SCU student astounds scientific minds with new discovery

Jesse Leland's research could significantly impact the sustainable management of Australia's crustacean fisheries.
Jesse Leland's research could significantly impact the sustainable management of Australia's crustacean fisheries.

A GROUND-BREAKING discovery which could revolutionise Australia's fisheries has earned a Southern Cross University student a major government grant and the respect of scientists around the world.

Super student Jesse Leland was working with the Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses when he found the age of crustaceans could be determined by calcified structures, like stomach bones.

His work was published in the Canadian Aquatic Science Journal and this week, he was presented with an Australian Government Science and Innovation Award and $17,000 grant to further his research over the next 12 months.

Jesse, a doctoral candidate at SCU's School of Environment, Science and Engineering, believes the research could significantly impact the sustainable management of the nation's crustacean fisheries by providing growth parameters for two key species - the mud crab and the red claw crayfish.

"Knowledge of age, growth rate and lifespan is critical for understanding important events in a species' life history including reproductive maturity, entry into the fishery and natural mortality," said Jesse.

"In the past, direct age determination for crustaceans was impossible because it was presumed that growth by moulting excluded the possibility of a permanent growth record in their exoskeleton. Only indirect, and somewhat imprecise, methods for age estimation were available."

The research tracks "growth marks" on different species.

Scientists in Canada found, that as Jesse predicted, the marks changed annually in species such as the America lobster.

Jesse said the challenge would now be demonstrating that the same growth marks appeared in warmer waters.

Topics:  australian government biology environment mud crab science scu southern cross university

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