University of Queensland to determine how clownfish see in new research


“Our fish are trained to poke the UV dots that display and get a food reward, but they only get it when they accurately poke the right dot.”

Of 416 trials, 360 saw the fish correctly peck the UV target.

Dr Powell said they can then measure exactly what wavelengths the fish can see, which gives them an idea about what they use that vision for in the wild.

“There seems to be indications, and we’re still researching this, that their white stripes can be more and less reflective of UV light,” he said.

“That seems to be something to do with dominance signalling, so that’s what we’re looking into with them.”

The researchers came up with the relatively simple experiment design almost out of necessity, needing a simple way to measure UV interaction that could be immersed in a fish tank.

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They used commercially available UV-emitting LEDs, which are more commonly used at the dentist to harden dental resin.

Although Dr Powell said it was unlikely the tech would make the jump to human televisions any time soon.

“You’d have to wear sunglasses and sunscreen while watching it, and the resolution is quite low – eight by 12 pixels in a four- by five-centimetre area – so don’t expect to be watching Netflix in ultraviolet anytime soon,” he said.

Dr Karen Cheney said the technology will now allow researchers to expand their knowledge about a range of animals which are known or suspected to see UV light.

“Bees use UV patterns on flowers to locate nectar, for example, and fish can recognise individuals using UV facial patterns,” she said.

“This technology is allowing us to understand how animals see the world, helping answer significant questions about animal behaviour.”

The research has been published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

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Coroner calls for brain research following death of Danny Frawley


“Mr Frawley’s mental state began deteriorating in the months before his death and appeared to coincide with ceasing his medication and several psychosocial stressors,” Mr Spanos wrote.

“Like many players, Mr Frawley began his football career in his formative years, and likely experienced head trauma while his brain was still developing. As such, it is difficult to evaluate the contribution of CTE to personality, behaviours, any cognitive deficits, or emotion over a lifetime.”

“CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem, it is impossible to establish at what point CTE began and whether this coincided with any changes in mood or behaviour.”

Mr Spanos did ultimately find that CTE was a potential contributor to the depression that Frawley suffered in the years preceding his death.

Frawley – a former AFL player, coach and football commentator – took his own life in 2019. He was 56.

The coronial investigation found Frawley had a history of mental health issues and in the period immediately preceding his death had experienced personal and professional stressors and an exacerbation of the anxiety and depression he had been suffering for five years.

Frawley played 240 AFL games between 1984 to 1995 and was captain of the St Kilda Football Club for nine seasons. During his career, he sustained about 20 concussions, including losing consciousness, severe headaches and vision problems, the investigation found.

As part of her recommendations, Ms Spanos is calling on the AFL and AFLPA to actively encourage players and, their legal representatives after their death, to donate their brains to the Australian Sports Brain Bank (ASBB) for research into CTE.

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Reddit user says research led him to believe GameStop undervalued


This illustration photo shows a person checking the GameStop stock on a smartphone on February 17, 2021 in Los Angeles as the Reddit, Citadel, Robinhood and Melvin Capital logos are seen on the background ahead of the virtual hearing involving GameStop stocks. – The House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing, titled “Game Stopped? Who Wins and Loses When Short Sellers, Social Media, and Retail Investors Collide” on February 18, 2021.  (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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The user who began the initial GameStop investment frenzy defended his trading strategy on Capitol Hill. In opening testimony before the House Financial Services Committee Thursday, Keith Patrick Gill said he merely discussed public information on the Reddit forum and had no insider knowledge relating to GameStop.

Gill noted his own research led him to believe the company’s stock was undervalued and that he shared his research to help other amateur investors. He said he hopes lawmakers will also look into possible market manipulation by brokers.

In the meantime, the CEO of the Robinhood app also testified and spoke out on the decision to close stocks to retail investors.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Co-founder and co-CEO of Robinhood Vladimir Tenev speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on May 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Co-founder and co-CEO of Robinhood Vladimir Tenev speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on May 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

“Robinhood Securities put the restrictions in place in an effort to meet increased regulatory deposit requirements, not to help hedge funds,” CEO Vlad Tenev stated. “We don’t answer to hedge funds. We serve the millions of small investors who use our platform to invest.”

Tenev ultimately apologized for the move and said it won’t happen again.

RELATED: House Financial Services Committee To Hear Testimony On GameStop Stock Shorting Frenzy From CEO’s



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Children with anxiety or phobias are being treated with sleep and exposure therapy, in world-first research


The Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University is investigating the best time of day to conduct exposure therapy sessions to determine if they are more effective in the morning or in the evening, immediately before sleep.

Postdoctoral research fellow Ella Oar said she was exploring whether sleep could be used as a “learning booster” to increase the efficacy of treatment.

“It affects 20 per cent of kids.

“With our current treatment, the gold-standard treatment for children with anxiety problems, we know that a significant proportion of kids don’t respond that well.

Exposure therapy is a common technique used to help patients overcome their fears, by exposing them to their source of anxiety in a controlled and safe environment.

“With our exposure therapy, what it involves is helping children gain new learnings,” Dr Oar said.

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COVID-19: Vaccines giving 67% protection after three weeks, large-scale research shows | UK News


One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine gives 67% protection after three weeks, a leading epidemiologist has said.

Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London, who runs the ZOE COVID-19 surveillance app, said data collected from 50,000 users vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab showed one dose gave 46% protection after two weeks, rising to 67% after three to six weeks.

The app uses information submitted by more than four million users across the world to predict and track coronavirus infections across the UK and other countries.

“We have now got about a third of a million people who have logged their first dose of the vaccine with us on the ZOE app,” Prof Spector told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday

“We are showing very low levels of side effects and we’ve showed that after three weeks we’re getting a 67% protection against the virus, so three times less risk than you’d be getting otherwise compared to an unprotected control.

“That is a better rate than people had thought just on a single jab so I think that, combined with the data we’re seeing, has given me a lot of reason to be optimistic that we are going to be in a much better place in two to four weeks’ time and can start to reduce some of these restrictions.”

Asked about the sample size, he said: “We have analysed around the first 50,000 people so it is a large sample and these are healthcare workers who are at high risk, so they are the ones you would see changes in most and we’re seeing a consistent fall, with no protection at all in the first two weeks… but after two weeks it drops to around 46% and after three to six weeks it is 67%, which is really great.

“If that was around the country, we would have really knocked this virus on the head.”

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Professor Tim Spector has been examining collected data on vaccine efficacy

The figure was calculated using “large-scale, real-time data” from two control groups of healthcare workers – one group vaccinated and one not. The level of protection was measured against a PCR proven infection compared to a control group of same age and gender also reporting on the app.

Different studies suggest different effectiveness for one jab of the two vaccines currently on offer – the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs.

According to Pfizer data from December 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is roughly 52% effective 12 days on from the first dose. This rises to 95% with a second jab.

And data from Israel’s vaccination programme suggests one jab could offer just 33% protection.

This was contradicted by a UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation study which found one Pfizer jab to be 89% effective, rising to 92% with a second jab.

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Meanwhile, according to a scientific paper in the Lancet from January, the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab offers protection of 64.1% 21 days after one dose and 70.4% after two doses.

On Wednesday, early results of the vast UK study on the impact of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rollout suggests that the level of protection from one jab was about 60% to 65%.

The results applied to vaccine recipients of all ages, and protection began after two weeks.

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‘Come forward and get jabbed,’ says national medical director for England

A draft has been sent to the government but on Wednesday Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said he was not publishing its results yet because he wanted more data.

The figures, first reported in The Sun and confirmed by a Whitehall source, showed that one dose reduced the symptomatic infection risk by 65% in younger adults and 64% in over-80s.

Protection for those given two shots rose to between 79% and 84%, depending on age.

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KFC SuperCoach 2021 study guide: One-stop shop for pre-season research


The clock is ticking to Round 1 and the first lockout of the 2021 KFC SuperCoach season.

If you’re playing for the first time or just catching up after a crazy summer, you’ve come to the right place.

From the best rookies to expert advice, this is your one-stop shop for KFC SuperCoach pre-season research.

>> SIGN UP FOR FREE AND START PICKING YOUR KFC SUPERCOACH TEAM NOW

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New to the game or need a refresher? Check out our beginner’s guide that includes everything you need to know from the rules to this year’s fantastic prizes, starting with $50,000 for the No.1 ranked SuperCoach at the end of the season.

Once you’ve signed up — it only takes a few minutes, we can wait! — you can follow this step-by-step expert guide to picking a team to challenge for your league premiership.

If you’re pushed for time, you can pick a competitive team in 10 minutes with this free cheat sheet — perfect for sending to friends or family you need in your league.

Check out Tim Michell’s 11 must-have players for 2021 and expert Al Paton’s 11 secrets to KFC SuperCoach domination. Seee an explainer of how the KFC SuperCoach scoring system works — and which players benefit the most from it — here,

Here are the 30 most popular selections and 11 players not to pick this season!

WHICH ROOKIES SHOULD I PICK?

This a key question to any serious KFC SuperCoach player. Getting the right cheapies is the key to building a team that can win games and increase in value, funding your trades during the season.

Some players to look closely at early on are Adelaide mature-age recruit James Rowe, North Melbourne’s top draft picks Will Phillips and Tom Powell, St Kilda defender Tom Highmore and Brisbane recruit Nakia Cockatoo, who could be the steal of the season if he can banish his injury curse.

Get profiles of 60 bottom-priced players who could play in Round 1 in the ROOKIE BIBLE. Bookmark that page, it will be updated across the pre-season.

EXPERT TEAMS

A great place to start or to see how your team compares to the experts is to check out the teams we have released over the pre-season: Al Paton | Tim Michell | The Phantom | Dan Batten | Gilbert Gardiner | Champion Data expert Fantasy Freako

BARGAIN HUNT

Everyone loves a bargain especially in KFC SuperCoach. Getting a top scorer for well under his real value can set up your whole season.

Here are the 11 biggest bargains of KFC SuperCoach in 2021, and don’t miss our updated mid-price rankings.

THE PHANTOM

South Australia’s biggest KFC SuperCoach expert has been studying the numbers for all the best picks this season, and he has unearthed some gems.

Click here for his ultimate guide to the best premium picks in every position.

If you don’t want to pay top dollar, he has also rated the best value picks in defence, midfield, the ruck and forward line.

ANALYSIS

Take your KFC SuperCoach preparation to the next level with in-depth analysis.

Find out how the fixture could effect some of the top KFC SuperCoach scorers here, what new (and old) rules mean for our KFC SuperCoach players, and click here for expert predictions of the top-scorers at every team.

And here is how our experts predict every AFL team will line up in Round 1.

And any player can super charge their KFC SuperCoach team with SuperCoach Plus, an exclusive suite of tools and extra stats.

PODCASTS

Get the latest KFC SuperCoach news and tips in your ears every week by subscribing to the official KFC SuperCoach AFL Podcast and The Phantom’s Lair.



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Dating app faces the busiest peak for the weekend

It’s that time of the year again, when everywhere you look you’ll see lovers, flowers and heart signs. Yet, at this same time last year, it probably wasn’t as exciting as dating plans were thrown into disarray due to the pandemic.

Now that things seem to slowly subside, but not much, it is probably time to pump up the dating game. This goes as the weekend could see a peak to one of the busiest times of the year for one dating app.

While “Dating Sunday”, aka the first Sunday of the year, is often touted as when everyone gets swiping, historical data from Hinge has them predicting this weekend – which happens to be one week before Valentine’s Day – as the busiest for the app.

The director for Hinge’s research, Logan Ury said “Historically, Dating Sunday, is the day where dating apps see an increase in traffic as daters consider their resolutions for the New Year. This momentum continues through February as singles consider their Valentine’s Day plans.”

Given that, single people had now grown to a more international aim with regards to dating decisions, thus were holding off on opening their dating apps until the second month of the year.

“What that means is that they start off the new year with a resolution to find someone, spend the first few weeks of the year investing in self-reflection, and then by the beginning of February they are ready to get out there and start dating seriously,” Ms. Ury explained.

On other end, relationship coach and founder of 30 Everafter Iona Young talked about the best times of the week to be going through dating apps and advised going online during social hours if you’re looking for a relationship.

In an interview with media, she said “Most people avoid weekends, especially Saturday and Friday nights but I’m all for them. That’s when you meet people who are genuinely done with their party days and prefer a chilled night in, hopefully with someone special.”

Provided that the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s “love-life”, the best way to get back into dating after some time off was to “take it slow”, Ms. Young said.

She pointed out “Most singles have had a break due to COVID and while it can be exciting to sign up for every dating app, a lot of us are just learning to be social again. Take it easy to begin with and start with coffee catch ups or a beach walk. Another great way is to sign up for singles events where everyone is in the same boat – it’s easier to break the ice and it gets you meet people in person again.”

R&D – A new science agency is part of plans to transform research in Britain | Britain


“I want the UK to continue to be a global science superpower,” said Boris Johnson last year. On the basis of current R&D spending around the world (see chart) that seems unlikely to happen. Whereas the share of GDP devoted to R&D in many fast-growing countries is rising, Britain’s is flat. At $50bn, its annual R&D spending is 40% smaller than South Korea’s, even though its economy is three-quarters larger.

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The government’s first step towards improving Britain’s dismal performance is the announcement that Kwasi Kwarteng, the new business secretary, is creating an agency to foster fundamental research. Its working title, the “Advanced Research Projects Agency’’, is a clue to the model. Copying the American agency of the same name set up in 1958, which continues to sponsor programmes such as a competition to design robots that can help in natural disasters (contestant pictured above), was one of the priorities of Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser.

The aim of the scheme is to boost “blue skies” research—high-risk projects that have the potential to hand Britain a stake in a technology that will define the future. The prime example is ARPAnet, the precursor to the internet which ARPA developed in the late 1960s. America still exerts disproportionate heft over the internet as a result. Silicon Valley’s predilection for big, risky investments was also an inspiration to Mr Cummings, though venture capitalists’ time-horizons are shorter.

The DARPA (D for defence was added in 1972) model which gave birth to ARPAnet was to hire specialist “programme managers” to run each of its research projects, rather than—as most national research bodies do—just giving money to scientists and letting them get on with it. British ARPA is likely to follow that model, and will have plenty of autonomy. Britain’s other publicly funded research agency, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), operates in a more constrained manner, with more oversight over its spending than British ARPA will probably have. UKRI’s boss, Ottoline Leyser, has said she sees a place for institutions in which the funding model as well as the research are more experimental.

The idea is promising, but two elements that helped America’s research effort may be in short supply. One is money. The £800m ($1.1bn) that was earmarked for the science agency in the 2020 budget—its launch was delayed—is a drop in the ocean. America spends 2.8% of its GDP—a whopping $550bn a year—on R&D. Yet public money may help researchers to attract funding from elsewhere, so it may have a multiplicative effect.

Another important element in ARPA’s success was the mood in America when it was created. A national research effort works best when there is a goal to rally around. In the 1950s America, cold-war competition with the Soviet Union combined with the United States’ global leadership in the wake of the second world war to provide that cohesion. Not just ARPA, but a host of other American national laboratories also made a string of wondrous discoveries. Bell Labs, the research division of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, then a regulated monopoly, developed the transistor, the laser and the Unix operating system. “The Idea Factory”, a book on Bell Labs’ history, argues that the sense of unified national purpose at the time motivated those discoveries. No doubt the government hopes that the combination of Brexit and covid-19 will unleash that spirit in Britain.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Blue skies ahead”

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Extend 14-day human embryo research limit to 28 days, urges ethicist


Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

It’s time to extend the legal limit on human embryo research from 14 to 28 days, because technology and knowledge have moved on during the 40 years since it was introduced, urges a leading ethicist in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

This step is now key to discovering potential new treatments to ward off the risks of recurrent miscarriage and developmental abnormalities, contends Sophia McCully of King’s College, London.

The ’14-day rule’ limits research on intact human embryos to this period, as it is only after 14 days that the central nervous system begins to develop. The law governing the rule applies in many jurisdictions and is upheld even in countries without relevant laws or guidelines.

“For the past 40 years, the 14-day rule has both governed and enabled embryo research and therapeutic innovation globally. It has been a piece of legislation and a rule of good practice, defining a clear boundary in which valuable research has been able to proceed against some considerable opposition,” writes the author.

But it is now safe and timely to make a policy change and extend the rule without fear of any “moral and regulatory slippery slope,” she says.

Many studies suggest that important changes in the embryo that occur before 14 days are likely to affect subsequent development. But without the ability to go further, their real significance will be hard to understand, she argues.

And as the embryo only starts to develop after 14 days, “how are we to learn about our beginnings if we cannot study them?” she asks.

Scientists now have the capacity to culture human embryos beyond 14 days, and there are compelling reasons for mandating the extension of this rule to 28 days, she contends.

These include greater understanding of the development of birth defects such as congenital heart disease, which affects around 8 in every 1000 babies; the potential to improve in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and reduce rates of miscarriage; and improved safety testing of new techniques, such as mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT).

Many argue that animal embryos can be used instead of human ones, she says. And Macaque monkey embryos have been used for up to 20 days. But it’s not clear how closely these resemble human embryo biology and this question can’t be answered without doing the comparison, she highlights.

There are also ethical and philosophical reasons why the 14-day rule needs to be amended, she says.

It is legal to abort an embryo or fetus substantially ‘older’ than 14 days, and, with appropriate consent, to do research on its tissues, yet it is illegal to experiment on an embryo beyond 14 days that was never intended for implantation, she points out.

With the introduction of tests in the UK to pick up three of the most severe chromosomal disorders, selective abortion has increased, she says.

With the ability to uncover why an embryo might have abnormalities through experiments on intact embryos maintained beyond 14 days, and then use new technologies to avoid or correct the problem, the frequency of selective abortion and therefore embryo and fetal wastage might be reduced, she suggests.

“The 14-day rule has become limiting, and just because something has once worked does not mean it should stay the same or not strive to improve. As is clear to see, there are a multiplicity of reasons why embryo research beyond 14 days can help us realise the metamorphic potential of healthcare,” writes the author.

“From this analysis, and that of others, there are no substantive ethical reasons for not altering the limit,” she argues.

“Embryo research is a crucial undertaking and will help us to make many transformational discoveries, thus extending this very arbitrary limit is an endeavour that must be achieved,” she concludes.


Double time limit for embryo research say ethics experts


More information:
The time has come to extend the 14-day limit, Journal of Medical Ethics (2021). DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2020-106406

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British Medical Journal

Citation:
Extend 14-day human embryo research limit to 28 days, urges ethicist (2021, February 1)
retrieved 1 February 2021
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-02-day-human-embryo-limit-days.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.



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UTAS research finds Maria Island could be perfect place for ‘insurance population’ of rock wallabies


A researcher at the University of Tasmania has suggested Maria Island off Tasmania’s east coast could be an ideal location to form an insurance population of the threatened brush-tailed rock wallaby.

The wallabies are found throughout Australia’s eastern seaboard, but like the koala, are not found in Tasmania.

Last year’s bushfires destroyed significant parts of natural habitat including places where the wallaby is found.

But researcher Shane Morris believes he might have found a safe place for the wallaby to thrive.

‘It’s a wild idea’

Moving a species from their native habitat to an offshore island is not a new method to try and save an animal from extinction, but it can be seen as controversial.

“It has worked before and it can become another tool in our toolkit for conservation management in the future,” Mr Morris said.

Mr Morris researched the natural habitat of the rock wallaby and places they do not live that might be suitable.

“I found that parts of Tasmania would have some pretty suitable areas,” he said.

“Maria Island would be a good place … you have these rocky areas they tend to inhabit, and you’ve got the Tasmanian devils which would stop them from spreading into areas you wouldn’t want them to go.”

UTAS researcher Shane Morris says the Tasmanian devils that were translocated to Maria Island could help keep the brush-tailed wallabies in check.(Supplied: Beauty of Tasmania)

The paper’s co-author professor Chris Johnson says due to the absence of foxes — the animal’s main predator on the mainland — the island could be a safe place for the wallabies.

“This type of wallaby has a very southern distribution and lives in habitats very similar to Tasmanian environments.

“The fear of introducing a new species is that the population would expand and cover the entire state … but if the wallabies move away from those rocky areas [on Maria Island] we have the devil, and the devil would probably prevent them from spreading into flat country.”

A southern brush-tail rock wallaby perches on a rock.
University of Melbourne associate professor Graeme Coulson says a lack of habitat is not the only problem for the wallabies.(Supplied: Annette Rypalski)

Maria Island has already been used to translocate species.

A population of Tasmanian devils were moved from mainland Tasmania to the island after the outbreak of a facial tumour disease.

The wombats on the island are also a subspecies, different to the rest of Tasmania, that were introduced in the 1970s.

Mr Morris believes due to the dire future facing the brush-tailed rock wallaby on the mainland, now is the time to consider more radical alternatives.

Expert sceptical

Graeme Coulson is an associate professor at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Southern Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby Recovery Team.

He said he was surprised by the idea of translocating rock wallabies to Maria Island.

“This idea has come out of the blue — we are certainly not looking at new sites in Tasmania,” he said.

“Maria Island could be suitable down the track but we don’t know how the devils and rock wallabies would interact.”

Mr Coulson also said a lack of suitable habitat for the animal was not the main issue threatening the animal’s survival.

“Some populations have been threatened by fire but others haven’t — the key issues are to do with genetic diversity and also controlling predators such as foxes,” he said.

Picture of a Tasmanian devil at night
A Tasmanian devil forages for food on Maria Island.(Supplied: Calum Cunningham)

Tasmania could be called on to save threatened species

University of Tasmania law lecturer, Phillipa McCormack, said translocating a species was seen as a last resort.

“From a legal perspective, our conservation laws allow us to identify species at risk of extinction, we put them on a list, and then our governments can produce a recovery plan,” she said.

“Australia has seen a lot of last resort situations and it’s tragic that it’s common because we see so many species right on the brink of extinction.

“We are going to see quite a few more where translocation is proposed because due to climate change, their natural home is just no longer suitable.”

The Painted Cliffs of Maria Island
One expert says Tasmania is likely to be “called upon more and more to consider opening up spaces for other species”.(Flickr: Anthony Tong Lee)

Dr McCormack says the broader Tasmanian community might need to confront the possibility of mainland native animals being brought to Tasmania in the future, as the effects of climate change continue to threaten native species.

“We know that Tasmania offers some really important habitats for species going forward. We have a lot here that needs to be protected, as well as recognising that stuff on the mainland needs access to places that will persist,” she said.

“It’s important to take more of a global perspective. Australia has responsibility to prevent the extinction of Australian species.

“Climate change is going to make that hard and Tasmanians have to have a conversation with each other and the rest of Australia about our role in that process.

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