If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people

More than 200 people honour wildlife research pioneer Dr Bill Holsworth.

From Left: Dr Rohan Bilney, Dr Rodney van der Ree, Dr Bill Holsworth, Dr Raylene Cooke, Dr Fiona Hogan and Dr Mark Antos.
From Left: Dr Rohan Bilney, Dr Rodney van der Ree, Dr Bill Holsworth, Dr Raylene Cooke, Dr Fiona Hogan and Dr Mark Antos.

Deakin University’s cutting edge wildlife research was on show at a landmark symposium held on the Burwood Campus in February.

More than 200 people attended the symposium which, as well as highlighting Deakin’s credentials, paid tribute to one of the great supporters of wildlife research, Dr Bill Holsworth.

“Yes, there were two reasons to hold the symposium,” said Professor Andrew F. Bennett, one of the main drivers behind the event.

“We really wanted to pay tribute to what Bill has done as a philanthropist who has supported wildlife research.

“The Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment has for 20 years supported a large number of student researchers and their projects.

“This has been done by very strategic grants, of up to $7500 per year, that have allowed PhD students to get out into the field, to purchase essential equipment and to attend conferences.

“We’ve had more than 40 students at Deakin supported this way and there are hundreds of other students at universities in other parts of Australia.

“It is a wonderful and lasting contribution to the science of wildlife research.

“The other reason for the symposium was to show the quality of work that we have been doing in wildlife research at Deakin for quite some time now.”

All 15 speakers had a strong Deakin connection and all but three had completed their PhDs.

The keynote speaker was Dr Rod van der Ree who after leaving Deakin has graduated to the position of Deputy Director of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, a partnership between the University of Melbourne and the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The 200 attendees were drawn from a wide range of government and community organisations and Universities.

They heard talks on the following research areas:

  • Threatened species
  • Ecological effect of fire
  • Landscape ecology of woodlands and agricultural environments
  • Marine mammals.

“Another highlight of the day was the closing address by Bill Holsworth,” said Professor Bennett.

“His thoughts about conservation and the challenges facing us were a real inspiration for everyone at the symposium.

“Bill finished his talk with a Chinese proverb:

If you are planning for a year, sow rice;
if you are planning for a decade, plant trees;
if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.

(Read the full transcript of this address)

Professor Bennett said it had been great for many current and former Deakin researchers to catch up with each other.

“Deakin has established quite a diaspora of former PhD students who have moved on to work at other universities, in government agencies and conservation organisations,” he said.

“At the end of the day I have to say I feel very proud of them and what they have achieved.”

To find out more about these and other wildlife research projects at Deakin University, visit http://www.deakin.edu.au/scitech/les/research/rpa/wildlife/


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List of speakers at the symposium and their topics

Keynote:  Dr Rodney van der Ree: Wildlife conservation in human-dominated landscapes: ecology of the threatened Squirrel Glider

Dr John Aberton:  Post-fire succession of small mammals in the Anglesea region, Victoria

Dr Scott Laidlaw

Dr Mark Antos:  Where exactly do ground-foraging woodland birds forage?

Dr Raylene Cooke:  Powerful Owls – the more we learn the less we know!

Dr Fiona Hogan:  DNA fingerprinting of the Powerful Owl

Dr Rohan Bilney:  Large forest owl ecology and recent small mammal declines

Dr Meghan Cullen:  Vascular plants and small mammal communities over an elevational  gradient

Dr Grant Palmer: The value of riparian zones to bird communities in forests

Dr Greg Holland:  Widespread but not immune: the Bush Rat in a highly fragmented landscape

Dr Angie Haslem: Bird conservation in agricultural environments: the role of landscape pattern and heterogeneity

Dr Melanie Birtchnell:  Apiarists reveal long-term ecological trends

Dr Lindy MacRaild:  Mistletoes in rural environments: what influences their distribution?

Ms Sarah Brown: Conservation ecology of the endangered Mallee Emu-wren

Mr Ben Roennfeldt:  A blue outlook for estuarine copepods and larval fish

Mr Andrew Hoskins: Factors influencing foraging ecology of female Australian Fur Seals

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