Home' InDaily : June 17th 2010 Contents 4|Vol21No5June2010
Flinders University has established
collaborative research and education centres
with two of China's top tier universities.
Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellors Professor
David Day and Professor Dean Forbes led a
16-strong delegation of senior academics
and administrators to attend extended
workshops with Hunan University and
Central South University, both located in
Changsha, the capital of Hunan province.
The two workshops, held in early June, have
established a Joint Research and Education
Collaboration Centre (JRECC) with each
university to act as an umbrella for ongoing
collaboration for an initial five year-period.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber
described the Centre's creation as a
"Flinders University has had a
memorandum of understanding and
ongoing involvement with both
universities since 2009: the JRECC will now
Frogs have tantrums to protect patch
The red-eyed tree frog's secret is out:
rather than croaking an attractive tune,
it uses vibrations to improve its chances
of finding a mate.
Flinders senior lecturer and
conservation biologist with Zoos SA
Dr Gregory Johnston and colleagues
from Boston University in the USA have
discovered that the flamboyantly
coloured red-eyed tree frog from Central
America uses its rear legs to send 'seismic
signals' along tree branches to ward off
rival males encroaching on its territory.
The discovery, presented in the journal
Current Biology, paves the way for "a
whole realm of possibilities" of new
research into how animals communicate.
"Unlike most species of frogs, the
red-eyed tree frog doesn't show any
evidence of females choosing a mate
with the loudest or prettiest voice,"
Dr Johnston said.
"Instead, male red-eyed tree frogs set up
territories around the edge of a pond and
sequester females and mate with them.
Females are quite indiscriminate and will
mate with several males," he said.
"Having a territory is really important to
these male frogs for getting a mate and
reproducing. By creating a vibration on a
bush, they send a clear signal to other
males to 'back off' while keeping it a
secret from predators, which cannot
detect the vibrations.
"You end up with these frogs very evenly
spaced, one frog per small bush. It's
about negotiating space."
Dr Johnston made the discovery while
observing the frogs in a Panamanian
rainforest in 1999 while working with the
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
"I saw the frogs making little tantrums at
each other and from my PhD research
into territorial lizards I recognised it as
territorial behaviour," he said.
His initial investigation, using a miniature
seismograph to measure the signals, led
to experiments over more than seven
years by his North American colleagues.
It is the first time the use of vibration as a
method of communicating has been
demonstrated in a tree-dwelling vertebrate.
Dr Johnston will be teaching in the new
Bachelor of Science (Animal Behaviour)
degree to be offered at Flinders from 2011.
Flinders teams up with two of China's best
act as a platform for intensive
collaboration across several research
areas and educational programs."
Both Chinese universities are among the
so-called '985 Project' institutions -- the
top five per cent of Chinese universities
-- that number only 39 in all.
"We have a number of key areas of
research and education in our Faculty of
Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science
and Engineering that make this
collaboration a natural match,"
Professor Barber said.
"Hunan University has a very strong
reputation for its research and education
across a wide range of engineering fields,
and there is strong potential for
co-operative ventures with Flinders in
some of our areas of strength such as
chemical engineering, material sciences
and nanotechnology, environmental
engineering and biotechnology," he said.
"Central South University is well known for
its medical research and education, offering
opportunities to engage with Flinders
University's expertise in biomedical
engineering, nanotechnology and
biotechnology, reproductive medicine and
cancer medicine, and also with our programs
in public health, nutrition and dietetics,
general practice and nursing and midwifery."
Professor Barber said successfully
establishing close links with two large and
prominent Chinese universities was a highly
significant step for Flinders and for Australian
"The Centre will contribute substantially to
the ambitions of internationalisation among
all three universities, and will facilitate
government and industrial funding support
for teaching and research programs in both
countries," he said.
"We see this as the conduit for a long and
Dr Greg Johnston in Panama
Red-eyed tree frogs
Links Archive June 16th 2010 June 18th 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page