Message from the Science Leader - Peter Doherty

Message from the Science Leader - Peter Doherty

The NERP TE Hub is now entering its third year of operation. In the last month, milestone reports from every project have been presented to the four Hub Implementation Groups forming the basis for dialogue with our research users around mechanisms for effective knowledge transfer and uptake of results.

It was pleasing to see the richness of outputs emerging from these portfolios. Most projects produced peer-reviewed publications during the period and the strongest performers had multiple papers accepted by the very best journals in their field. There were new discoveries such as the first hard evidence that animals in the Wet Tropics rainforest are responding to climate change in predictable ways, that wedge-tailed shearwaters nesting on the Great Barrier Reef are trans-equatorial migrants that overwinter in Micronesia, that flooding from extreme events affects clarity of the GBR Lagoon long after the freshwater has dispersed as fine sediments are remobilised by the wind, and that the cost of more sediments in the water is slower growth and lower survival of corals.

It was rewarding to see some of these results being taken up by managers with immediate effect. Examples that come to mind include the close collaboration with QDEHP to protect the sole known population of a threatened and endangered frog, the creation of referral guidelines under the EPBC Act for future developments that may impact on turtles and dugongs, the consideration by the DSEWPaC Chemical Assessments Unit of new information on the toxicity and persistence of residual pesticides influencing water quality guidelines, and the provision of expert advice to governments, NGOs and community groups on how to deal with flying foxes in a managed landscape.

It was satisfying to hear about higher levels of engagement with Indigenous stakeholders so soon after the Hub released its Strategy and Implementation Plan. Examples that come to mind are collaborations with Traditional Owners in north Queensland to survey snubfin dolphins, with rangers from the Torres Strait Regional Authority Land and Sea Management Unit to assess the health of coastal vegetation and coral reefs, the employment of Girrigun Indigenous rangers in prescribed burns by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service of forest habitat supporting endangered mahogany gliders, and the employment of Indigenous research assistants to connect some of the social and economics projects with their communities.

Finally I have been impressed by the work of the communications team at the RRRC to make this new information available quickly and to disseminate multiple messages about the NERP TE Hub program including syntheses and the latest series of Research Snapshots. All of this material can be found on our website ( and I encourage you to visit it on a regular basis. From there you can follow the link to the allied e-Atlas (, which I believe is now one of the largest online compilations of map services in Australia. It is a free public resource that has something useful for nearly everyone.

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