238 animal experts across Australia collaborate to develop a one-stop research resource

13 SEPTEMBER 2022

238 animal experts across Australia collaborate to develop a one-stop research resource

A new book has been published on wildlife research operating procedures and animal welfare.

  • A new book has been published on wildlife research operating procedures and animal welfare
  • The book is a consolidated resource of general operating procedures, ethics considerations and emerging research practises for all those involved in the study of Australian wildlife
  • There was equal contribution from women and men

A Charles Sturt University researcher, in collaboration with researchers from Central Queensland and Melbourne universities and animal ethics administrators, has published a book that provides a consolidated resource on wildlife research practices across Australia.

Wildlife Research in Australia: Practical and Applied Methods provides guidelines for everyone involved in the study of Australian wildlife. It covers operating procedures, animal welfare considerations for different types of animals, and tips for researchers and animal ethics committees.

The book champions a collaborative approach between researchers and ethics committees, assisting both to navigate the wildlife research landscape. Content covered includes methods and field techniques used in wildlife research, descriptions of potential impacts on animals during research, and practical advice on how to balance research findings with best practice animal welfare outcomes.

Adjunct Research Fellow with the  Charles Sturt Gulbali Institute of Agriculture, Water and Environment Dr Helen P Waudby said the book originated from a need for a consolidated resource of wildlife research operating procedures, as no such resource existed.

“We hope that this book will be an important resource for all people involved in studying Australia’s fascinating and unique wildlife,” Dr Waudby said.

“Wildlife researchers are at the forefront of conservation efforts, and there’s perhaps never been a more important time to study our wildlife and the challenges it faces.

“This massive resource is effectively a one-stop shop, with a section explaining how animal ethics committees operate, tips for animal ethics committee members and wildlife researchers, a section detailing general operating procedures for a range of wildlife research methods (ranging from drones to radio tracking to citizen science), and another section explaining the types of welfare considerations that researchers should be aware of when studying specific types of animals.”

The book features contributions from 238 wildlife experts across Australia. In addition to covering traditional research methods, it also details citizen science approaches to wildlife research and discusses a range of issues important to wildlife research, from wildlife ‘selfies’ and social media to the advent of low-impact technologies.

“It will be a great resource for animal ethics committee members, as well as new and established wildlife researchers from all fields. Hopefully it will also help to support a national standard for animal welfare considerations in wildlife-focused research,” Dr Waudby said.

Dr Waudby and her co-editors went to great lengths to ensure gender parity in the development of the book.

Charles Sturt University is a leader in gender equity being among the first Australian institutions to achieve an Athena SWAN Bronze Award for gender equity in 2018.

Athena SWAN is an accreditation framework to address gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine disciplines (STEMM) in higher education and research.

“It was important to me that the book achieved equal representation of women and men in terms of authorship, which we achieved, with just over half of our contributors being women in STEMM,” Dr Waudby said.

A contributor to the book, Professor in Ecology in the Charles Sturt  School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences David Watson said that such a book was one of his life-long dreams.

“I’ve wanted a book like this for twenty years ─ a single source of information on best practice approaches in wildlife research chock-full of practical advice from leading researchers,” Professor Watson said.

“In addition to being a ‘how-to’ guide, the focus on animal welfare and safety will make it indispensable for research managers, ethics committees and anyone interested in working with wild animals.”

The editorial team included a conservation biologist, a comparative psychologist, a wildlife veterinarian, and an animal ethics administrator.

All major animal groups that require animal ethics approvals before they can be used in research were included in the book, in addition to marine and freshwater fishes.

The book is available from all major online book retailers, including CSIRO Publishing’s website

Wildlife Research in Australia: Practical and Applied Methods was co-edited and co-written by Dr Helen P Waudby, with major contributions by other Charles Sturt researchers Professor David Watson, Dr Maggie Watson, Dr Joanne Connolly, and Associate Professor Andrew Peters.

The Gulbali Institute of Agriculture, Water and Environment is a strategic investment by Charles Sturt University to drive integrated research to optimise farming systems, enhance freshwater ecosystems and improve environmental management, to deliver benefits across Australia and globally.

ENDS

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Helen Waudby or Professor David Watson, contact Trease Clarke at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0409 741 789 or via news@csu.edu.au

Photo caption:

Charles Sturt, Faculty of Science students studying the Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management assisted Dr Helen Waudby with the deployment of 100 nest boxes as part of the NSW Saving our Species program, for Western Pygmy Possum in the Scotia Mallee region of NSW.

L to R:

Ms Anne-Maree Morris; Ms Kaija Pedler; Ms Rebecca Groat; Dr Helen Waudby; Ms Tahlia Stewart; Ms Lisa Cary; and Ms Miranda Mills.

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Animal and Veterinary science Charles Sturt University Science