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LIRRF Spring 2021 Update
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Dear <<First Name>>
 
Thank you for your interest in and support for science on our Great Barrier Reef.
 
Since our last newsletter 3 months ago, COVID understandably continues to dominate our lives and daily news feeds.   Our environment, however, has had an occasional look in.  In July, following last-minute Government lobbying, UNESCO’s world heritage committee decided not to place the Reef on its “in danger” list.  A decision that left many of us in disbelief.   Australia now has till the end of February 2022 to report back on various initiatives.  
 
In August the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released its 6th assessment report on climate science. The conclusions made by the 200+ authors are sobering.  On Tuesday, October 19, 5.30PM, the Foundation will host a webinar with Prof. Lesley Hughes (Climate lead author on the IPCC’s 4th and 5th assessment reports).  Lesley will explain what the IPCC is, highlight the recent findings and discuss why they matter greatly.  She will be joined by Station co-director Dr Anne Hoggett AM and Prof. Kris Helgen, AM’S Chief Scientist and director of the Australian Museum Research Institute.  Details will be emailed shortly.
 
And what about news from the Station?  Travel restrictions continue to disrupt schedules with occupancy and forward bookings remaining patchy.  That said, a number of researchers, mostly Queensland-based ones, have spent time at the Station over the past few months. Projects included vision in marine organisms (UQ team led by Prof. Justin Marshall), use of robots for marine monitoring and manipulation (Dr Matt Dunbabin, QUT with researchers from Australian Institute of Marine Science), monitoring Crown-of-Thorns Starfish using eDNA (AIMS), ongoing work by our 2019 Ian Potter Doctoral Fellow, Sterling Tebbett from JCU, and continuation of the multi-institutional archaeology project led by Prof. Sean Ulm of JCU.
 
Applications for 2022 Fellowships are underway following the program’s pause last year.  These awards will be restricted to Australian-based researchers though hopefully next year the program will include overseas applicants again.  International researchers have traditionally accounted for at least half of the Station’s usage.  A decision will be made by mid-October on whether the long-awaited High Schools Study Tour can go ahead in December as planned.
 
The Foundation has recently agreed to fund two new grant programs, including one to support critical coral reef research – with coral reefs under such threat there is much scope for well-targeted research.  Expressions of interest will soon be called for fieldwork to ideally start in 2022. 
 
We’re delighted to relay that we’ve just launched a “refurbished” lirrf.org website which includes informative and expanded content, photos, and videos highlighting the important work supported by Foundation and the Station.  Please do visit. 
 
 A few further snippets of news: 
  • Following last summer’s bleaching scare, corals continue to recover around Lizard, some areas better than others, highlighting how resilient corals can be if given the chance. 
  • The new solar power system is operating well, with solar producing 95% of Station annual power needs.
  • One of the Station’s 15 boats, “Pip” (click here to see a picture of Pip), is being replaced by the generosity of Pip Smith.  All LIRS boats are custom built and more about them can be found here.
  • We hope you enjoy reading the below-featured research, which includes how one of our Fellows used their travel allowance during COVID to great benefit (Tim Gordon, Ian Potter Doctoral Fellow); how a single two-week workshop held at Lizard eight years ago continues to expand knowledge on coral reef biodiversity, and a look at two research projects and their predictions on the diversity of reef life around Lizard as coral health continues to degrade.
 
We thank all of you for your donations this past year. All donations received are spent on research, unless directed otherwise by donors. We all have our fingers crossed that travel restrictions will soon ease, allowing researchers to get on with their work at Lizard.
 
This coming year the Foundation will support research operating costs to the tune of $125,000, fund capital projects in the vicinity of $140,000 and support fellowships and grants in the order of $340,000. None of this important investment and vital research would be possible without your support. Thank you.
 
Best wishes,

Kate Hayward
Chair - LIRRF
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The rise and fall of turf-algae empires
How will the abundance and diversity of life respond to the overall declining health of the Great Barrier Reef? The drivers of abundance and diversity are complex. They include the availability of food, the availability of shelter, and access to the services provided by other species (such as cleaner fish).

Read more...

Outcomes of the Polychaete Workshop eight years on
A 2013 expedition to Lizard Island by a team of worm taxonomists has greatly expanded knowledge of coral reef biodiversity – and reveals how much more there is still to learn.

Read more...

Fellowship travel awards in a time of COVID
Our Foundation provides funding for its doctoral fellows to present their research at an international conference in their second or third year. Such meetings are vitally important for young researchers to become exposed to wider ideas, to make themselves known and to meet others. 

Read more...

Changing Reefs
Sterling is a PhD student in the Coral Reef Function Hub at James Cook University, exploring what future reefs might look like and how they will function. With the backing of the 2020 Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship, Sterling is able to investigate reefs that are changing quickly. “It’s been amazing to have that support, backing me through the hard yards of conducting my research.”

Read more...

Pip
Pip’s grandsons the Baillie boys, Beau, Finn, Jude and Caz.

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 reef research facilities and advances marine science careers;
  • 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.
Donate Now
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Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation
Australian Museum
1 William Street
Sydney, Nsw 2010
Australia

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