LIRRF Summer 2021 Update
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Dear <<First Name>>
As the year draws to a close, many of us feel we’re limping to the finishing line.   Nature perhaps feels that way too, including our precious coral reef ecosystem.  Luckily it seems our summer is shaping up to be a cool one – a relief for reef health as long as La Nina’s influence doesn’t bring damaging cyclones.         
Around Lizard Island the reef continues to recover after the damage caused by bleaching and cyclones between 2014 and 2017.   Many places around the island are now looking fabulous and every year after the coral spawning more places begin their recovery.
The spawning took place a few weeks ago in November.  A team from Southern Cross University and CSIRO was at Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) to develop coral ‘IVF’ as a means of kick-starting regeneration of degraded reefs. They collect coral spawn from the sea in nets, place it in floating pools for 5-7 days while it develops into larvae, then release it onto the reef where the larvae settle and hopefully develop into corals. The team will return to Lizard several times in 2022 to monitor how their intervention is working.
Who knows what sort of “normality” 2022 will bring.   Aside a bleach free summer, we hope LIRS will be accessible to researchers outside Queensland, as this year’s usage has been around 30% of capacity due to COVID restrictions.   Some international teams have made bookings for next year though of course there are a number of variables at play.

One of several colour forms of Freckled Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri) (Photo: Justin Marshall). 
Prof. Justin Marshall’s team at University of Queensland was able to continue field research during 2021 despite covid restrictions. They are investigating the physics and ecology of vision and colour on the reef at Lizard Island. 
Fellowships and grants update
The awarding of Fellowships last year was paused so we’re pleased this important program has resumed.  Four new postdoctoral fellows and three new postdoctoral fellowships have been selected to start in 2022. Recipients will be announced early 2022.   We are also in discussion re a new major research grant and hope to share some details soon.

Progress on many of the 2019 and 2020 awards has been delayed and we share some updates on the recipients: 
  • 2019 Lizard Island Doctoral Fellow Kelly Hannan (James Cook University) completed her much-delayed final field trip in early 2021.  She has since completed her PhD and taken up a postdoctoral position in California.
  • 2019 Zoltan Florian Fellow Catheline Froehlich (University of Wollongong) will complete her third and final field season with a 2-month trip to Lizard Island in early 2022. She had an ‘interesting’ time with border closures for her early 2021 trip but eventually made it.
  • 2019 John and Laurine Proud Postdoctoral Fellow Bridie Allen (University of Otago) was not able to get into Australia in 2020 or 2021 due to her university’s travel restrictions even when the border was open to New Zealanders. She hopes that she will be able to make it with her team in 2022.
  • 2019 Lizard Island Postdoctoral Fellows Chiara Pisapia and Steve Doo (California State University Northridge) had begun fieldwork at Lizard Island in March 2020 when COVID struck. Steve, already on the island, had to leave prematurely. Chiara was just about to arrive but had to reverse her travel plans. Both have since left their positions at CSU and taken up positions elsewhere. They will continue the project as soon as travel restrictions and their new situations allow. 
  • 2020 Ian Potter Doctoral Fellow Sterling Tebbett (James Cook University) is progressing as planned. He will make the last field trip for his PhD in January 2022.   A recent post about Sterling and his research at LIRS is here
  • 2020 Gough Family Doctoral Fellow Makeely Blandford (James Cook University) is also proceeding as planned. She is currently at LIRS towards the end of a 2-month field trip. She has one more year of funding in 2022.
  • 2020 Maple-Brown Family Postdoctoral Fellow Will Feeney (Griffith University) has been in Europe since COVID struck and unable to conduct the field work himself. However, he has been able to engage colleagues and students to do the required field work in his absence and the project is on track.
  • 2020 Raymond E. Purves Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow Stephanie Gardner (University of NSW) completed her field work in 2021.
  • 2020 John and Laurine Proud Postdoctoral Fellows Chris Goatley (University of New England) and Simon Brandl (University of Texas Austin) intend to begin field work for their project in mid-2022. They have been waiting for the international border to open to allow Simon and his US colleagues to take part.
  • 2020 Isobel Bennett Marine Biology Fellow Zegni Triki (Stockholm University) has not yet been able to begin her project due to international travel restrictions. She will soon leave Sweden to take up another position in Switzerland and intends to start work at Lizard Island as soon as possible.
A 3-year 2020 grant for coral communities research (supported by the Warman Foundation) to Maria Dornelas (University of St Andrews) and Joshua Madin (University of Hawaii) 2019 is progressing despite the principals’ inability to get to Australia, thanks to colleagues within the country stepping into the breach.
A 2-year 2020 grant for plastic pollution research (supported by the Banyer family and the Rossi Foundation) to Fredereike Kroon and Mark Meekan (both Australian Institute of Marine Science) is progressing as planned. The final field trip at Lizard Island concluded this week. 
Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus) (Photo: Justin Marshall). 
LIRS Infrastructure
In October three Foundation-funded capital projects were completed - the solar power upgrade was officially handed over, the aging 46 years old main power switchboard was replaced, as were two 90hp outboard motors. 
Those who missed two recent webinars hosted by LIRRF can tune in here. In October Prof. Lesley Hughes shared her insights into the workings of the IPCC and interpreted some sobering ramifications handed down in its most recent report (AR6).  Then in November highly regarded coral reef scientist Prof. Terry Hughes shared findings from his most recent research which reviewed the scale of bleaching along the Reef.  Terry was joined by policy expert Kate Mackenzie.
Finally, we share a couple of recent posts, including one written by Station co-director Dr Anne Hoggett, which looks into the question of how many coral species actually exist at Lizard Island?  Anne also refers to the work of Dr Zoe Richards, a researcher with rare expertise of identifying coral species in the field.  We also conduct an interview with Brazilian scientist Manoela Romano de Orte whose work comprises effects of marine pollution including around reefs.
We thank all our supporters as without your generosity the important research undertaken at LIRS could not continue.  On behalf of all my fellow Trustees I wish you and your family a safe and healthy holiday season.
Kate Hayward
Donate Now

How Many Coral Species Exist at Lizard Island?
That apparently simple question is not so easy to answer. Not only are corals notoriously difficult to identify to species, the mixture of species within a local community can change over time, rare species are easily overlooked, and even the concept of a species can be slippery.


Marine pollution research
For nearly two decades, Manoela Romano de Orte has been studying the double-barreled menace of pollution and climate change that puts coral reefs in the firing line.


Why Donate to support science at the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station?

  • Because the Great Barrier Reef is hugely important;
  • the science advances knowledge of life and informs reef conservation;
  • the Station is one of the world’s best coral reef field research facilities and helps develop the next generation of marine scientists;
  • the science depends on continuing donor support;
  • LIRRF provides a super-efficient funding channel where you will see your funds being put to good use;
  • and because we have a sense of wonder.
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Our mailing address is:
Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation
Australian Museum
1 William Street
Sydney, Nsw 2010

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