2013 Jill Landsberg Trust Fund Scholarship winner

Congratulations to the 2013 JLTF winner Jorge Ramos Castillejos, University of Tasmania, for his project on the Life history and population dynamics of the range extending Octopus tetricus in south-eastern Australia.

Anthropogenic climate change is resulting in warmer waters that are altering the distribution, abundance and life history of many marine species. The East Australian Current is extending further into Tasmanian waters and persisting for longer periods throughout each year, and is therefore a likely factor contributing to the observed shift in distribution of several marine species.

One of these species is the ecologically and commercially important Common Sydney octopus, Octopus tetricus, which is extending its distribution from southern Queensland and central NSW to Victoria and Tasmania, with the potential impacts on local marine ecosystems largely unknown. Despite range shifts being documented all over the world, there are large gaps in our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning range-shift dynamics, the evolutionary consequences and how genetic traits can modulate such shifts. Genetic diversity is critical for the adaptive potential of a population and its ability to deal with changing environmental conditions such as increased temperatures. Therefore, knowledge on the level of connectivity and the structure within populations is fundamental to understanding the genetic and evolutionary consequences of range extensions.

Hence, this study aims to answer the following questions by using microsatellites and High Resolution Melt analysis:

(1) Is the O. tetricus population formed by one or more subpopulations along its range in eastern Australia?

(2) What is the gene flow between Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania?

(3) Where along the coast of central-eastern Australia are the source populations located that are contributing to the extension of O. tetricus in Victoria and Tasmania?

(4) What is the genetic diversity of the range edge vs. other population components?

(5) What are the potential evolutionary consequences of this range shift?

(6) What implications could the genetic structure of this species have on the establishment and dispersal of O. tetricus in the new environments?

Jorge will be receiving his scholarship at EcoTas13 in Auckland, November 24-29, 2013.

Highly Commended Awards went to: 

  • Jessica Strauss (Flinders university) "Exploring the effects of resource availability on the health indices of the Southern hairy nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) at brookfield conservation park and Moorunde wildlife reserve".

  • Alison Hewitt (Uni Western Sydney) "Applying microsatellite markers in multiplex reactions to assess the extent of clonality and genetic variability between and within populations of the rare species Melaleuca deanei"

  • Nicole Coggan (La Trobe) "The impacts of fossorial marsupial extinction upon ecosystem processes and invertebrate diversity".

 These students will all receive an annual membership to ESA.

The Ecological Society of Australia Inc has established the Jill Landsberg Trust Fund, which now funds an ongoing postgraduate scholarship in the field of Applied Ecology. The scope of research is open to terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecology.

Each year a grant of $6,000 will be awarded to support the field-based research of a Postgraduate Student working in applied ecology.  The successful applicant also attends the annual conference to receive their award and the following annual conerence to present their research- travel, registration and accommodation costs are covered under the award.

2013 Applications closed