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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

23 May 2006

Australian Government provides $1.87 million for vital biodiversity research


Research on fungi, ladybird beetles and zooplankton are among 57 projects to share $1.87 million in funding from the Australian Government, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Greg Hunt announced today.

"Australia is home to two million species of plants and animals, with 80 per cent found nowhere else in the world," Mr Hunt said. "But we have huge gaps in our scientific knowledge of these species - many of them newly discovered".

"This national grants programme provides critical support for taxonomists to describe and classify little-known plants, animals and micro-organisms. There are a vast range of exciting projects," Mr Hunt said.

"This work is fundamental to protecting our rich biodiversity from threats such as invasive species. It also has significant economic spin-offs for industry, from farmers managing weeds and diseases to miners rehabilitating oil and gas fields."

"It is the essential knowledge base for the use of plants and animals in medicines and vaccines."

The funding is made though the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), an Australian Government research agency which leads the world in providing species information for biodiversity management.

The grants are awarded annually under the ABRS Participatory Programme to private researchers and to scientists in universities, museums and herbaria.

"Researchers are investigating organisms which might poison cattle, parasites that infect coral reef fish and a mayfly family which is an important indicator of water quality."

"Projects will enable identification of native thrips that will assist Quarantine in recognition of newly introduced, potential pest species, and research on spider mites to identify native species will also strengthen our ability to detect new exotic species."

Grant projects will contribute to the development of publications, databases, CD ROMs and web-based interactive identification keys.

Significant grants include:

$28,000 to the University of Tasmania to develop a web-based key for the identification of south eastern marine zooplankton - sensitive indicators of climate change and nutrient enrichment.

$25,000 to CSIRO Entomology to develop an interactive key for the identification of a subfamily of ladybird beetles that are biological control agents of scale insects.

$30,000 to Dr Anthony Young, an independent researcher from Queensland, to complete research on the fungus genus Ramaria, which is of immense economic significance to Australia's forestry industry.

Media Contact:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's Office) 0415 740 722

For a full list of the ABRS grants, visit www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/whats-new;
Note to editors: Photos can be downloaded from www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/whats-new

Commonwealth of Australia