Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meat ants slaughter problem toads

There is no doubt that "bufo marinus" is a huge problem. I grew up close to where they were first released and know them well. Journal article here. The idea is to use cat food to lure ants to toad breeding sites. The ants eat juvenile toads only -- JR

Boffins have discovered new weapons in the battle against cane toads - cat food and meat ants. Scientists from the University of Sydney have discovered that native meat ants can be lured by cat food to kill cane toads.

Professor Rick Shine and colleagues observed ant/toad interactions on the Adelaide River floodplain 60km east of Darwin and found encouraging evidence of the deadly effect of native meat ants on young cane toads. "We can look at an interaction thats already happening, meat ants are already killing millions of cane toads," Professor Shine said. "We're just looking to make it a bit easier for them."

Cane toads are easy targets for meat ants because unlike their native counterparts they do not try to avoid them at great speed. Cane toads are likely to use the ineffective tactic of crypsis, or immobility, instead of more active escape tactics.

Ant densities and toad mortalities have increased more than fourfold with the addition of cat food baits. The study found 98 per cent of metamorph toads were encountered by meat ants and 84 per cent were attacked within a very brief two minute period. Over 50 per cent of attacks were immediately fatal, while 88 per cent of escapee toads died within 24 hours.

The research funded by the Australian Research Council also reveals meat ants can be used with low risk of collateral damage to native wildlife. The approach is also logistically feasible, low technology and inexpensive.

The cane toad was introduced to Australia in 1935 to control beetles that were destroying sugarcane crops in Queensland, but have since become one of Australia's most highly invasive species.


Rudd losing his grip -- on the defensive now

KEVIN Rudd is a proven election campaigner and an accomplished media performer when he is focused and setting the agenda.

As a new Leader of the Opposition, Rudd demonstrated he could concentrate on a single positive message and keep the Coalition government off-balance during the 2007 election. Yesterday, as Prime Minister, he called a media conference but he was unable to set his intended agenda, strayed into negative topics and got upstaged on the evening television news by Tony Abbott almost getting hit by a truck.

There was no sign of the frontrunning, confident politician in charge of a media conference positively promoting his own policies and deftly smothering the Coalition agenda.

There wasn't anything Rudd could do about the dramatic television footage of the new Liberal leader's close shave putting him down the evening news bulletins, but calling a media conference without a theme was a miscalculation.

After making a statement about homelessness which normally would have been dealt with by a ministerial press release, the Prime Minister was immediately quizzed on a range of topics that put him in a negative light.

The size of the $250 million tax break to the free-to-air television stations was unfavourably compared to the $10m he announced for homelessness, he couldn't answer questions about warnings to the government about the fatal housing insulation program and he had to adhere to the "stale, old" position of not debating nuclear energy.

The Prime Minister continued negative attacks on Abbott over homelessness, his accusation that Environment Minister Peter Garrett could face industrial manslaughter charges, his claim that the $250m given to the commercial television stations was an "election year bribe" and the Coalition's policy of a debate on nuclear power. These all ended in media coverage of negative issues for the government and positive television footage of Abbott making scones and talking about road safety. There's no sign yet of Kevin 07.


Australian climate target is foolhardy

No one else is unconditionally cutting emissions, so why does the Australian government aim for that?

AS a face-saver to December's collapse of the world climate negotiations, governments agreed to the Copenhagen Accord. This had vague provisions to pursue measures to limit global temperature increases to 2C.

The accord offered no guidance as to how this might be achieved but did say it would involve deep cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Accordingly, developed country governments agreed to lodge quantified measures they would adopt to reduce their emissions by 2020.

Australia has made an unconditional commitment to reduce emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels, agreeing to increase this to 15-25 per cent, conditional on an international agreement. By comparison, Canada has agreed to a conditional reduction of 17 per cent on 2005 levels; the EU a conditional 20-30 per cent on 1990 levels; Japan a conditional 25 per cent on 1990 levels; New Zealand a conditional 10-20 per cent on 1990 levels; Norway a conditional 40 per cent on 1990 levels; Russia a conditional 15-25 per cent on 1990 levels; and the US a conditional 17 per cent on 1995 levels.

Australia is the only jurisdiction to have offered an unconditional reduction in emissions by 2020. This commitment has problems. The first is that it is based on proposals that have been voted down by parliament and which, though being re-submitted, seem certain once again to be rejected. Hence, not only has the Rudd government uniquely offered to deliver something unconditionally but parliament has denied it the offer it has made.

It may be argued this doesn't matter as there is bipartisan agreement for a 5 per cent cut in emissions by 2020. At the end of January, the Coalition announced similar goals to those of the government in its climate policy. However, this is invalid for two reasons. First, the government lodged its commitment before it knew of the Coalition's plans. Second, the government has maintained the Coalition's policy will not achieve the goal it has set.

It may be argued the global warming negotiation system is a meaningless farce and everybody is merely posturing. But no other country has offered an international commitment it cannot keep. Instead, they have ensured they would not be held to account for missing any 2020 targets they might set themselves. Their submissions were accompanied by conditions. Japan's offer is "premised on the establishment of a fair and effective international framework in which all major economies participate". Canada's commitment was, "to be aligned with the final economy-wide emissions target of the US in enacted legislation". Even the EU stipulates "that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and that developing countries contribute adequately".

In contrast, the Australian government has chosen to offer a firm commitment that is quixotic. Gesture diplomacy of this nature must have repercussions on our credibility.


Hospital boss dumped for misuse of funds but details kept secret

THE boss of the Royal Children's Hospital has been dumped from the top job as Queensland Health is forced to repay thousands of dollars to the hospital's charity after it was incorrectly spent on luxury beauty treatments for nurses.

RCH chief operations manager Doug Brown has been demoted and will be relocated within the department following the completion of a two-year probe by the Crime and Misconduct Commission. Another unidentified hospital staffer has suffered a pay cut, while two other unnamed officers will undergo retraining in financial management.

Queensland Health will repay $6500 to the RCH Foundation after Mr Brown approved beauty treatments for 65 nurses as part of an alleged pay-off after they missed out on free parking.

The foundation raises money for lifesaving research but, as revealed by The Courier-Mail last year, the funds were instead spent on body polishes, manicures and pedicures at a beauty salon in 2007.

After months of insisting it would comment once the probe was finalised, Queensland Health yesterday refused to release the final report, including the findings, recommendations and exactly why certain staff were disciplined.

The demotion of Mr Brown is an embarrassment for Queensland Health after the department chose him over other candidates to run the RCH last year while he was being investigated.


Australia's Anglo-Catholics vote to submit to Rome

Forward in Faith Australia, part of the Anglo-Catholic group that also has members in Britain and America, is setting up a working party guided by a Catholic bishop to work out how its followers can cross over to Rome. It is believed to be the first group within the Anglican church to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s unprecedented offer for disaffected members of the Communion to convert en masse while retaining parts of their spiritual heritage.

So far only the Traditional Anglican Communion, which has already broken away from the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion, has declared that its members will become Catholics under the Apostolic Constitution.

The Rt Rev David Robarts OAM, chairman of FIF Australia, said members of the association felt excluded by the Anglican Church in Australia, which had not provided them with a bishop to champion their conservative views on homosexuality and women bishops. "In Australia we have tried for a quarter of a decade to get some form of episcopal oversight but we have failed," he told The Daily Telegraph. "We're not really wanted any more, our conscience is not being respected."

Bishop Robarts, 77, said it had become clear that Anglicans who did not believe in same-sex partnerships or allowing women to be ordained as bishops had no place in the "broader Anglican spectrum". "We're not shifting the furniture, we're simply saying that we have been faithful Anglicans upholding what Anglicans have always believed and we're not wanting to change anything, but we have been marginalised by people who want to introduce innovations. "We need to have bishops that believe what we believe." Crossing over to Rome under the new scheme would give the group the chance to retain their Anglican culture without sacrificing their beliefs, he said.

On Feb 13th the group unanimously voted to investigate setting up an Ordinariate - an ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church - in Australia.

It has formed a working group with a Catholic bishop, Bishop Peter Elliott, along with the breakaway TAC and the national church, ACA, to “set in train the processes necessary for establishing an Australian Ordinariate”.

Under the terms of the Vatican’s offer made last October, Anglicans who are disillusioned with the church’s liberal direction will be allowed to enter into full communion with the Holy See. But they may be able to continue using their old prayer books and church services, and will come under the pastoral care of a new bishop called an Ordinary.

Forward in Faith Australia, which is based in Melbourne, has up to 200 members, but not all are expected to convert. The group said it was committed to providing “care and support” for anyone who felt unable to be received into the Ordinariate.

Bishop Robarts said his group was the first FiF branch to "embrace" the Pope's offer so strongly. Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England have welcomed the opportunity but are waiting to see whether they will be given significant concessions on the introduction of women bishops – such as a “men-only” diocese – before deciding whether to cross the Tiber.

The Anglican Church of Australia ordained its first women priests in 1992 but so far its governing body, the General Synod, has failed to approve legislation needed to introduce women bishops.

"It's the first step on the road, saying thank you, we are going to go along this particular track because the door has been closed to us by the Anglican Church of Australia over a long period of time,” said the bishop. "I love my Anglican heritage, but I'm not going to lose it by taking this step."


TV shows video of violent cop's punch

Is it any wonder that W.A. cops have such a poor reputation in their community?

SECURITY video obtained by Channel Nine shows the violent incident outside the Court Hotel in Northbridge over which a Perth policeman has been fined $4500. It was now up to Commissioner of Police Karl O'Callaghan to decide whether to sack the officer [Is that a hard decision?] who had pleaded not guilty to assault in Perth Magistrates Court, Nine said tonight. [So he's a perjurer and unrepentant too]

The policeman had admitted punching Alan Russell outside the hotel in March last year but said he had done so in the course of arresting the man, who had been drunk and abusive. But video footage of the incident told a different story, Nine said.

Mr Russell said he had jokingly asked the policeman for drugs, Nine said. "It was unprovoked and it was very violent and I was very lucky to get out of it with the injuries I had, which weren't that severe," he told Nine outside court.

Nine said the court was told that originally Mr Russell had been accused of assaulting the policeman, but those charges had been dropped.


1 comment:

Paul said...

We knock off about 10 - 20 Cane toads per night here in suburban Cairns. Diluted Dettol does it. I know we're supposed to be humanitarian and feel the toads' pain but stuff that. We want Tree Frogs in our yard, and we want the toads gone.