Australian Research Council (ARC)

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This is a collection of ARC-funded research publications authored by Flinders academics.


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Now showing 1 - 20 of 89
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    A new method for reconstructing brain morphology: applying the brain-neurocranial spatial relationship in an extant lungfish to a fossil endocast
    (The Royal Society, 2016) Clement, Alice M; Strand, R; Nysjo, J; Long, John A; Ahlberg, Per E
    Lungfish first appeared in the geological record over 410 million years ago and are the closest living group of fish to the tetrapods. Palaeoneurological investigations into the group show that unlike numerous other fishes—but more similar to those in tetrapods—lungfish appear to have had a close fit between the brain and the cranial cavity that housed it. As such, researchers can use the endocast of fossil taxa (an internal cast of the cranial cavity) both as a source of morphological data but also to aid in developing functional and phylogenetic implications about the group. Using fossil endocast data from a three-dimensional-preserved Late Devonian lungfish from the Gogo Formation, Rhinodipterus, and the brain-neurocranial relationship in the extant Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus, we herein present the first virtually reconstructed brain of a fossil lungfish. Computed tomographic data and a newly developed ‘brain-warping’ method are used in conjunction with our own distance map software tool to both analyse and present the data. The brain reconstruction is adequate, but we envisage that its accuracy and wider application in other taxonomic groups will grow with increasing availability of tomographic datasets.
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    Terrestrial freshwater lenses in stable riverine settings: Occurrence and controlling factors
    (American Geophysical Union, 2016-05-13) Werner, Adrian D; Laattoe, Tariq
    Rivers in arid and semiarid regions often traverse saline aquifers, creating buoyant freshwater lenses in the adjoining riparian and floodplain zones. The occurrence of freshwater lenses where the river is otherwise gaining saline groundwater appears counterintuitive, given that both hydraulic and density forces act toward the river. In this paper, an analytical solution is presented that defines the extent of a stable, sharp-interface terrestrial freshwater lens (in cross section) in a riverine environment that otherwise contains saline groundwater moving toward the river. The method is analogous to the situation of an island freshwater lens, except in the riverine setting, the saltwater is mobile and the lens is assumed to be stagnant. The solution characterizes the primary controlling factors of riverine freshwater lenses, which are larger for situations involving lower hydraulic conductivities and rates of saltwater discharge to the river. Deeper aquifers, more transmissive riverbeds, and larger freshwater-saltwater density differences produce more extensive lenses. The analytical solution predicts the parameter combinations that preclude the occurrence of freshwater lenses. The utility of the solution as a screening method to predict the occurrence of terrestrial freshwater lenses is demonstrated by application to parameter ranges typical of the South Australian portion of the River Murray, where freshwater lenses occur in only a portion of the neighboring floodplains. Despite assumptions of equilibrium conditions and a sharp freshwater-saltwater interface, the solution for predicting the occurrence of riverine freshwater lenses presented in this study has immediate relevance to the management of floodplains in which freshwater lenses are integral to biophysical conditions.
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    Distributions of Virus-Like Particles and Prokaryotes within Microenvironments
    (Public Library of Science, 2016) Dann, Lisa M; Paterson, James; Newton, Kelly; Oliver, Rod L; Mitchell, James Gordon
    Microbial interactions are important for ecosystem function, but occur at the microscale and so are difficult to observe. Previous studies in marine systems have shown significant shifts in microbial community abundance and composition over scales of micrometres to centimetres. This study investigates the microscale abundance distributions of virus-like particles (VLPs) and prokaryotes in the lower reaches of a river to determine the extent to which microscale microbial patchiness exists in freshwater systems. Here we report local hotspots surrounded by gradients that reach a maximum 80 and 107 fold change in abundance over 0.9 cm for prokaryotic and VLP subpopulations. Changes in prokaryotic and VLP hotspots were tightly coupled. There were no gradients at tens of centimetres across the boundary layers, which is consistent with strong mixing and turbulence-driven aggregation found in river systems. Quantification of the patchiness shows a marked asymmetry with patches 10 times greater than background common, but depletions being rare or absent in most samples. This consistent asymmetry suggests that coldspots depleted by grazing and lysis are rapidly mixed to background concentrations, while the prevalence of hotspots indicates persistence against disruption. The hotspot to coldspot relative abundance may be useful for understanding microbial river dynamics. The patchiness indicates that the mean- field approach of bulk phase sampling misses the microbially relevant community variation and may underestimate the concentrations of these important microbial groups.
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    Osteology Supports a Stem-Galliform Affinity for the Giant Extinct Flightless Bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Sylviornithidae, Galloanseres)
    (Public Library of Science, 2016) Worthy, Trevor; Mitri, Miyess; Handley, Warren; Lee, Michael S Y; Anderson, Atholl; Sand, Christophe
    The giant flightless bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Aves: Sylviornithidae) existed on La Grande Terre and Ile des Pins, New Caledonia, until the late Holocene when it went extinct shortly after human arrival on these islands. The species was generally considered to be a megapode (Megapodiidae) until the family Sylviornithidae was erected for it in 2005 to reflect multiple cranial autapomorphies. However, despite thousands of bones having been reported for this unique and enigmatic taxon, the postcranial anatomy has remained largely unknown.We rectify this deficiency and describe the postcranial skeleton of S. neocaledoniae based on ~600 fossils and use data from this and its cranial anatomy to make a comprehensive assessment of its phylogenetic affinities. Sylviornis neocaledoniae is found to be a stem galliform, distant from megapodiids, and the sister taxon to the extinct flightless Megavitiornis altirostris from Fiji, which we transfer to the family Sylviornithidae. These two species form the sister group to extant crown-group galliforms. Several other fossil galloanseres also included in the phylogenetic analysis reveal novel hypotheses of their relationships as follows: Dromornis planei (Dromornithidae) is recovered as a stem galliform rather than a stem anseriform; Presbyornis pervetus (Presbyornithidae) is the sister group to Anseranatidae, not to Anatidae; Vegavis iaai is a crown anseriform but remains unresolved relative to Presbyornis pervetus, Anseranatidae and Anatidae. Sylviornis neocaledoniae was reconstructed herein to be 0.8 m tall in a resting stance and weigh 27–34 kg. The postcranial anatomy of S. neocaledoniae shows no indication of the specialised adaptation to digging seen in megapodiids, with for example, its ungual morphology differing little from that of chicken Gallus gallus. These observations and its phylogenetic placement as stem galliforms makes it improbable that this species employed ectothermic incubation or was a mound-builder. Sylviornis neocaledoniae can therefore be excluded as the constructor of tumuli in New Caledonia.
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    Indigenous Sistergirls’ Experiences of Family and Community
    (Taylor & Francis, 2016-05-09) Riggs, Damien Wayne; Toone, K
    While increasing attention has been paid to the experiences of Indigenous sistergirls over the past decade there still remains a dearth of empirical research on the experiences of this diverse population of Indigenous people. This paper seeks to add to the small body of existing literature by reporting on a thematic analysis of existing media in which 18 sistergirls shared their experiences of family and community. The thematic analysis identified two themes within each of these topics. Specifically, when talking about family, both familial acceptance and rejection were salient themes. When talking about community, both the traditional role of sistergirls in their communities and negative responses from communities were salient themes. The paper concludes by suggesting that increased knowledge about the lives of sistergirls may assist social workers in supporting sistergirls both in their own outreach endeavours, and in providing more culturally competent services.
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    Exploring trans and gender diverse issues in primary education in South Australia
    (Flinders University, 2016) Bartholomaeus, Clare; Riggs, Damien Wayne; Andrew, Yarrow
    Executive Summary An increasing number of young children identify with a gender that differs from that normatively expected of their natally-assigned sex (e.g. Smith & Matthews, 2015; Telfer, Tollit, & Feldman, 2015). Such young children tend to be referred to as trans or gender diverse. The term ‘trans’ is typically used to refer to people whose gender or gender expression differs from that normatively expected of their natally-assigned sex (where those born with a penis are assigned male and expected to act in stereotypically masculine ways or to present themselves as male, and where those born with a vagina are assigned female and expected to act in stereotypically feminine ways or to present themselves as female). The term ‘gender diverse’ is typically used to refer to people whose gender identity is not encompassed by the two categories ‘male’ or ‘female’. Importantly, the terms ‘trans’ and ‘gender diverse’ encompass a wide range of gender expressions. While population studies suggest that between 0.5% and 1% of people are trans or gender diverse (Clark et al., 2014; Conron, Scott, Stowell, & Landers, 2012), it has been suggested that figures of gender diversity are significantly higher during childhood (Möller, Schreier, Li, & Romer, 2009). Brill and Pepper (2008) argue that there are three typical ages when people acknowledge that they are trans or gender diverse: childhood, preteen/early adolescence, and late adolescence. For children who disclose that they are trans or gender diverse, the likelihood of having their gender affirmed by others is closely related to people’s understandings of gender diversity. Schools constitute a key context in which children may disclose that they are trans or gender diverse, thus highlighting the importance of schools providing affirming and informed responses. However, research with parents of trans and gender diverse primary school children suggests that a key barrier to inclusion in schools relates to staff members’ understandings of gender, and whether issues of gender diversity are viewed as taboo or are positively included within school policies and practices (Pullen Sansfaçon, Robichaud, & Dumais-Michaud, 2015). Australian research with students at the secondary level has clearly documented trans and gender diverse students’ negative experiences of school and the implications of this for their well-being (Jones & Hillier, 2013; Jones et al., 2016; Smith et al., 2014; Ullman, 2015). Australian research with parents of trans children, including at the primary level, has emphasised the importance of supportive schools, and the negative impact of gender stereotyping in schools (Riley, Sitharthan, Clemson, & Diamond, 2013), including by school counsellors and psychologists (Riggs & Bartholomaeus, 2015). The important role that schools can play is currently hindered in Australia by two key issues: 1) the lack of opportunities for educator professional development and support for working with trans and gender diverse students, and 2) the broader climate of misunderstanding and fear, evidenced in recent debates about the Safe Schools Coalition. The research documented in this report extends the limited amount of research about trans and gender diverse issues in primary education internationally. Rather than focusing on individual trans and gender diverse students, the research examines broader school cultures in relation to educator attitudes and knowledge and the usefulness of classroom resources in the form of picture books for creating inclusive schools. The project received ethics approval from Flinders University and the Department for Education and Child Development. The research objectives of the project were to: 1. Identify the existing attitudes and knowledge of in-service and pre-service primary school teachers in South Australia about trans and gender diverse students and issues 2. Audit available picture books featuring trans or gender diverse characters 3. Explore the usefulness of picture books which include trans characters for use in primary classrooms by examining students’ understandings 4. Create an online resource with information for supporting trans and gender diverse young people An online survey examining attitudes towards inclusion, comfort, and confidence in relation to trans and gender diverse students was completed by a sample of South Australian primary school teachers (n = 75) and pre-service teachers (n = 105). Findings between the two cohorts were very similar. The findings from both groups overall suggest that women had more positive attitudes and greater comfort in working with trans and gender diverse students, and that those who had previously worked with a trans or gender diverse student and who had undertaken training had more positive attitudes, greater comfort, and greater confidence in working with trans and gender diverse students. An audit of picture books featuring trans or gender diverse characters found that there were 34 such books in existence. Twenty of these books focus on trans characters specifically, while 14 focus on various forms of gender diversity. Of those books currently in existence, only three are Australian. The books provide an array of different storylines and relationships which may be useful for exploring with trans and gender diverse children as well as whole classes of children. However, the books often draw on gender stereotypes, reflecting broader cultural representations and understandings of trans and gender diverse people. Picture books featuring trans characters were explored in book reading sessions with one class of junior primary school students in a government school in South Australia. These books were useful for encouraging discussion and exploration of trans and gender diverse people’s lives. The issues raised in the books were not always clear to the students, although their understandings appeared to grow over the sessions and they were often supportive of the characters. Overall, the salience of hair and clothing in determining gender was central, and many students viewed gender as something fundamental. In some ways the students reiterated the framings of the books in terms of the constructions of binaries (girl/boy) and gender-typed clothing and hair length. Drawing on these three sources of data, the report concludes with recommendations for developing inclusive school cultures, with a focus on making professional development, resources, and support available to educators. The findings from the three studies highlight the need for: 1. The provision of ongoing teacher education, as professional development and within universities 2. Additional resourcing of programs aimed at facilitating inclusion, such as the Safe Schools Coalition 3. DECD-sanctioned policies and guidelines to support teachers and schools to create inclusive whole school cultures 4. Increase in provision of resources to learn about gender diversity, such as picture books in school libraries, and clearer teaching guides for how to use these in class.
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    Early Miocene fossil frogs (Anura: Leiopelmatidae) from New Zealand.
    (Taylor & Francis, 2013) Worthy, Trevor; Tennyson, Alan J D; Scofield, R Paul; Hand, Suzanne J
    The first pre-Quaternary anurans from New Zealand are reported from the Early Miocene (19–16 Ma) St Bathans Fauna based on 10 fossil bones. Four bones representing two new species differing in size are described in Leiopelma: Leiopelmatidae, and are the first Tertiary records for the family. Six indeterminate frog fossils are morphologically similar to leiopelmatids and represent two species consistent in size with those known from diagnostic material. These records are highly significant, as minimally, they reduce the duration of the leiopelmatid ‘ghost lineage’ by c.20 million years and demonstrate that a diversity of leiopelmatids has long been present on New Zealand, supporting the ancient dichotomy of the extant species based on molecular data.
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    A bittern (Aves: Ardeidae) from the Early Miocene of New Zealand
    (Springer Verlag, 2013) Worthy, Trevor; Worthy, Jennifer P; Tennyson, Alan J D; Scofield, R Paul
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    Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution
    (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014-05-23) Mitchell, Kieren J; Llamas, Bastien; Soubrier, Julien; Rawlence, Nicolas J; Worthy, Trevor; Wood, Jamie; Lee, Michael S Y; Cooper, Alan
    The evolution of the ratite birds has been widely attributed to vicariant speciation, driven by the Cretaceous breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. The early isolation of Africa and Madagascar implies that the ostrich and extinct Madagascan elephant birds (Aepyornithidae) should be the oldest ratite lineages. We sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of two elephant birds and performed phylogenetic analyses, which revealed that these birds are the closest relatives of the New Zealand kiwi and are distant from the basal ratite lineage of ostriches. This unexpected result strongly contradicts continental vicariance and instead supports flighted dispersal in all major ratite lineages. We suggest that convergence toward gigantism and flightlessness was facilitated by early Tertiary expansion into the diurnal herbivory niche after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
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    Is the “Genyornis” egg of a mihirung or another extinct bird from the Australian dreamtime?
    (Elsevier, 2016-02-01) Grellet-Tinner, G; Spooner, N A; Worthy, Trevor
    The iconic Australian Genyornis newtoni (Dromornithidae, Aves) is the sole Pleistocene member of an avian clade now hypothesized to be alternatively in Anseriformes or the sister group of crown Galloanseres. A distinctive type of fossil eggshell commonly found in eroding sand dunes, has been referred to Genyornis newtoni since the 1980s. The 126 by 97 mm Spooner Egg, dated at 54.7 ± 3.1 ka by optical dating of its enclosing sediments, is a complete specimen of this eggshell type that was reconstructed from fragments of a broken egg. We show that the size of the eggs from which this ‘Genyornis’ eggshell derives, either as predicted from measurements of fragments, or as indicated by the Spooner Egg, is unexpectedly small given the size of G. newtoni, which has an estimated mass of 275 kg, or about seven times the mass of the emu that has a similar sized egg. We compared the microstructure of the putative Genyornis eggshell to that of other dromornithids and a range of galloanseriform taxa using several microcharacterisation techniques. The ‘Genyornis’ eggshell displays a mosaic of oological characters that do not unambiguously support referral to any known modern bird. Its shell structure, coupled with chemical compounds in the accessory layer, makes it unlikely to have been laid by a dromornithid, whereas several characters support a megapode origin. A potential candidate for the bird that laid the putative ‘Genyornis’ eggs in the Pleistocene fossil avifaunal record has been ignored: Progura, a genus of extinct giant megapodes, whose species were widespread in Australia. Regression of egg size of megapodes and body mass shows that the Spooner Egg approximates the expected size for eggs laid by species of Progura. We advance the suggestion that the fossil eggshell hitherto referred to Genyornis newtoni, is more likely to have been laid by species of the giant extinct Progura. As megapodes, the species of Progura were obligate ectothermic incubators, which we suggest laid their eggs into a hole dug in sand like the modern megapode Macrocephalon maleo, thus explaining the abundant ‘Genyornis’ eggshell in sand dunes. Referral of this eggshell to Progura means that the fossil record of Genyornis newtoni is limited to bones and the timing of the extinction of this last dromornithid is unknown. In addition, structural similarities of eggshell in megapodes, the putative Genyornis eggshell and dromornithids, raise the possibility that these taxa are phylogenetically more closely related to each other than any is to anseriforms. Specifically, this means that dromornithids might be a sister group to galliforms rather than to or within anseriforms.
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    Miocene fossils show that kiwi (Apteryx, Apterygidae) are probably not phyletic dwarves
    (Verlag Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, 2013) Worthy, Trevor; Worthy, Jennifer P; Tennyson, Alan J D; Salisbury, Steven W; Hand, Suzanne J; Scofield, R Paul
    Until now, kiwi (Apteryx, Apterygidae) have had no pre-Quaternary fossil record to inform on the timing of their arrival in New Zealand or on their inter-ratite relationships. Here we describe two fossils in a new genus of apterygid from Early Miocene sediments at St Bathans, Central Otago, minimally dated to 19–16 Ma. The new fossils indicate a markedly smaller and possibly volant bird, supporting a possible overwater dispersal origin to New Zealand of kiwi independent of moa. If the common ancestor of this early Miocene apterygid species and extant kiwi was similarly small and volant, then the phyletic dwarfing hypothesis to explain relatively small body size of kiwi compared with other ratites is incorrect. Apteryx includes five extant species distributed on North, South, Stewart and the nearshore islands of New Zealand. They are nocturnal, flightless and comparatively large birds, 1–3 kg, with morphological attributes that reveal an affinity with ratites, but others, such as their long bill, that differ markedly from all extant members of that clade. Although kiwi were long considered most closely related to sympatric moa (Dinornithiformes), all recent analyses of molecular data support a closer affinity to Australian ratites (Casuariidae). Usually assumed to have a vicariant origin in New Zealand (ca 80–60 Ma), a casuariid sister group relationship for kiwi, wherein the common ancestor was volant, would more easily allow a more recent arrival via overwater dispersal.
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    A Plains-wanderer (Pedionomidae) that did not wander plains: a new species from the Oligocene of South Australia
    (John Wiley & Sons, inc., 2014-11-03) De Pietri, Vanessa L; Camens, Aaron; Worthy, Trevor
    The remarkable fauna of Australia evolved in isolation from other landmasses for millions of years, yet understanding the evolutionary history of endemic avian lineages on the continent is confounded by the ability of birds to disperse over geographical barriers even after vicariance events. The Plains-wanderer Pedionomus torquatus (Charadriiformes) is an enigmatic, predominantly sedentary, quail-like bird that occurs exclusively in sparse native grasslands of south-eastern Australia. It is the only known species of its family (Pedionomidae), and its closest relatives are the South American seedsnipes (Thinocoridae). Here we describe a further representative of this lineage, Oligonomus milleri gen. et sp. nov. from the Late Oligocene of South Australia (26–24 Ma), which predates the earliest record of P. torquatus by ca. 22 Ma and attests to the presence of this lineage during Australia's period of isolation (50-15 Ma). Based on the morphology of the coracoid and the palynological record, we propose that O. milleri and P. torquatus were ecologically disparate taxa, and that similar to coeval marsupials, O. milleri inhabited well-wooded habitats, suggesting that the preference for grassland in the extant P. torquatus and thinocorids is likely convergent and not ancestral. The speciation event leading to the evolution of the extant Plains-wanderer was probably triggered by the spread of grasslands across Australia in the Late Miocene-Pliocene, which this record predates. The presence of a pedionomid in the Late Oligocene of Australia strengthens the hypothesis of a Gondwanan divergence of the lineages giving rise to Thinocoridae and Pedionomidae.
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    Wading a lost southern connection: Miocene fossils from New Zealand reveal a new lineage of shorebirds (Charadriiformes) linking Gondwanan avifaunas
    (Taylor & Francis, 2015-10-13) De Pietri, Vanessa L; Scofield, R Paul; Tennyson, Alan J D; Hand, Suzanne J; Worthy, Trevor
    An endemic and previously unknown lineage of shorebirds (Charadriiformes: Scolopaci) is described from early Miocene (19 16 Ma) deposits of New Zealand. Hakawai melvillei gen. et sp. nov. represents the first pre-Quaternary record of the clade in New Zealand and offers the earliest evidence of Australasian breeding for any member of the Scolopaci. Hakawai melvillei was a representative of the clade that comprises the South American seedsnipes (Thinocoridae) and the Australian Plains-wanderer (Pedionomidae), and presumed derived features of its postcranial skeleton indicate a sister taxon relationship to Australian pedionomids. Our findings reinforce that terrestrial adaptations in seedsnipes and the Plains-wanderer are convergent as previously proposed, and support an ancestral wading ecology for the clade. Although vicariance events may have contributed to the split between pedionomids and H. melvillei, the proposed sister taxon relationship between these taxa indicates that the split of this lineage from
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    Avifauna from the Teouma Lapita Site, Efate Island, Vanuatu, Including a New Genus and Species of Megapode
    (University of Hawaii Press, 2015) Worthy, Trevor; Hawkins, Stuart; Bedford, Stuart; Spriggs, Matthew
    The avifauna of the Teouma archaeological site on Efate in Vanuatu is described. It derives from the Lapita levels (3,000 – 2,800 ybp) and immedi-ately overlying middens extending to ∼2,500 ybp. A total of 30 bird species is represented in the 1,714 identiï¬ ed specimens. Twelve species are new records for the island, which, added to previous records, indicates that minimally 39 land birds exclusive of passerines were in the original avifauna. Three-fourths of the 12 newly recorded species appear to have become extinct by the end of Lapita times, 2,800 ybp. The avifauna is dominated by eight species of columbids (47.5% Minimum Number Individuals [MNI ]) including a large extinct tooth-billed pigeon, Didunculus placopedetes from Tonga, and a giant Ducula sp. cf. D. goliath from New Caledonia. Seabirds are rare despite the coastal location of the site. Fowl are important contributors to the Teouma avifauna, with the human-introduced Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus accounting for 15% MNI and present in all sampled layers. There are two species of megapodes (∼10% of MNI ), with the extant Vanuatu Megapode Megapodius layardi most abundant and represented at all levels in the deposits. A substantially larger extinct megapode, Mwalau walter-linii, n. gen., n. sp., is present only in the Lapita midden area, where it is rela-tively rare. This extinct species was larger than all extant megapodes but smaller than the extinct Progura gallinacea from Australia, with proportions most similar to those of Alectura, and was a volant bird. The remaining signiï¬ cant faunal component is rails, with four species present, of which Porphyrio melanotus was the most abundant. Rare but notable records include an undescribed large rail; a parrot, Eclectus sp. cf. E. infectus; a hornbill, Rhyticeros sp. cf. R. plicatus; and a coucal, Centropus sp. indet., all conservatively considered likely to be conspeciï¬ c with known taxa elsewhere in Melanesia.
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    Miocene mystacinids (Chiroptera: Noctilionoidea) indicate a long history for endemic bats in New Zealand
    (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2013) Hand, S; Worthy, Trevor; Archer, M; Worthy, J; Tennyson, A; Schofield, R
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    Miocene Fossils Reveal Ancient Roots for New Zealand’s Endemic Mystacina (Chiroptera) and Its Rainforest Habitat
    (Public Library of Science, 2015) Hand, Suzanne J; Lee, Daphne E; Worthy, Trevor; Archer, Michael; Worthy, Jennifer P; Tennyson, Alan J D; Salisbury, Steven W; Scofield, R Paul; Mildenhall, Dallas C; Kennedy, Elizabeth M; Lindqvist, Jon K
    The New Zealand endemic bat family Mystacinidae comprises just two Recent species referred to a single genus, Mystacina. The family was once more diverse and widespread, with an additional six extinct taxa recorded from Australia and New Zealand. Here, a new mystacinid is described from the early Miocene (19–16 Ma) St Bathans Fauna of Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand. It is the first pre-Pleistocene record of the modern genus and it extends the evolutionary history of Mystacina back at least 16 million years. Extant Mystacina species occupy old-growth rainforest and are semi-terrestrial with an exceptionally broad omnivorous diet. The majority of the plants inhabited, pollinated, dispersed or eaten by modern Mystacina were well-established in southern New Zealand in the early Miocene, based on the fossil record from sites at or near where the bat fossils are found. Similarly, many of the arthropod prey of living Mystacina are recorded as fossils in the same area. Although none of the Miocene plant and arthropod species is extant, most are closely related to modern taxa, demonstrating potentially long-standing ecological associations with Mystacina.
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    Numbers, schnumbers: total cultural value and talking about everything that we do, even culture
    (Emerald Publishing Group, 2015-06-15) Meyrick, Julian
    The purpose of this paper is to argue for the importance of separating out three key dimensions of culture’s value – definition, measurement and cultural reporting. This has implications for the balance between quantitative and qualitative methodologies in achieving a meaningful context for interpreting numbers-based cultural data, as well as for the management of reporting regimes – the process by which value is “conferred” – by individual cultural organisations and events. It concludes with a brief sketch of a new set of priorities for assessment processes based on a less unitized, more cooperative understanding of cultural value (a Total Cultural Value exercise) Design/methodology/approach – This paper is a keynote address from the Global Events Congress. Findings – Valuation processes are comparative processes. They involve benchmarking, standardisation, unitisation and ranking. Cultural activities have an incommensurable aspect that makes them resist this kind of assessment and not infrequently make a nonsense of it. This makes it difficult for policy makers to choose between them from a resource perspective. No new proof of worth is going to change this fundamental characteristic of culture. A Total Cultural Value exercise is “allocutionary” and helps cultural programmes “make a case” based on best use of the available data and a meta-cognitive appreciation of the biases different proofs of worth involve. Originality/value – Total Cultural Value is a new concept developed to bring quantitative and qualitative methods for valuing arts and culture together.
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    The logic of culture: the fate of alternative theatre in the postwhitlam period
    (University of Queensland, Department of English, 2014-04) Meyrick, Julian
    This article presents a general explanation of government subsidy to the arts, drawing on the historical experience of Australian alternative theatre from the late 1970s to the early 1990s - a period of expansion for the sector, but not for alternative theatre. It describes the strategic categories of measurement used by the country's major cultural provision agency at the time, the Australia Council, and presents an eight part model showing how natural language terms - 'excellent', 'innovative', 'experimental', 'accessible', etc. - were taken up and repositioned as functional operators of capture by the peer assessment process. Using the structural analysis adopted by Ernesto Laclau in the ground-breaking On Populist Reason (2005), most especially his theory of the 'empty signifier' and its role in organising 'equivalential chains', or broad-based alliances of social demand, it suggests how Australian theatre was fractured, fragmented and recuperated by the competitive grant system. 'Difference', an effect of creative activity, was expropriated as the mark of its value, a saleable symbol in a world of increasingly symbolic commodities. With the consolidation of the Australia Council's dominance over the theatre sector during the period, difference could be fed back as market difference with the government as a 'corporate regulator'. While the rebarbative rhetoric of alternative artists might have remained the same, a creusant in Mallarme's sense had taken place, a hollowing-out - and a return to the values that so many of them were trying to rebel against.
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    The mocking of the modern mind: culture and cartooning in the age of Je suis Charlie Hebdo
    (Australian Book Review, Inc., 2015-04) Meyrick, Julian; Maltby, Richard George; Phiddian, Robert Andrew
    Eminent psychologist Steven Pinker once described art as ‘cheesecake for the mind’. Many people think of culture as a luxury good, high up – and therefore low down – on Mazslow’s hierarchy of needs in comparison with basic physical requirements. Most of the time they are right. When they aren’t, the necessity for a detailed understanding of cultural processes suddenly becomes urgent. The horrible events in rue Nicolas-Appert in Paris this January give the lie to Pinker’s characterisation. When a dozen people die violently, a country plunges into serious unrest, and the world recoils in horror at the violent consequences of a series of satirical cartoons, two things are evident. First, culture matters, if not always and in every manifestation, then certainly at signal moments. Second, that the predominantly secular West has trouble grasping the pivotal role of culture in an era of unprecedented social mobility and media saturation. The End of History is proving to be the beginning of another kind of history. Like it or not, culture is central to current events. ‘Dying for a piece of cake’ is a metaphor of easy consumption. Dying for freedom of speech involves a more complex set of priorities. Pinker’s dessert turns out to contain some unpleasant ingredients: razor-sharp shards of broken glass.
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    Cultural value vs culture's value
    (Emerald Publishing Group, 2015) Meyrick, Julian; Barnett, Tully Sarah
    The problem of culture’s value is assayed by David Throsby in his seminal book Economics and Culture when he puts forward the proposition “the economic impulse is individualistic, the cultural impulse is collective”. This proposition asserts, first, that there is behaviour which can be termed “economic” which reflects individual goals and which is portrayed in the standard model of an economy comprising self-interested individual consumers seeking to maximise their utility and self-interested producers seeking to maximise their profits […] secondly, that there is behaviour, distinguishable from economic behaviour […] which can be termed “cultural”; such behaviour reflects collective as distinct from individualistic goals, and derives from the nature of culture as expressing the beliefs, aspirations and identification of a group as defined above. Thus the cultural impulse can be seen as a desire for group experience or for collective production or consumption that cannot be fully factored out to the individuals comprising the group […] Whatever the artistic products produced and consumed, the processes of producing and consuming them can be seen not only as individual enterprise, but also as expressions of a collective will which transcends that of the individual participants involved.