Townsville, Australia

James Cook University
Townsville, Australia

James Cook University is a public university and is the second oldest university in Queensland, Australia. JCU is a teaching and research institution. The University's main campuses are located in the tropical cities of Cairns, Singapore and Townsville. JCU also has study centres in Mount Isa, Mackay and Thursday Island. A Brisbane campus, operated by Russo Higher Education, delivers undergraduate and postgraduate courses to international students. The University’s main fields of research include marine science, biodiversity, sustainable management of tropical ecosystems, genetics and genomics, tropical health care and tourism. Wikipedia.

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Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC1-PM-06-2016 | Award Amount: 23.70M | Year: 2017

A highly effective malaria vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum should help prevent half a million deaths from malaria each year. New vaccine technologies and antigen discovery approaches now make accelerated design and development of a highly effective multi-antigen multi-stage subunit vaccine feasible. Leading malariologists, vaccine researchers and product developers will here collaborate in an exciting programme of antigen discovery science linked to rapid clinical development of new vaccine candidates. Our approach tackles the toughest problems in malaria vaccine design: choice of the best antigens, attaining high immunogenicity, avoiding polymorphic antigens and increasing the durability of vaccine immunogenicity and efficacy. We take advantage of several recent advances in vaccinology and adopt some very new technologies: sequencing malaria peptides eluted from the HLA molecules, parasites expressing multiple transgenes, multi-antigen virus-like particles constructed with new bonding technologies, delayed release microcapsules, and liver-targeted immunisation with vaccine vectors. We enhance our chances of success by using a multi-stage multi-antigen approach, by optimising the magnitude and durability of well-characterised immune responses to key antigens, and using stringent infectious challenges and functional assays as established criteria for progression at each stage. The consortium comprises many of the foremost researchers in this field in Europe with leading groups in the USA, Australia and Africa. We link to EDCTP programmes and harmonise our timeline to fit with the recent roadmaps for malaria vaccine development. We include a major pharma partner and several excellent European biotech companies helping enhance Europes leading position in the commercial development of vaccines. This ambitious and exciting programme should have a high chance of success in tackling the major global health problem posed by malaria.

Laurance W.F.,James Cook University | Sayer J.,James Cook University | Cassman K.G.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2014

The human population is projected to reach 11 billion this century, with the greatest increases in tropical developing nations. This growth, in concert with rising per-capita consumption, will require large increases in food and biofuel production. How will these megatrends affect tropical terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and biodiversityα We foresee (i) major expansion and intensification of tropical agriculture, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America; (ii) continuing rapid loss and alteration of tropical old-growth forests, woodlands, and semi-arid environments; (iii) a pivotal role for new roadways in determining the spatial extent of agriculture; and (iv) intensified conflicts between food production and nature conservation. Key priorities are to improve technologies and policies that promote more ecologically efficient food production while optimizing the allocation of lands to conservation and agriculture. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Zahedi A.,James Cook University
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2011

Many countries around the world are considering using solar energy technologies in their future energy planning. The intermittency and unpredictability nature of solar power generation, which can influence the power quality and reliability of the power grid especially at large-scale solar energy systems, constitute a drawback for use of solar technology. Precise research and investigations are needed to overcome this weakness helping solar power be used in power network in large scale. The variation in sun radiation may lead to over-production of electricity from solar PV generators at one time, and lack of production to satisfy the energy demand at another time. As a result, solar PV systems demonstrate a low-level of reliability in power systems. However, an energy storage technology would play a significant role in increasing the reliability of solar power generation systems. The objectives of this study are: firstly to review the issues in relation to grid-integration of solar PV systems, secondly, to review a range of storage devices that could technically and economically be used in association with solar PV energy in order to increase the solar energy penetration level with appropriate reliability in weak electric systems, and finally to present a model for solar PV system combined with battery and super-capacitor. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Pike D.A.,James Cook University
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2013

To understand whether climate limits current sea turtle nesting distributions and shapes the ecological niche of the terrestrial life-history stage of these wide-ranging marine vertebrates. Location: Coastlines world-wide. Methods: I predicted the spatial distributions of nesting habitat under current climatic conditions for seven sea turtle species using information criteria and maximum entropy modelling. I also compared niche similarity among species using three niche metrics: I, Schoener's D and relative rank. Results: Sea turtles currently nest across their entire bioclimatic envelopes, with up to six species predicted to nest on a single beach. The Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Australasia support high nesting diversity, with most regional areas supporting three to five species. Despite large overlap in nesting distributions among species, loggerhead and green turtles have the broadest environmental niches, while Kemp's ridley and flatback turtles have very narrow niches. Main conclusions: The terrestrial nesting habitat of sea turtles is characterized by distinct climatic conditions, which are linked to the physical conditions necessary for eggs to hatch successfully and allow hatchlings to disperse from natal areas. Despite broad geographic patterns of overlap and similar embryonic tolerances to temperature and moisture among species, sea turtles partition habitat by nesting in different niche spaces. The tight link between current geographic patterns of nesting and climate, along with the dependence of developing embryos on nest microclimate, imply that regional or global changes in environmental conditions could differentially influence the distribution of sea turtle species under climate change. This could influence the adaptive potential of different populations, and predicting these responses before they occur will be important in mitigating the effects of climate change. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Laurance W.F.,James Cook University
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Although many protected areas are foci for scientific research, they also face growing threats from illegal encroachment and overharvesting. Does the presence of field researchers help to limit such threats? Although evidence is largely anecdotal, researchers do appear to provide some protective effects, both actively (such as by deterring poachers) and passively (such as by benefiting local communities economically and thereby generating support for protected areas). However, much remains unknown about the generality and impacts of such benefits. A key priority is to develop a better understanding of the advantages and limitations of field research for aiding protected areas and their biodiversity. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Nott J.,James Cook University
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2011

This study provides the first long-term tropical cyclone record from the Indian Ocean region. Multiple shore parallel ridges composed entirely of one species of marine cockle shell (Fragum eragatum) standing between 3 and 6 m above mean sea level occur at Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia. The ridges record a tropical cyclone history between approximately 500 cal BP and 6000-7000 cal BP. Numerical storm surge and shallow water wave modelling techniques have been applied to determine the intensity (central pressure with uncertainty margins) of the storms responsible for deposition of the ridges, which has occurred approximately every 190-270 years. The ridges also record a 1700 year gap in tropical cyclone activity, between approximately 5400 cal BP and 3700 cal BP, where ridges deposited prior to this time were buried by a substantial deposit of aeolian fine-grained terrestrial sediment. The presence of this sedimentary unit suggests that this 1700 year period was characterised by a very dry climate; possibly the driest phase experienced in this region since the mid-Holocene. The absence of tropical cyclones at this time and the occurrence of this mega-drought may be linked. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Cinner J.,James Cook University
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2014

Coral reefs support the livelihoods of millions of people, overwhelmingly in developing countries. As reefs become increasingly overfished, scientists and managers frequently suggest that dependence on reef fisheries needs to be reduced. Yet, attempts to do so often fail spectacularly and even result in perverse outcomes because the nature of coral reef livelihoods is often poorly understood. Here, I discuss two emerging threads of social science research that are helping to better shape our understanding about coral reef livelihoods. First is a growing appreciation of the non-material benefits that coral reef fisheries provide to people. Coral reefs contribute to people's identity, lifestyle, and social norms, which create a strong attachment to fishing that can keep people in a fishery. Second, a growing body of research is exploring the role of livelihood diversity in collectively organizing to solve overfishing, complying with fisheries and protected area management, fishing intensity, and willingness to exit the fishery. Importantly, current theory and empirical research does not always support the notion that diversification of livelihoods will lead to reduced fishing effort or lower environmental impacts on coral reefs. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Phillips B.L.,James Cook University
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

The virulence of a pathogen can vary strongly through time. While cyclical variation in virulence is regularly observed, directional shifts in virulence are less commonly observed and are typically associated with decreasing virulence of biological control agents through coevolution. It is increasingly appreciated, however, that spatial effects can lead to evolutionary trajectories that differ from standard expectations. One such possibility is that, as a pathogen spreads through a naive host population, its virulence increases on the invasion front. In Central America, there is compelling evidence for the recent spread of pathogenic Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and for its strong impact on amphibian populations. Here, we re-examine data on Bd prevalence and amphibian population decline across 13 sites from southern Mexico through Central America, and show that, in the initial phases of the Bd invasion, amphibian population decline lagged approximately 9 years behind the arrival of the pathogen, but that this lag diminished markedly over time. In total, our analysis suggests an increase in Bd virulence as it spread southwards, a pattern consistent with rapid evolution of increased virulence on Bd's invading front. The impact of Bd on amphibians might therefore be driven by rapid evolution in addition to more proximate environmental drivers.

Bellwood D.R.,James Cook University
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2014

The evolution of ecological processes on coral reefs was examined based on Eocene fossil fishes from Monte Bolca, Italy and extant species from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Using ecologically relevant morphological metrics, we investigated the evolution of herbivory in surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) and rabbitfishes (Siganidae). Eocene and Recent surgeonfishes showed remarkable similarities, with grazers, browsers and even specialized, long-snouted forms having Eocene analogues. These long-snouted Eocene species were probably pair-forming, crevice-feeding forms like their Recent counterparts. Although Eocene surgeonfishes likely played a critical role as herbivores during the origins of modern coral reefs, they lacked the novel morphologies seen in modern Acanthurus and Siganus (including eyes positioned high above their low-set mouths). Today, these forms dominate coral reefs in both abundance and species richness and are associated with feeding on shallow, exposed algal turfs. The radiation of these new forms, and their expansion into new habitats in the Oligocene-Miocene, reflects the second phase in the development of fish herbivory on coral reefs that is closely associated with the exploitation of highly productive short algal turfs.

Pike D.A.,James Cook University
Global Change Biology | Year: 2014

Animals living in tropical regions may be at increased risk from climate change because current temperatures at these locations already approach critical physiological thresholds. Relatively small temperature increases could cause animals to exceed these thresholds more often, resulting in substantial fitness costs or even death. Oviparous species could be especially vulnerable because the maximum thermal tolerances of incubating embryos is often lower than adult counterparts, and in many species mothers abandon the eggs after oviposition, rendering them immobile and thus unable to avoid extreme temperatures. As a consequence, the effects of climate change might become evident earlier and be more devastating for hatchling production in the tropics. Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) have the widest nesting range of any living reptile, spanning temperate to tropical latitudes in both hemispheres. Currently, loggerhead sea turtle populations in the tropics produce nearly 30% fewer hatchlings per nest than temperate populations. Strong correlations between empirical hatching success and habitat quality allowed global predictions of the spatiotemporal impacts of climate change on this fitness trait. Under climate change, many sea turtle populations nesting in tropical environments are predicted to experience severe reductions in hatchling production, whereas hatching success in many temperate populations could remain unchanged or even increase with rising temperatures. Some populations could show very complex responses to climate change, with higher relative hatchling production as temperatures begin to increase, followed by declines as critical physiological thresholds are exceeded more frequently. Predicting when, where, and how climate change could impact the reproductive output of local populations is crucial for anticipating how a warming world will influence population size, growth, and stability. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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