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 - 6 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.