Claire Sives

Claire Sives

Role: PhD Candidate

 

Contact details:

Phone: +61 2 9385 2066

Email: c.sives@unsw.edu.au

Office: Room 510, D26 Building, UNSW, Kensington 2052

 

Research Focus:

Across Australia's rich mosaic of desert landscape, isolated temporary wetlands come and go at the whim of the weather cycle. Most animals which rely on these wetlands for shelter and food come and go too, as most have the ability to actively disperse. For example: birds and adult insects fly away, fish seek refuge in river channels and frogs aestivate. Native animals and plants have evolved to persist, and often thrive, under the 'boom and bust' ecology of the Australian desert. Despite having no active dispersal, many micro-crustaceans enjoy a wide distribution by hitch-hiking in the guts of fish and birds, travelling on the wind or in mud which is trekked across the landscape by vehicles or cattle. But, the mystery does not end there... These amazing creatures possess several strategies which allow them to persist in-situ in the harshest of Australian environments. Micro-crustaceans produce desiccation resistant eggs which lay-in-wait in wetland sediments during times of drought. When the rains come, wetlands explode with life as micro-crustaceans hatch and thrive. All in their own time other animals are drawn to the wetlands to feed and breed. As wetlands dry again, animals disperse and micro-crustaceans deposit more eggs- the cycle continues. Micro-crustaceans drive the 'boom' and survive the 'bust' of Australian semi-arid zone ecology, making them a vital component in wetland ecosystems. 

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