Pushing genetic and digital innovation to better detect and manage invasive species

Pushing genetic and digital innovation to better detect and manage invasive species


The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions is accelerating research and innovation to progress national registration of Eradicat – an effective feral cat toxic bait, develop new biocontrol and genetic technologies for pest fish, develop improved thermal and acoustic technology to detect pests, as well as foster uptake of best practice deer management through a new national deer management coordinator.

The $2.75 million invested in these second phase projects by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment is part of its $20 million commitment to the Centre. Through a strategic partnership between the Australian Government, all States, the ACT, two RDCs, CSIRO, five universities and the NZ Government, this investment has been matched through $2.99 million in-kind financial support.

CEO of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions Andreas Glanznig said together, pest animals and weeds cost Australian farmers more than $5.5 billion per year in lost productivity and management costs and have a major impact on hundreds of nationally listed threatened species.

“It is imperative that we continue to develop new tools and technologies to tackle these national problems,” Mr Glanznig said.

“This investment will see Australia strengthen our biosecurity system and accelerate hi tech innovation to ensure new and emerging pest threats are kept out.

“CISS is bringing together the brightest minds from universities, government agencies and commercial companies across Australia to ensure we will get new tools on ground quicker and more effectively, which will mean less impact of invasive species on farmers back pockets.

“Two new projects delivered by the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development are dedicated to improving pest animal detection techniques using acoustic detection & automated thermal imagery methods.

“Two new projects led by the CSIRO and South Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regions respectively will establish new tools and technologies to combat pest animal problems – including national registration of a feral cat toxin, Eradicat, and research to evaluate the feasibility of tilapia biocontrol agents. These projects will build on and accelerate the work of the previously funded biocontrol and genetic technology projects.

“A new national deer management coordinator role will also be appointed to facilitate coordinated and best practice deer management within Australia, which is an important addition to pest animal coordination in Australia,” Mr Glanznig said.

Through this investment the Centre is also boosting weeds RD&E collaborations within Australia to ensure we develop new solutions and resources to reduce lost productivity to farmers back pockets.

“A new project led by the University of Adelaide is exploring innovative ways to monitor e-commerce and other online platforms for illegal trade of invasive declared plants, ensuring our next weed problem is not purchased online,” Mr Glanznig said.

This investment ensures our national research collaboration stays on track to deliver new genetic surveillance techniques, biocontrol agents and improved digital technologies to empower cooperative community led pest animal management.

Find out more about our full suite of innovation projects below.

Six new projects funded

Automated detection to trigger faster, smarter and better responses to incursions 
Delivered by WA Dept of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Specialised Zoological and DKB Solutions Pty Ltd
DAWE investment: $390,000
Total project investment (includes in kind): $1,022,800
Summary: Passive acoustic surveillance (PAS) technology has the potential to help prevent establishment of acoustically identifiable high-risk invasive species, from both developed and developing nations. This project will develop and demonstrate the application of PAS detection for high priority invasive pest animals that threaten Australia.

Automated thermal imagery analysis platform for multiple pest species
Delivered by WA DPIRD, WA Department of Biodivesity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), NSW Dept Primary Industries (DPI), QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Charles Sturt University and Tomcat Technologies
DAWE investment: $488,500
Total project investment (includes in kind): $1,233,500
Summary: Automated computer software systems for detecting and identifying target objects from thermal imagery have the potential to analyse large imagery datasets quickly and accurately. This project will develop an automated thermal imagery analysis model that incorporates artificial intelligence and deep machine learning to further enhance low-cost and time-efficient processing.

National registration of a feral cat bait
Delivered by SA Department of Primary Industries and Regions (DPIR), SA Department of Environment and Water (DEW) and WA DBCA
DAWE investment: $210,000
Total project investment (includes in kind): $357,500
Summary: This Project seeks to significantly progress the APVMA registration of a feral cat bait containing 1080 for use across Australia, providing an additional broad-scale tool to control feral cats.

National deer management coordinator
Delivered by SA DPIR
DAWE investment: $550,000
Total project investment (includes in kind): $1,312,500
Summary: This project will build on the successful coordinator model, to implement a position of National Deer Management Coordinator who will support community-led deer control in all states and territories.

Biosecurity surveillance of e-commerce and other online platforms for illegal trade in declared plants
Delivered by University of Adelaide
DAWE investment: $349,782
Total project investment (includes in kind): $687,209
Summary: This project will develop software and analytical approaches to ensure that effective interventions are in place nationally for monitoring key international and domestic online sources of illegal plants and e-commerce trade pathways, as an additional way to support biosecurity agencies charged with preventing new alien plant incursions

Proof of concept for genetic biocontrol in a vertebrate species
Delivered by CSIRO and Macquarie University
DAWE investment: $419,532
Total project investment (includes in kind): $968,367
Summary: This project will use zebrafish (Danio rerio) to design, build, and test the genetic components necessary to successfully apply a new genetic biocontrol concept known as ‘self-stocking incompatible male system’ to pest fish populations.

Three projects receiving a funding boost

Tilapia biocontrol prospecting project 
Delivered by CSIRO and James Cook University
DAWE top-up: $200,000
Total project investment (includes in kind): $604,888
Summary: Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) are listed in the top 100 of the world’s worst alien invasive species and their impact in Queensland and recent incursions in NSW is cause for concern. This project will evaluate the tilapia lake virus (TiLV) as a potential biocontrol agent to control tilapia in Australian waterways.

Assessment of the biodiversity, economic and productivity gains from exclusion fencing in QLD
Delivered by QDAF, QDES, NSW DPI, WA DPIRD, Meat and Livestock Australia and Central Queensland University
DAWE top-up: $40,000
Total project investment (includes in kind): $1,678,250
Summary: This project brings together and expands the scope of existing studies to inform future cluster fencing activities. The top up funding will go towards the addition of a research position to the project team to support the projects evaluation of exclusion fencing in QLD.

Invasive species digital portal development – PestSmart and WeedsAustralia
Delivered by Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
DAWE top-up: $100,000
Full government project investment: $600,000
Summary: This project is about integrating and upgrading all our digital resources to create a one-stop shop for invasive species management information in one place and to link out to other useful digital resources. It has included the creation of a new national weeds website. The funding boost will see a review of 398 weeds management profiles to ensure they are current and up to date.

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