The true value of our research is realised when it is put into action.
Post mine site rehabilitation
The aim of this project is to ensure sustainable restoration of the Australian arid zone with a keystone shrub, Pearl Bluebush (Maireana sedifolia). Pearl Bluebush is an ecosystem dominant in the arid lands of southern Australia, making it a common restoration target in post mining rehabilitation.
However, the species is an unpredictable seeder and natural recruitment is often low. Together with our industry partner, Iluka Resources Ltd, we are working to provide long-term solutions for the restoration of this key restoration species.
Our approach has three core components:
1. Seed sourcing guidelines
Developed through rangewide analysis of the genetic architecture of the species. This incorporates genetic diversity, inbreeding and gene flow, plus the genetic adaptation potential of populations to climate.
2. A growth trial
Exploring the phenotypic adaptation of populations across the species range. This component focuses on traits that convey climate adaptation and the results will be used in combination with the genetic analysis.
3. A seed orchard experiment
To inform on-ground management actions to trigger seeding in this unpredictable species. This information will be used to develop a seed orchard that gives practitioners access to a long-term and reliable supply of seed.
urban environments & our health
Urbanisation is particularly on the rise in developing nations. This is reducing people’s exposure to the natural world, and, consequently, their contact with microbiomes of natural environments. Simultaneously, immune-related health disorders such as allergies, auto-immune and chronic inflammatory diseases are on the increase. Medical researchers now have reason to believe there is a link between these trends.
Can healthier and biodiverse urban ecosystems also make us healthier people? If so, how can we best harness this relationship to build the next generation of urban green spaces?
In collaboration with the Healthy Urban Microbiome Initiative (HUMI), FORE is investigating this proposition.
HUMI is a collaboration of scientists, local government and public health professionals working together to understand and recreate the immune-boosting power of the natural world and bring it to our city green spaces. Through this we hope to maximise population health benefits and bring significant savings to health budgets, while delivering gains for biodiversity. Digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease have been linked to the makeup of the gut microbiome. These diseases have a huge effect on the quality of life for sufferers and place financial burden to our health services. We are currently assessing the link between exposure to natural environments and the development and treatment of digestive disorders.
We hope to establish whether exposure to the microbiomes of natural environments can make our guts healthier. We envisage the results from this research will provide recommendations to help prevent and treat digestive disorders.
endangered species Conservation & seed supply
In partnership with the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), we have prepared a long term conservation plan for the critically endangered Whibley Wattle (Acacia whibleyana).
Whibley Wattle is found in a small area of South Australia that spans only a few kilometres. It is a narrow-ranged shrub that is restricted to a few remnant stands on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and relies on ants to disperse its seeds.
The species is highly vulnerable to inbreeding and genetic erosion due to the small size and fragmentation of populations. Using population genomics, we have analysed the genetic architecture of the species and developed a long-term conservation plan. This includes the genetic management of the species, development of seed orchards to safeguard seed supply and genetic diversity plus translocation recommendations to insure against future losses.