority is supporting new research into endangered species and invasive pests living in the World Heritage Area through its Student Research Grant Scheme.
The Authority has issued 16 grants to postgraduate students delving into environmental, social and cultural research aimed at benefiting the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Executive Director Scott Buchanan says the research funded by the scheme has the potential to shape future management policy of the Area.
“One of the Authority’s aims is to create pathways for people to learn more about tropical rainforests and the sustainable management of this unique landscape,” Mr Buchanan says.
“These grants touch on issues affecting our World Heritage listed rainforests and may even fundamentally change how we protect the Area in years to come.”
This year’s grants include funding for research into the impact of yellow crazy ants on key invertebrates in the Wet Tropics, methods for conservation of the spotted-tail quoll and determining population numbers of the endangered northern bettong in the Lamb Range.
“It’s an exciting time to be studying northern bettongs with recent sightings indicating there may be more of the marsupials in the wild than we’d previously thought,” Mr Buchanan says.
“Additionally, finding new ways to protect the endangered northern subspecies of the spotted tailed quoll is very important with around 500 estimated to be living in the Wet Tropics.
Mr Buchanan says further research into yellow crazy ants’ effect on animals may also enhance the Authority’s eradication programs.
“Yellow crazy ants are among the most aggressive invasive species found in the Wet Tropics and pose a real threat to our wildlife,” Mr Buchanan says.
“The ants work in large numbers and spray formic acid to kill often much larger prey, making them a danger to many of our native species in the Wet Tropics.”
The Authority has funded more than $200,000 in research through the Student Research Grants Scheme since it started in 2011.
This year, $36,600 in grants have been approved. Researchers will provide a progress report on their studies in December.