Caught in a minefield

Being an ecologist in Western Australia

At the end of last year, Professor Richard Hobbs, one of EDG’s core researchers, was named ‘Western Australian Scientist of the Year’. Besides being a tremendous honour in itself, this is the first time an ecologist has won the award. In March, Richard gave a public lecture on what it was like being an ecologist in Western Australia. It was titled: Life in a biological wonderland caught in a minefield of polarized debates. Here’s an edited version of that talk.

Working as an ecologist in Western Australia is both a great privilege and an immense challenge. This biological wonderland comprises species and ecosystems found nowhere else on the planet, many of which we still know little about. Quirks of history and geography have rendered Western Australia a unique and diverse place whose ecology, we are discovering, is sometimes surprisingly different from other parts of the world. This ecology is now facing rapid directional change as humans increase their impacts through land use changes, urban and resource development, introduced species, exploitation and climate change…




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