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A key conservation issue in north-western Australia is recent declines in biodiversity, especially among the nationally threatened critical weight range (35g-5kg) mammals. Changed fire regimes are implicated as a cause of these declines, but it is unclear whether declines are related to fire, or to other key threatening processes. In this review, historical and scientific evidence for fire driven declines are examined and critically evaluated. Data suggest we cannot confidently attribute biodiversity declines to fire based on available evidence. This is because historical evidence is circumstantial only, and because scientific evidence showing changes in abundance relating to fire regime may not relate to regional scale declines and range contractions. A way forward in understanding factors driving declines is investigation of key mechanisms underlying fire effects. The importance of correct diagnosis of mechanisms is emphasised as incorrect assumptions can lead to inappropriate management of declining species. Three hypotheses about key mechanisms are raised based on general conservation biology approaches for threatened species, and also on evidence gained from northern Australia ecological studies. These are 1) that declines are driven by increased predation mortality through repeated removal and simplification of vegetation cover by severe fire regimes; 2) that declines are driven by resource limitations caused by too frequent fires; and 3) that declines are driven by failure to retain sufficient source breeding populations in optimal habitats (e.g. unburnt patches) within savanna landscapes for the continued persistence of firesensitive species. I suggest prescribed burning operations should aim to explicitly retain long unburnt vegetation patches (>3 years, >1 ha) frequently within the landscape. Our lack of knowledge of key mechanisms driving declines, and evidence that threatened species are fire-sensitive, suggests that indiscriminate application of fire mosaics may be harmful to some threatened species. © The Government of Western Australia, 2010. Source

Yu L.-X.,WA | Rodringuez J.,Forage Genetics International Inc.
Molecular Plant Pathology | Year: 2016

Verticillium wilt (VW) is a fungal disease that causes severe yield losses in alfalfa. The most effective method to control the disease is through the development and use of resistant varieties. The identification of marker loci linked to VW resistance can facilitate breeding for disease-resistant alfalfa. In the present investigation, we applied an integrated framework of genome-wide association with genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) to identify VW resistance loci in a panel of elite alfalfa breeding lines. Phenotyping was performed by manual inoculation of the pathogen to healthy seedlings, and scoring for disease resistance was carried out according to the standard test of the North America Alfalfa Improvement Conference (NAAIC). Marker-trait association by linkage disequilibrium identified 10 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers significantly associated with VW resistance. Alignment of the SNP marker sequences to the M. truncatula genome revealed multiple quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Three, two, one and five markers were located on chromosomes 5, 6, 7 and 8, respectively. Resistance loci found on chromosomes 7 and 8 in the present study co-localized with the QTLs reported previously. A pairwise alignment (blastn) using the flanking sequences of the resistance loci against the M. truncatula genome identified potential candidate genes with putative disease resistance function. With further investigation, these markers may be implemented into breeding programmes using marker-assisted selection, ultimately leading to improved VW resistance in alfalfa. © 2016 BSPP AND JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD. Source

Peace M.,University of Adelaide | McCaw L.,WA | Mills G.,University of Adelaide
Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal | Year: 2012

From time to time, bushfires exhibit fire behaviour that was never anticipated in the prevailing environmental conditions. The Layman fuel-reduction burn, in scenic southwest Western Australia, was one such fire. The burn was ignited in mid-October 2010 in benign weather conditions. Late morning on the day following ignition, fire activity escalated rapidly; a convection column developed with a deep vertical circulation that extended from the surface to a height of 4 km. The ensuing intense fire with tall flames caused extensive crown scorch and defoliation, and resulted in concerns about the safety of rural communities adjoining the planned burn. The observations and meteorological model data indicate that the intense fire activity was driven by a combination of meteorological processes not routinely assessed in fire environments. Low-level sea breeze convergence in the wind field, combined with potential instability in the presence of FireCAPE, entrainment of dry air from aloft desiccating already climatologically dry fuels and vertical circulation on a frontal change were all present. The dramatic development of the Layman burn shows how meteorological processes not currently embedded in fire science may produce an environment conducive to intense fire activity. The ways in which fire managers might incorporate innovative meteorological products identified in this paper in order to mitigate against such events in the future are discussed. Source

David S.,King Edward Memorial Hospital | Fenwick J.,University of Technology, Sydney | Bayes S.,Curtin University Australia | Martin T.,WA
Women and Birth | Year: 2010

Background: The 'Next Birth After Caesarean' (NBAC) clinic is a dedicated service for women who have had a previous caesarean section. The midwifery-led clinic commenced at a tertiary hospital in Western Australia in 2008. As part of this service, access to a midwife via telephone is available. Aim: This paper aims to provide maternity health care providers with an increased understanding of, and insight into, the different information needs of this specific group of maternity care consumers. Methods: A qualitative descriptive approach was used to analyse the content of 170 telephone calls made by women to the NBAC clinic over a period of 16 months (July 2008-November 2009). Results: Six distinct categories of calls were elicited from the analysis process with the majority of calls related to women seeking information and support about the option of vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC). These were labeled: 'Wanting and seeking a VBAC'; 'Is VBAC a possiblility?'; 'Seeking clarification and cross-checking information in the face of opposition'; 'Existing NBAC clients checking in/checking out'; 'Feeling distressed and disappointed; wanting to talk' and 'Professional inquiry about NBAC service'. Discussion: It is acknowledged that women require access to non-biased information to be able to make informed decisions about birth after caesarean. However there remains limited evidence on the precise informational needs of these women. It appears from our findings that this particular group of maternity service consumers requires opportunities to discuss their particular needs within the context of their individual childbearing experiences. Conclusion: Preliminary evidence is provided that a telephone service led by midwives may be one effective strategy to meet women's informational needs and address decisional conflict in relation to options for birth after a caesarean section. © 2010 Australian College of Midwives. Source

Britt J.W.,WA
Health promotion practice | Year: 2011

In 2007, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department launched a restaurant menu labeling project called SmartMenu. The objective was to recruit locally owned restaurants to voluntarily post basic nutrition information on their menus or menu boards. Participating restaurants submitted recipes to an independent contractor for nutritional analysis and agreed to post calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and sodium values on new menus within 90 days of receiving results. Vigorous recruitment efforts by the Health Department between June 2007 and September 2008 included free advertising, consultation with a Registered Dietitian, and free nutritional analysis. By the end of 2008, a total of 24 restaurants participated in the program. Significant barriers to participation included infrequent use of standardized recipes, perceived business risk of labeling, and low perceived customer demand for nutrition information. Key program elements, recruitment strategies, and costs are discussed. Results have important implications for future efforts to increase the adoption of menu labeling by locally owned and operated restaurants. Source

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