Biomes Project Themes

Guitar in Flames

The English language is littered with clichés linking hot weather and aggressive behaviour, but is it true? My research uses empirical datasets like crime, hospital admissions and even social media sentiment to see how temperature affects the likehood of aggression. The findings show striking inequalities – the effects of temperature on violence are not the same for us all.


This research is especially pressing considering we are moving into a warming world


Hot and hostile; interpersonal violence increases with temperature


Scientist: Heather R Stevens


African Masai in Traditional Dress

Understanding traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles in our modern world is fundamental to our understanding of their viability, as well as the role of humans as predators in structuring ecosystems.  What drives the prey preferences? Human prey preferences are driven by whether prey are arboreal or terrestrial, the threats the prey afforded hunters, and prey body mass. Variation in the size of prey species pursued by hunter-gatherers across each continent is a reflection of the local size spectrum of available prey, and historical or prehistorical prey depletion during the Holocene. The nature of human subsistence hunting reflects the ability to use a range of weapons and techniques to capture food, and the prey deficient wildlands where people living traditional lifestyles persist.


Hunting and gathering: The human footprint on the planet


Scientist: Cassandra Bugir

Suggestion: This piece might suit scultping/creating smaller pieces to tell the story.


Beautiful Gray Cat

Monitoring of free-roaming pet cat movements shows they spend most of their time outside of their house. As both urban and vegetated spaces in patchy urban landscapes provide habitat for native wildlife, pet cat activity across both habitat types requires management action. The need to simultaneously manage both of these threats is particularly acute in urban areas that are increasingly being recognized as hotspots of wildlife activity. Pressures from altered predator-prey interactions and human activity may each initiate fear responses in prey species above those that are triggered by natural stressors in ecosystems. If fear responses are experienced by native wildlife, then physiologically damaging stress impacts may occur and be fatal. These effects can arise due to the ‘landscapes of fear’ that prey individuals perceive – making their decisions on their interactions with stressors, like predators or human activity, or their cues, like scents or sounds.


Landscapes of fear: how pet cat, red fox and human activity impact native wildlife in urban spaces


Scientist: Loren Fardell


Koala in Zoo

The Port Stephens koala population is one of the last remaining strongholds for koalas in NSW, but habitat fragmentation and degradation are causing it to decline. As a result there are very few areas on the peninsula frequently used by koalas. Koalas residing in the remaining high-quality habitat are confined to small, isolated patches in residential areas where they are exposed to threats. In recent years, vehicle collisions have become the primary driver of koala decline. High roads speeds are associated with increased vehicle collisions with koalas and collisions occur mostly in urban areas with very little vegetation and trees. A significant koala population decline since 2012 identifies vehicles a likely key contributor. If we continue to allow land clearing and habitat fragmentation for coastal development, our koalas will face localised extinction.


Coastal development and land use conflicts with koalas


Scientist: Shelby Ryan


Plastic Bag on Beach

We are creating an interactive game where participants will sort various rubbish items into the correct bins (landfill, recycling, soft plastics, compost and other). The game aims to educate participants in how to correctly sort and dispose of rubbish in the home.

We are hoping to create an art piece to go alongside this that will raise awareness regarding the amount and type of rubbish currently produced by the average household each week.

An infographic will also be created to inform participants how they can reduce the amount of rubbish produced in the home.


Kicking the habit.


Scientist/Engineer: Alana Burton & Astral Lee

1. Art piece - amount of rubbish produced by an average household in a week (some sort of artwork providing a visual representation of the amount of waste produced by the average family each week. Potential idea is a piegraph on a round dining room table)

2. Infographic - Artistic display of information generated by scientist on how to reduce the 'rubbish footprint'