ASL Congress 2013

52nd Congress
University of Canberra
2nd - 5th December 2013
Congress Report

Immediately before the conference the International Aquatic Health and Management Symposium was held, organised by Sue Nichols. This featured international guests Trefor Reynoldson (Canada), Iwan Jones (UK) and Chuck Hawkins (USA) as well as more than 50 researchers and managers from across Australia. The focus of the workshop was a prospective look at aquatic bioassessment and flowed into contributed sessions during the conference proper, and a writing workshop afterwards. The day finished with the inaugural Richard Norris Public Lecture, which will be an annual event at U Canberra from now on. Running concurrently were a series of student workshops on grant writing, careers and CV preparation which were very well attended by more than 50 students.

The conference proper began with a keynote address from Professor Colin Townsend (NZ) – a retrospective on  his decades of work on the community consequences of aquatic invasions. Parallel sessions followed on a wide range of themes, and including poster and keynote sessions. On the Wednesday the annual Hillary Jolly Lecture by ASL Medal Winner Bruce Chessman and Chrsity Fellows Award lecture by Early Career Research award winner Angus Webb, were particular highlights. Thursday featured sessions addressing the science-policy interface with presentations from  Jane Doolan (ex Victorian state government), Gary Jones (eWater), Laurel Tierney (NZ), Kerry Olsson (National Water Commission), Jody Swirepik (MDBA) and Kim Ritman (ABARES). These talks were the basis for animated discussion at the mixer and conference dinner which followed.

Despite some challenges – failed air conditioning meant the conference rooms sat at a balmy 30 odd degrees throughout – we hope that delegates enjoyed the meeting. The organising committee (Ross Thompson, Sue Nichols, Fiona Dyer, Evan Harrison, Sally Hatton) would particularly like to thank our sponsors; the University of Canberra Institute for Applied Ecology, Murray Darling Basin Futures CRN, eWater, Bennelongia Environmental Consultants, Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Sinclair Knight Merz, the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University, the Marine and Freshwater Research laboratory at Murdoch University and CSIRO Publishing. Exceptional logistic support was provided by ASN Events. We look forward to the next meeting in Darwin, 2014. 

A pleasing 206 ASL members and non-members attended the Congress in Canberra. 27% of attendees were students and there were seven international visitors.

Lungfish Chapter

The 52nd ASL congress hosted the inaugural events for the Lungfish Chapter, which promotes the exchange of ideas and transfer of knowledge, between older and younger members of the society.   On the first day this got off to a great start when Lungfish (longstanding ASL members  - 25 years+) were invited to the student mixer. We had several reports from both Lungfish and students what a valuable experience it was, with both sides learning from the other.  Then at lunchtime on Thursday (the last day of the congress) we all benefited from the science, anecdotes and life lessons of a fascinating career, when Professor Angela Arthington gave the inaugural Lungfish address. Angela gave some valuable insights into her research on the lakes of Fraser Island, the importance of being ready to go to court and stand up for your commitments and the success she had in conserving these systems; the importance of networks in her excellent research on freshwater fishes and finally her comprehensive research into environmental flows encapsulating early work and looking into the future and culminating in her recent book 'Environmental Flows: Saving Rivers in the Third Millennium’.  We look forward to the next Lungfish events at Darwin next year! If you have any questions or ideas for events or interactions with the Lungfish Chapter please contact Jenny Davis (jenny.davis@monash.edu) or Jane Chambers (J.Chambers@murdoch.edu.au).

Black Box Special Session

This special session was held on the first day of the Congress, chaired by Jane Roberts and Samantha Capon. The aim of the session was to synthesise the collective knowledge of participants on the status of black box and black box woodlands throughout their distribution and to discuss possible collaborative mechanisms for addressing the topic further in the future. Presentations were given by Jane Roberts (on black box regeneration), Amy George (on population dynamics) and Heather McGinness (on woodland structure and function). Workshop participants identified a very small number of actively regenerating black box sites and there was general consensus that this species, and the ecosystems it forms, can be considered particularly vulnerable to changing climate, land-use and water regimes. The group agreed to seek support to run a dedicated workshop on the topic in the near future. For further information, please contact s.capon@griffith.edu.au 

Student Prizes awarded at the Congress
PhD/Masters Presentation     
1st Prize Rachel Blakey, Australian Wetlands, Rivers and Landscapes Centre, University of NSW
Commendations   Caitlin Bartholomaeus, Murdoch University
  Peter O’Toole, Murdoch University
  Rebecca Wood, University of Technology, NSW
   
Honours/Undergraduate Presentation   
1st Prize Isobel Colson, School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University
Commendation    Samantha Lostrom, University of Western Australia
   
Marine and Freshwater Research Best Presentation    
Winner  Peter Rose, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University

 
Poster Presentation  
1st Prize  Nicholas Moran, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University
Commendation Emma Razeng, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University

       
ASL Awards announced at the AGM

ASL Medal Winner - Dr Leon Barmuta
Click here for the Citation.

Early Career Research Award - Dr Sarina Loo
Click here for the Citation.