student profile: Ms Jayne Hanford


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Life in Constructed Wetlands: Striking a Balance Between Conservation and Public Health

Supervisors: Cameron WEBB , Dieter HOCHULI

Thesis abstract:

Wetlands in urban areas are frequently constructed to improve stormwater quality and aquatic health. These wetlands can also provide important refuge habitat and connectivity within the urban landscape. However, urban wetlands are often perceived to proliferate nuisance-biting and pathogen-transmitting mosquitoes which can, in severe cases, erode goodwill in the community for protecting these valuable ecosystems. The broad aim of my PhD research is to improve our understanding of the dynamics between mosquito-related public health risks and biodiversity value of urban wetlands to inform science-based management for conservation and human utility.

I have selected 24 wetlands across the Sydney region, Australia, including purpose-built stormwater treatment wetlands, natural wetlands that receive stormwater and natural wetlands that do not directly receive stormwater. Wetlands span the gradient from highly urbanised surrounding land use to semi-rural areas adjacent to National Parks. Aquatic macroinvertebrates comprise a large component of wetland biodiversity and are widely regarded as central to the functioning of wetland ecosystems. I will compare responses of mosquito assemblages and aquatic macroinvertebrates to physical wetland variables, and investigate the effects of aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages, wetland function and the invasive mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki, on mosquito assemblages with a particular focus on species of known public health significance.

I am currently sampling aquatic macroinvertebrates using sweep netting, mosquito larvae using ladling, adult mosquitoes using carbon dioxide-baited EVS traps, and G. holbrooki using box traps. Wetland physical features will be surveyed in the field and using Geographic Information System data. I will also use in situ decomposition experiments to assess ecosystem function, and mesocosm experiments to examine mosquito oviposition preferences with respect to habitat availability and predator abundance.

Approaching the ecology of urban wetlands through the lens of mosquito-related public health risks offers a novel, multi-disciplinary approach to understanding fragmented urban systems that must fulfill human as well and environmental needs if they are to be successful and sustainable. Greater understanding of relationships between biodiversity value and mosquitoes will improve wetland management policy and integration of wetland conservation into our built environments, while minimizing the public health risks posed by mosquitoes. 

Selected grants

2015

  • Conflicts between Conservation and Public Health: Investigating Ecological Interactions among Mosquito Assemblages and Wetland Biodiversity; Hochuli D, Hanford J, Webb C; Equity Trustees Limited/Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Hanford, J., Crowther, M., Hochuli, D. (2017). Effectiveness of vegetation-based biodiversity offset metrics as surrogates for ants. Conservation Biology, 31(1), 161-171. [More Information]

2017

  • Hanford, J., Crowther, M., Hochuli, D. (2017). Effectiveness of vegetation-based biodiversity offset metrics as surrogates for ants. Conservation Biology, 31(1), 161-171. [More Information]

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.