Research

Postgraduate profiles: Full alphabetical listing

 

Our postgraduates carry out interesting and often vital research into all manner of subjects across all research areas. Some are interested in politics, others in law, epidemiology, seagrasses or information and communications technology.

To promote their efforts, and to encourage others who are inspired to make their own mark on the world, we present the work of our current and past postgraduate students here.

Contact

Bethany Nordstrom


Start date

Jan 2020

Submission date

Jan 2023

Bethany Nordstrom

Bethany Nordstrom profile photo

Thesis

Assisted colonisation of the Western Swamp Turtle (Pseudemydura umbrina): the role of energy requirements in translocation decisions

Summary

Species with low reproductive rates, long generation times, and restricted ranges are particularly susceptible to climate change. One proposed solution for these species is assisted colonisation (the intentional translocation of species outside their historic range to mitigate a threat). The Critically Endangered Western Swamp Turtle (Pseudemydura umbrina), endemic to southwest Australia, is a strong candidate for assisted colonisation. It has experienced extensive habitat loss and fragmentation, and its remaining seasonal wetland habitat is threatened by declining rainfall. Assisted colonisation trials commenced in 2016 with captive-bred juveniles released south of their historic range; however, how prey availability and energy acquisition impact translocation success is not well understood.

This research project aims to better understand energy requirements of the Western Swamp Turtles in assisted colonisation sites by 1) developing novel eDNA methods to detect turtles and determine their diet in new habitats; 2) documenting turtle foraging behaviour in a southern wetland in relation to water temperatures and prey availability; and 3) incorporating food intake of the Western Swamp Turtle into a dynamic energy budget model. Understanding the capacity of turtle foraging in cooler climates will help inform on practical conservation management outcomes for the Western Swamp Turtle, such as improving translocation success. This research will provide the Western Swamp Recovery Team with greater certainty on whether southern wetlands can provide viable habitats for this Critically Endangered species in the near future.

Why my research is important

The Western Swamp Turtle is the first vertebrate species to undergo trials of assisted colonisation in response to the threat of climate change, and this research presents a unique opportunity to study assisted colonisation from several angles. Benefits of this research are not limited to the Western Swamp Turtle, as findings from this case study will provide insights on assisted colonisation as a conservation tool for other species unable to adapt in situ or migrate in response to rapid climate change.

Funding

  • Ernest Hodgkin Trust Research Scholarship
  • Australian Research Council

Western Swamp Turtle (Pseudemydura umbrina)