Potential student projects

Would you like to do an Honours project with urban bandicoots? If you’re eligible to start Honours in 2018, please get in touch to discuss project ideas. Below are a few projects that would make great Honours projects.



Are foxes a threat to urban bandicoots?

To understand whether feral foxes pose a threat to bandicoots within the City of Mandurah, we need to know some basic information about where foxes are going and what they are doing in urban areas. Possible methods to gather this information include GPS tracking of foxes and using motion-sensor cameras to examine fox presence/absence across the urban landscape.

Bandicoots on campus

Quenda are regularly seen on Murdoch University campus.  We would like to know whether these animals select specific habitat and how vegetation clearing can influence their habitat selection.  The project will involve using camera traps to record presence, as well as GPS trackers to identify how they move across campus.  These data will be compared with population estimates from mark-recapture studies. Please contact Kate Bryant to discuss this project (K.Bryant@murdoch.edu.au).

Social science

Nature Relatedness and Community Wellbeing (PhD or components for Honours)

The City of Mandurah has identified that its community feels a strong affiliation with the environment. Recent research has shown that higher levels of ‘nature relatedness’ (NR) is associated with increased overall psychological well-being and vitality (Brymer, 2016). NR is also a strong predictor of visitation to local greenspace, and predicts meeting of physical activity guidelines. Australian research shows that for urban residents, people living in areas with higher tree canopy have increased NR scores. It is argued that maintaining the availability of nature close to home is therefore a critical step in safeguarding psychological and physical well-being (Shanahan, 2017). An opportunity exists to examine how engagement in community
planting events influences NR, and if engagement in such events can be linked to improved social outcomes in CoM. For more information, please contact Catherine Baudains c.baudains@murdoch.edu.au.

Community wellbeing and education

The cognitive benefits of spending time in ‘green space’ has been well documented (Berman et al , 2012; Bratman et al, 2015). Student academic performance has also been shown to improve with increasing time spent exposed to nature (Matsuoka, 2010). School proximity to natural
environments has been associated with improved academic performance (Wu et al 2014; Dadvand, 2015). It would be interesting to examine the level of nature-relatedness of students engaged with the ‘Backyard Bandicoots’ project and other CoM environmental education projects, with students from schools from the region which are not participating in these projects. For more information, please contact Catherine Baudains c.baudains@murdoch.edu.au.

Does the use of a ‘flagship’ species increase participation and engagement in community planting/ecological restoration events (PhD or components for Honours)

Most Local Government and NGO organisations depend heavily on volunteer participation to achieve important conservation outcomes through community planting days. There is some evidence in the environmental education literature that a whole of system educational approach to events can increase engagement and participation. This project could examine how using the Quenda and its role as an ecosystem engineer can improve engagement of community volunteers in planting days and long term ecological restoration projects.  For more information, please contact Catherine Baudains c.baudains@murdoch.edu.au.

Volunteering, sense of place and engagement with local conservation and ecological restoration efforts (PhD or components for Honours)

This project could consider the drivers for volunteering and examine if they have changed over time. It would follow on from earlier work by Buizer, Kurz & Ruthroff (2011) and further explore volunteering in the context of environmental change and restoration outcomes. It could be an alternative way to examine the way in which participation in ecological restoration influences Nature Relatedness, and allow exploration of the role different educational and marketing strategies have on participant engagement. This would be a primarily qualitative study. For more information, please contact Catherine Baudains c.baudains@murdoch.edu.au.

Is there a connection between gardening choices and the presence/absence of bandicoots in CoM? (PhD or components for Honours)

Recent research has highlighted the importance of using both ecological and Social research methods for examining the health of endemic species in urban settings (Bartholomaeus 2016). It is likely that choices about the species planted and the structure of gardens in urban areas will influence the usefulness of the space for Quenda. This project will explore the patterns of Quenda movement in the urban area in conjunction with the patterns of resident knowledge, attitudes and gardening behaviour. For more information, please contact Catherine Baudains c.baudains@murdoch.edu.au.

Who cares about Backyard Bandicoots? (Honours)

This small research project would use survey data to explore the knowledge and perceptions of CoM residents in relation to Quenda. It would use survey methodology to explore residents knowledge relating to: Quenda habitat needs, threats and inappropriate interaction (feeding). It would examine how/where residents are sourcing their information, and how willing they may
be to adopt new information/behaviours. The project would provide useful information for the development of education programs and information dissemination techniques. For more information, please contact Catherine Baudains c.baudains@murdoch.edu.au.