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Dickman C.R.,University of Sydney | Palmer C.,Northern Territory Government | Graham G.,Conservation Commission of Western Australia | Partridge T.,Macquarie University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

We construct a state-and-transition model for mammals in tropical savannas in northern Australia to synthesize ecological knowledge and understand mammalian declines. We aimed to validate the existence of alternative mammal assemblage states similar to those in arid Australian grasslands, and to speculate on transition triggers. Based on the arid grassland model, we hypothesized that assemblages are partitioned across rainfall gradients and between substrates. We also predicted that assemblages typical of arid regions in boom periods would be prevalent in savannas with higher and more regular rainfall. Data from eight mammal surveys from the Kimberley region, Western Australia (1994 to 2011) were collated. Survey sites were partitioned across rainfall zones and habitats. Data allowed us to identify three assemblage states: State 0:- low numbers of mammals, State II:- dominated by omnivorous rodents and State III:- dominated by rodents and larger marsupials. Unlike arid grasslands, assemblage dominance by insectivorous dasyurids (State I) did not occur in savannas. Mammal assemblages were partitioned across rainfall zones and between substrates as predicted, but - unlike arid regions - were not related strongly to yearly rainfall. Mammal assemblage composition showed high regional stability, probably related to high annual rainfall and predictable wet season resource pulses. As a consequence, we speculate that perpetually booming assemblages in savannas allow top-down control of the ecosystem, with suppression of introduced cats by the dingo, the region's top predator. Under conditions of low or erratic productivity, imposed increasingly by intense fire regimes and introduced herbivore grazing, dingoes may not limit impacts of cats on native mammals. These interacting factors may explain contemporary declines of savanna mammals as well as historical declines in arid Australia. The cat-ecosystem productivity hypothesis raised here differs from the already-articulated cat-habitat structure hypothesis for mammal declines, and we suggest approaches for explicit testing of transition triggers for competing hypotheses. © 2014 Radford et al.


Hunt W.,Northern Territory Government | Birch C.,University of Tasmania | Coutts J.,Coutts JandR Toowoomba | Vanclay F.,University of Groningen
Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension | Year: 2012

Purpose: This article outlines the development of extension as a discipline in Australia, its organization, and the ideological changes that have occurred from the second half of the nineteenth century through to the present.Design/Methodology/Approach: It considers the evolution of extension across the different states of Australia from a national perspective and describes how the research development and extension (RD&E) complex has rotated through cycles of crises, highs, awakenings in thought and practice, and periods where achievements and institutions unravel.Findings: Discussed is the tension between public and private sector extension, as well as the successes and failures of various paradigms. It considers the impacts of different agricultural policy on Australian agricultural RD&E across the decades. In particular it deals with the current 'unravelling' of the agricultural RD&E system in Australia, and tries to anticipate future demands on agricultural extension and how these services might be delivered into the future.Practical Implications: The article challenges the reader to consider the discipline of extension as a subset of the greater society in which it exists. It provides an insight into how the agricultural research, development and extension capacity of a nation can be observed to ebb and flow over generations in accord with the rhythm of society.Originality/Value: The article presents a perspective that has not been fully captured or understood until now. © 2012 Copyright Wageningen University.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

DUBLIN, IRELAND--(Marketwired - Feb. 15, 2017) - Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:FO)(AIM:FOG)(ESM:FAC) is pleased to announce that Origin Energy Resources Limited ("Origin"), Falcon's 35% joint venture partner, has submitted the Results of Evaluation of the Discovery and Preliminary Estimate of Petroleum in Place for the Amungee NW-1H Velkerri B Shale Gas Pool ("Report") to the Northern Territory Government. The submission follows the completion of extended production testing at the Amungee NW-1H exploration well of the "B Shale" member of the Middle Velkerri Formation. In addition, Origin undertook a resource study based on the Amungee NW-1H well results and other key wells in the Beetaloo Basin including regional seismic data to determine a 2C contingent gas resource estimate for the Middle Velkerri B Shale Pool within EP76, EP98 and EP117. The Report was submitted in compliance with Section 64 of the Northern Territory Petroleum Act (2016) and as per the Reporting a Petroleum Discovery Guideline. The Report follows the initial submission of the notification of discovery and an initial report on discovery in October 2016. The Report provides the following volumetric estimates and recovery / utilisation factor for the B Shale member of the Middle Velkerri Formation within permits EP76, EP98, and EP117. Understanding the factors controlling deliverability and recovery as well as spatial variation within the gas play/shale pool are in their infancy. A quantitative assessment of the aggregated estimated recoverable resource of the gas play that can handle these complexities will require a statistically significant number of wells testing the gas play. As there is only a single production test within the gas play Origin decided upon a qualitative assessment approach instead to estimate the technically recoverable resource. Factors considered in the qualitative assessment of technically recoverable hydrocarbon resource in the gas play were the SRV recovery factor range, the subsurface utilization factor range and surface utilization factor range. Origin's Contingent Gas Resource Estimates for the Middle Velkerri B Shale Pool within EP76, EP98 and EP117 Origin has prepared a contingent gas resource estimate using probabilistic methods and reservoir evaluation data, in addition to regional seismic data. As noted in Origin's press release the "The contingent resource estimates contained in [their] report are based on, and fairly represents, information and supporting documentation that have been prepared by Alexander Côté who is a full-time Origin employee and a Qualified Reserves and Resource Evaluator. Mr Côté is a registered professional engineer with specialised unconventional gas resource characterisation and development experience. Mr Côté has consented to the form and context in which these statements appear". Mr Côté is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. On 14 September 2016, the Northern Territory Government introduced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and subsequently established an independent scientific inquiry. Pending the outcome of this independent inquiry, Origin has requested a suspension of all drilling operations with the DPIR. We await their formal response to the request. "The submission of a discovery evaluation report supporting the existence of a material gas resource in the Beetaloo Basin coupled with Origin's best estimate assessment of a gross contingent gas resource of 6.6 TCF for the Middle Velkerri B shale pool surrounding and adjacent to the Amungee NW-1H exploration well are exciting developments for Falcon. Additional exploration and appraisal activity will be required to refine the pool size and better assess the recoverable resource range and ultimately the commerciality of the play. However, it is interesting to note that in Origin's opinion the Marcellus and Barnett Shales in the USA are analogous, commercially-productive fields that are similar to the Middle Velkerri B Shale reservoir." Please refer to Appendix A for a copy of Origin's ASX/Media Release "Beetaloo Basin drill results indicate material gas resource". This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation 596/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Further information relating to disclosure of resources Certain information in this press release may constitute forward-looking information. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking information. Forward-looking information typically contains statements with words such as "may", "will", "should", "expect", "intend", "plan", "anticipate", "believe", "estimate", "projects", "potential", "scheduled", "forecast", "outlook", "budget", "hope", "support" or the negative of those terms or similar words suggesting future outcomes. This information is based on current expectations that are subject to significant risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Such information may include, but is not limited to, comments made with respect to the type, number, schedule, stimulating, testing and objectives of the wells to be drilled in the Beetaloo basin Australia, the prospectivity of the Middle Velkerri play and the prospect of the exploration programme being brought to commerciality, risks associated with the introduction of a moratorium, fluctuations in market prices for shale gas; risks related to the exploration, development and production of shale gas reserves; general economic, market and business conditions; substantial capital requirements; uncertainties inherent in estimating quantities of reserves and resources; extent of, and cost of compliance with, government laws and regulations and the effect of changes in such laws and regulations; the need to obtain regulatory approvals before development commences; environmental risks and hazards and the cost of compliance with environmental regulations; aboriginal claims; inherent risks and hazards with operations such as mechanical or pipe failure, cratering and other dangerous conditions; potential cost overruns; variations in foreign exchange rates; competition for capital, equipment, new leases, pipeline capacity and skilled personnel; the failure of the holder of licenses, leases and permits to meet requirements of such; changes in royalty regimes; failure to accurately estimate abandonment and reclamation costs; inaccurate estimates and assumptions by management and their joint venture partners; effectiveness of internal controls; the potential lack of available drilling equipment; failure to obtain or keep key personnel; title deficiencies; geo-political risks; and risk of litigation. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of important factors is not exhaustive and that these factors and risks are difficult to predict. Actual results might differ materially from results suggested in any forward-looking statements. Falcon assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those reflected in the forward looking-statements unless and until required by securities laws applicable to Falcon. Additional information identifying risks and uncertainties is contained in Falcon's filings with the Canadian securities regulators, which filings are available at www.sedar.com, including under "Risk Factors" in the Annual Information Form. This announcement has been reviewed by Dr. Gábor Bada, Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd's Head of Technical Operations. Dr. Bada obtained his geology degree at the Eötvös L. University in Budapest, Hungary and his PhD at the Vrije Aniversiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is a member of AAPG and EAGE. Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd is an international oil & gas company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of conventional and unconventional oil and gas assets, with the current portfolio focused in Australia, South Africa and Hungary. Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd is incorporated in British Columbia, Canada and headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with a technical team based in Budapest, Hungary. For further information on Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. please visit www.falconoilandgas.com Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) is the leading Australian integrated energy company with market leading positions in energy retailing (approximately 4.3 million customers), power generation (approximately 6,000 MW of capacity owned and contracted) and natural gas production (1,093 PJ of 2P reserves and annual production of 82 PJe). To match its leadership in the supply of green energy, Origin also aspires to be the number one renewables company in Australia. Through Australia Pacific LNG, its incorporated joint venture with ConocoPhillips and Sinopec, Origin is developing Australia's biggest CSG to LNG project based on the country's largest 2P CSG reserves base. Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. To view Appendix A - Origin's ASX/Media Release, please visit the following link:


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

DUBLIN, IRELAND--(Marketwired - Feb. 15, 2017) - Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:FO)(AIM:FOG)(ESM:FAC) is pleased to announce that Origin Energy Resources Limited ("Origin"), Falcon's 35% joint venture partner, has submitted the Results of Evaluation of the Discovery and Preliminary Estimate of Petroleum in Place for the Amungee NW-1H Velkerri B Shale Gas Pool ("Report") to the Northern Territory Government. The submission follows the completion of extended production testing at the Amungee NW-1H exploration well of the "B Shale" member of the Middle Velkerri Formation. In addition, Origin undertook a resource study based on the Amungee NW-1H well results and other key wells in the Beetaloo Basin including regional seismic data to determine a 2C contingent gas resource estimate for the Middle Velkerri B Shale Pool within EP76, EP98 and EP117. The Report was submitted in compliance with Section 64 of the Northern Territory Petroleum Act (2016) and as per the Reporting a Petroleum Discovery Guideline. The Report follows the initial submission of the notification of discovery and an initial report on discovery in October 2016. The Report provides the following volumetric estimates and recovery / utilisation factor for the B Shale member of the Middle Velkerri Formation within permits EP76, EP98, and EP117. Understanding the factors controlling deliverability and recovery as well as spatial variation within the gas play/shale pool are in their infancy. A quantitative assessment of the aggregated estimated recoverable resource of the gas play that can handle these complexities will require a statistically significant number of wells testing the gas play. As there is only a single production test within the gas play Origin decided upon a qualitative assessment approach instead to estimate the technically recoverable resource. Factors considered in the qualitative assessment of technically recoverable hydrocarbon resource in the gas play were the SRV recovery factor range, the subsurface utilization factor range and surface utilization factor range. Origin's Contingent Gas Resource Estimates for the Middle Velkerri B Shale Pool within EP76, EP98 and EP117 Origin has prepared a contingent gas resource estimate using probabilistic methods and reservoir evaluation data, in addition to regional seismic data. As noted in Origin's press release the "The contingent resource estimates contained in [their] report are based on, and fairly represents, information and supporting documentation that have been prepared by Alexander Côté who is a full-time Origin employee and a Qualified Reserves and Resource Evaluator. Mr Côté is a registered professional engineer with specialised unconventional gas resource characterisation and development experience. Mr Côté has consented to the form and context in which these statements appear". Mr Côté is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. On 14 September 2016, the Northern Territory Government introduced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and subsequently established an independent scientific inquiry. Pending the outcome of this independent inquiry, Origin has requested a suspension of all drilling operations with the DPIR. We await their formal response to the request. "The submission of a discovery evaluation report supporting the existence of a material gas resource in the Beetaloo Basin coupled with Origin's best estimate assessment of a gross contingent gas resource of 6.6 TCF for the Middle Velkerri B shale pool surrounding and adjacent to the Amungee NW-1H exploration well are exciting developments for Falcon. Additional exploration and appraisal activity will be required to refine the pool size and better assess the recoverable resource range and ultimately the commerciality of the play. However, it is interesting to note that in Origin's opinion the Marcellus and Barnett Shales in the USA are analogous, commercially-productive fields that are similar to the Middle Velkerri B Shale reservoir." Please refer to Appendix A for a copy of Origin's ASX/Media Release "Beetaloo Basin drill results indicate material gas resource". This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation 596/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Further information relating to disclosure of resources Certain information in this press release may constitute forward-looking information. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking information. Forward-looking information typically contains statements with words such as "may", "will", "should", "expect", "intend", "plan", "anticipate", "believe", "estimate", "projects", "potential", "scheduled", "forecast", "outlook", "budget", "hope", "support" or the negative of those terms or similar words suggesting future outcomes. This information is based on current expectations that are subject to significant risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Such information may include, but is not limited to, comments made with respect to the type, number, schedule, stimulating, testing and objectives of the wells to be drilled in the Beetaloo basin Australia, the prospectivity of the Middle Velkerri play and the prospect of the exploration programme being brought to commerciality, risks associated with the introduction of a moratorium, fluctuations in market prices for shale gas; risks related to the exploration, development and production of shale gas reserves; general economic, market and business conditions; substantial capital requirements; uncertainties inherent in estimating quantities of reserves and resources; extent of, and cost of compliance with, government laws and regulations and the effect of changes in such laws and regulations; the need to obtain regulatory approvals before development commences; environmental risks and hazards and the cost of compliance with environmental regulations; aboriginal claims; inherent risks and hazards with operations such as mechanical or pipe failure, cratering and other dangerous conditions; potential cost overruns; variations in foreign exchange rates; competition for capital, equipment, new leases, pipeline capacity and skilled personnel; the failure of the holder of licenses, leases and permits to meet requirements of such; changes in royalty regimes; failure to accurately estimate abandonment and reclamation costs; inaccurate estimates and assumptions by management and their joint venture partners; effectiveness of internal controls; the potential lack of available drilling equipment; failure to obtain or keep key personnel; title deficiencies; geo-political risks; and risk of litigation. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of important factors is not exhaustive and that these factors and risks are difficult to predict. Actual results might differ materially from results suggested in any forward-looking statements. Falcon assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those reflected in the forward looking-statements unless and until required by securities laws applicable to Falcon. Additional information identifying risks and uncertainties is contained in Falcon's filings with the Canadian securities regulators, which filings are available at www.sedar.com, including under "Risk Factors" in the Annual Information Form. This announcement has been reviewed by Dr. Gábor Bada, Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd's Head of Technical Operations. Dr. Bada obtained his geology degree at the Eötvös L. University in Budapest, Hungary and his PhD at the Vrije Aniversiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is a member of AAPG and EAGE. Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd is an international oil & gas company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of conventional and unconventional oil and gas assets, with the current portfolio focused in Australia, South Africa and Hungary. Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd is incorporated in British Columbia, Canada and headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with a technical team based in Budapest, Hungary. For further information on Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. please visit www.falconoilandgas.com Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) is the leading Australian integrated energy company with market leading positions in energy retailing (approximately 4.3 million customers), power generation (approximately 6,000 MW of capacity owned and contracted) and natural gas production (1,093 PJ of 2P reserves and annual production of 82 PJe). To match its leadership in the supply of green energy, Origin also aspires to be the number one renewables company in Australia. Through Australia Pacific LNG, its incorporated joint venture with ConocoPhillips and Sinopec, Origin is developing Australia's biggest CSG to LNG project based on the country's largest 2P CSG reserves base. Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. To view Appendix A - Origin's ASX/Media Release, please visit the following link:


Turnbull C.,Macquarie University | Hoggard S.,Macquarie University | Gillings M.,Macquarie University | Palmer C.,Northern Territory Government | And 6 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2011

We hypothesize that aggregations of animals are likely to attract pathogenic micro-organisms and that this is especially the case for semisocial and eusocial insects where selection ultimately led to group sizes in the thousands or even millions, attracting the epithet 'superorganism'. Here, we analyse antimicrobial strength, per individual, in eight thrips species (Insecta: Thysanoptera) that present increasing innate group sizes and show that species with the largest group size (100-700) had the strongest antimicrobials, those with smaller groups (10-80) had lower antimicrobial activity, while solitary species showed none. Species with large innate group sizes showed strong antimicrobial activity while the semisocial species showed no activity until group size increased sufficiently to make activity detectable. The eusocial species behaved in a similar way, with detectable activity appearing once group size exceeded 120. These analyses show that antimicrobial strength is determined by innate group size. This suggests that the evolution of sociality that, by definition, increases group size, may have had particular requirements for defences against microbial pathogens. Thus, increase in group size, accompanied by increased antibiotic strength, may have been a critical factor determining the 'point of no return', early in the evolution of social insects, beyond which the evolution of social anatomical and morphological traits was irreversible. Our data suggest that traits that increase group size in general are accompanied by increased antimicrobial strength and that this was critical for transitions from solitary to social and eusocial organization. © 2011 The Royal Society.


Smerdon B.D.,CSIRO | Payton Gardner W.,CSIRO | Payton Gardner W.,Sandia National Laboratories | Harrington G.A.,CSIRO | Tickell S.J.,Northern Territory Government
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2012

A mixture of older regional-scale groundwater flow and relatively modern local-scale groundwater was identified as the source of baseflow to a perennial river in a tropical savanna. Multiple environmental tracers, including 222Rn, CFCs, SF 6, and 4He were measured in the river, groundwater, and springs along a 60km segment of the Daly River in the Northern Territory of Australia. At the location where a group of springs intersected the river, groundwater discharge contained elevated 4He and very low concentrations of CFCs and SF 6. This influx of regional-scale groundwater could be detected at downstream locations in the river and was used to parameterize a one-dimensional model for estimating the groundwater discharge flux. Upstream and downstream of the springs, the source of baseflow is composed of waters containing SF 6 and CFCs from local-scale groundwater sources adjacent to the river. Within 1km of the river, a redox fence was detected, with reducing conditions leading to degradation of CFCs that could have masked detecting the contribution of local-scale sources. This study confirmed the applicability of a new technique using 4He to identify regional-scale groundwater flow contributions to rivers, and demonstrated that multi-tracer studies are needed to identify the locations, rates, and sources of baseflow. © 2012.


Braby M.F.,Northern Territory Government | Braby M.F.,Australian National University
Northern Territory Naturalist | Year: 2013

The geographical distribution is reviewed and/or new spatial data are given for 15 species of butterflies and diurnal moths from the Top End of the Northern Territory. Three species of day-flying moths, the Zodiac Moth (Alcides metaurus) (family Uraniidae), Mimeusemia centralis (Noctuidae) and Euchromia creusa (Arctiidae), are recorded from the Northern Territory for the first time. Two extant locations of the Purple Beak butterfly (Libythea geoffroyi) from Fish River Station and Gregory National Park represent the first confirmed resident breeding populations of this species in the Northern Territory. The Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is recorded for the first time from the Top End and western Gulf Country where a large-scale range expansion occurred during April-May 2013; other records from the Darwin area comprise intentional introductions facilitated by 'butterfly releases'. New records of the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) and Northern Argus (Junonia erigone) suggest these species have limited ranges in northern Australia; both are considered to be rare vagrants or immigrants from Indonesia, East Timor, or adjacent islands. The White Migrant (Catopsilia pyranthe) appears to be a rare seasonal migrant to the Darwin area and nearby locations from further inland. The White-banded Line-blue (Nacaduba kurava) is confirmed as occurring in the Darwin area. The Samphire Blue (Theclinesthes sulpitius) and the Glistening Line-blue (Sahulana scintillata) are newly recorded from the western Gulf of Carpentaria and Gove Peninsula, respectively, extending their distribution considerably further east in the Top End. In contrast, the Plumbago Blue (Leptotes plinius) is considered to be erroneous, and accordingly this species is removed from the lepidopteran inventory for the Top End. The Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), No-brand Grass-yellow (Eurema brigitta) and Lurcher (Yoma sabina) have narrower ranges within the Northern Territory than previously suspected, being restricted to north-eastern Arnhem Land and/or the Gulf of Carpentaria. Within the Top End, six species, including the Gove Crow (Euploea alcathoe enastri), are restricted to northeastern Arnhem Land, but three others, A. metaurus, E. brigitta, and Red-banded Jezebel (Delias mysis), are probably rare vagrants from northern Queensland.


News Article | April 6, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

A remote solar-diesel hybrid mini-grid that is being used to power a remote indigenous community in northern Australia will soon be fitted with battery storage, after German energy storage expert Qinous won the tender to supply and install a 1,987kWh lithium-ion system. The tender was awarded by local energy provider Power and Water Corporation, who commissioned the construction of the hybrid system at the Daly River community as part of a four-year, $55 million plan to transform the energy supply of Indigenous communities in the Australia’s Northern Territory. The new battery system will store the excess solar energy generated by the hybrid plant, while also providing the grid-forming functions of the diesel generators, which to date have been the only source of power for communities like that at Daly River. Dow Airen, Power and Water’s senior project manager said the Qinous tender was selected as a “technically and commercially compelling” solution to the remote power problem. As Qinous’ Steffen Heinrich noted in a statement on the project, “the operation of diesel generators is not only expensive for Power and Water, but is also a burden for the environment because of air pollution and spill risks. The lithium-ion battery will allow the current diesel generators to be switched off completely during the day, increasing the use of “affordable and clean” renewable energy, he said. Overall, the goal is for around 30 communities to be equipped with hybrid solar and storage, as part of the Solar SETuP scheme that is jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Northern Territory Government. “We look forward to realising the battery system together with Qinous… we are always looking for innovative solutions to provide power to our most remote residents,” said PWC’s Airen. A factory acceptance test of the battery system is planned for June, and the project is scheduled to go into operation in October 2016.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: phys.org

Lead researcher Dr Paul Oliver from ANU said the velvet gecko Oedura luritja from the iconic ranges of Central Australia had been hiding in plain sight. "The gecko lives in popular tourist sites such as Kings Canyon and Palm Valley, and had been confused with other similar-looking species," said Dr Oliver from the ANU Research School of Biology. He said genetics indicated this gecko had no close living relatives. "We estimate Oedura luritja separated from all living relatives about 10 million years ago. This corresponds well with other evidence that deserts were expanding across Australia at this time," Dr Oliver said. "Many plants and animals have isolated populations in the ranges of Central Australia, but recent work has revealed that these species are closely related to or the same as species living elsewhere in Australia - in some cases may have actually been moved there by people." Dr Oliver said the Oedura luritja gecko told a very different story. "This suggests this gecko may have been isolated by this initial aridification of Australia long ago, and then persisted in its rocky refuge for millions of years. It is what we know as a relict species - something left behind after all its relatives have died out," he said. The discovery of the new gecko species also solved a 40-year-old mystery, Dr Oliver said. "Former ANU researcher Robert Bustard noticed an unusual population of velvet geckos living in the Mereenie Sandstones of the MacDonnell Ranges, south of Alice Springs. But he was not sure just how significant the scale and colour differences this population showed were," he said. To resolve this mystery, Dr Oliver worked with Peter McDonald from the Northern Territory Government and Indigenous Rangers in Central Australia. The research team determined the evolutionary relationships between the Oedura luritja gecko and other geckos in Central Australia and elsewhere. They also analysed museum collections of gecko specimens from the 1960s and 1970s. The Oedura lurita, named after Aboriginal people from the region where it lives, is a large purple gecko with distinctive yellow spots and bands. Explore further: Resilient geckos crop up in the northwest of Australia More information: Paul M. Oliver et al. Young relicts and old relicts: a novel palaeoendemic vertebrate from the Australian Central Uplands, Royal Society Open Science (2016). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160018


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.rdmag.com

Researchers have discovered an ancient species of gecko in the ranges of Central Australia which may shine new light on how and when Australia's deserts began to form millions of year ago. Lead researcher Dr Paul Oliver from ANU said the velvet gecko Oedura luritja from the iconic ranges of Central Australia had been hiding in plain sight. "The gecko lives in popular tourist sites such as Kings Canyon and Palm Valley, and had been confused with other similar-looking species," said Dr Oliver from the ANU Research School of Biology. He said genetics indicated this gecko had no close living relatives. "We estimate Oedura luritja separated from all living relatives about 10 million years ago. This corresponds well with other evidence that deserts were expanding across Australia at this time," Dr Oliver said. "Many plants and animals have isolated populations in the ranges of Central Australia, but recent work has revealed that these species are closely related to or the same as species living elsewhere in Australia - in some cases may have actually been moved there by people." Dr Oliver said the Oedura luritja gecko told a very different story. "This suggests this gecko may have been isolated by this initial aridification of Australia long ago, and then persisted in its rocky refuge for millions of years. It is what we know as a relict species - something left behind after all its relatives have died out," he said. The discovery of the new gecko species also solved a 40-year-old mystery, Dr Oliver said. "Former ANU researcher Robert Bustard noticed an unusual population of velvet geckos living in the Mereenie Sandstones of the MacDonnell Ranges, south of Alice Springs. But he was not sure just how significant the scale and colour differences this population showed were," he said. To resolve this mystery, Dr Oliver worked with Peter McDonald from the Northern Territory Government and Indigenous Rangers in Central Australia. The research team determined the evolutionary relationships between the Oedura luritjagecko and other geckos in Central Australia and elsewhere. They also analysed museum collections of gecko specimens from the 1960s and 1970s. The Oedura lurita, named after Aboriginal people from the region where it lives, is a large purple gecko with distinctive yellow spots and bands.

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