Research Projects

Australia-wide Indigenous biocultural research syntheses and analyses

Through the Australian Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) ACEAS Indigenous Biocultural Knowledge Working Group and the Ecological Society of Australia, Dr Ens has worked with may colleagues to produce national syntheses and analyses of Indigenous biocultural Knowledge documentation, Indigenous Ecology and Cross-cultural (or Two-way) Ecology.

Some project publications:

Ens, E. J., Pert, P., Clarke, P. A., Budden, M., Clubb, L., Doran, B., . . . Wason, S. (2015). Indigenous biocultural knowledge in ecosystem science and management: Review and insight from Australia. Biological Conservation, 181, 133-149.

Ens, E. J., Finlayson, M., Preuss, K., Jackson, S., & Holcombe, S. (2012). Australian approaches for managing ‘country’ using Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge. Ecological Management and Restoration, 13(1), 100-107

Collaborative research with the Yugul Mangi Rangers, SE Arnhem Land, since 2008

Fencing culturally important billabongs and collaborative monitoring of ecocultural outcomes

P1100604In 2009, with funding from the Greening Australia NT “Healthy Water program” we fenced off three culturally significant billabongs near Ngukurr community with the Yugul Mangi Rangers, and monitored the eco-cultural outcomes until 2015. The Ngukurr Yangbala Project continued this project (funded by TNC), and with PhD student Shaina Russell, conducted further monitoring of billabongs and the microbial contamination (and potential effects on human health) by feral buffalo and pigs.

Some project publications:

Ens, E., Daniels, C., Nelson, E., Roy, J., & Dixon, P. (2016). Creating multi-functional landscapes: Using exclusion fences to frame feral ungulate management preferences in remote Aboriginal-owned northern Australia. Biological Conservation, 197, 235-246

Russell, S., Ens, E. and Ngukurr Yangbala Rangers (2020). ‘We don’t want to drink that water’: cross-cultural indicators of billabong water quality in remote Indigenous Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 71(10), 1221-1233.

Russell, S., Power, M., & Ens, E. (2020). Cryptosporidium and Giardia in feral water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in the South East arnhem land indigenous protected area, Australia. Parasitology Research, 119, 2149-2157.

Russell, S., Ens, E., & Ngukurr Yangbala Rangers (2020). Connection as Country: Relational values of billabongs in Indigenous northern Australia. Ecosystem Services, 45, 101169.

Cross-cultural Biodiversity research

surveysSince 2013 we have worked with Indigenous Ranger groups and communities to conduct biodiversity surveys across eastern Arnhem Land – an area little known to Western science and where local Aboriginal people have only limited access. This project received funding from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Atlas of Living Australia and the Australian Government Department of Business, Industry and Innovation’s Citizen Science Grant program. In 2021 we received an ARC Linkage Grant to expand this research.

See some of our blogs on the Atlas of Living Australia website such as:

Some Project Publications:

Ens, E., Daniels, C., Scott, M. L., Harris, S., Roberts, M., Wurramarrba, M., Kitchener, B., Russell, S., Philips , J., Ngukurr Knowlwdge Holders, Yugul Mangi Rangers, & Ngukurr Language Centre (2020). Cross-cultural guide to some animals and plants of South East Arnhem Land. Batchelor Institute Press.

Ens, E., Scott, M. L., Rangers, Y. M., Moritz, C., & Pirzl, R. (2016). Putting indigenous conservation policy into practice delivers biodiversity and cultural benefits. Biodiversity and Conservation, 25(14), 2889-2906.

Freshwater and coastal wetland monitoring

Gurrumuru 2013.2Since 2009 we have worked with the Yirralka Rangers to collaboratively monitor freshwater and coastal wetlands in the Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area. PhD student Daniel Sloane joined the team in 2017 with a focus on floodplain fringe forest decline. In 2020 we were successful in obtaining an ARC Likage Grant for this project to expand the research and work with soil scientists, hydrogremorphologists and remote sensing experts from the Dept of Enviro Sciences at Macquarie University.

Sloane, D. R., Ens, E., Wunungmurra, J., Falk, A., Marika, G., Maymuru, M., . . . , Yirralka Rangers (2019). Western and Indigenous knowledge converge to explain Melaleuca forest dieback on Aboriginal land in northern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 70(1), 125-139

Sloane, D. R., Ens, E., Wunungmurra, Y., Gumana, Y., Wunungmurra, B., Wirrpanda, M., . . . Rangers, Y. (2021). Lessons from old fenced plots: Eco-cultural Impacts of feral ungulates and potential decline in sea-level rise resilience of coastal floodplains in northern Australia. Ecological Management & Restoration, 22(2), 191-203.

Prehistoric Aboriginal Plant dispersal (ARCDP 2018-2022)

Phone photos 204Initial research in 2015-6 investigated the prehistoric dispersal of Bugam (Castanospermum australe) in northern NSW by Aboriginal people Following ARC funding we have now been able to expand this research to explore the dispersal of 3 large seeded rainforest trees across eastern Australia. Patrick Cooke and Monica fahey are conducting their PhD research on the cultural and genetic aspects of this project, respectively. This project is co-lead by Dr Maurizio Rossetto (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney), Gerry Turpin (Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre), Oliver Costello (Firesticks Alliance) and Dr Philip Clarke (SA Museum Adjunct Fellow).

Wuyagiba Study Hub

wuyagibaIn partnership with the Wuyagiba Bush Hub Aboriginal Corporation we are creating cross-cultural University education programs on-Country in remote Australia in partnership with remote Aboriginal communities. See the website here

Impacts of climate change on coastal Indigenous cultural heritage sites in Sydney Harbour (new project)