Bum-breathing turtle's stress levels set to be monitored
NO LONGER are Queensland's most unpopular animals likely to be ones that threaten to kill us.
Just look at the ones that threaten to kill jobs, like the yakka skink and ornamental snake for example, which delayed the 10,000 jobs tipped to stem from the Carmichael coal project when Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt failed to consider them during an approval.
Despite their poor choice of home, researchers like James Cook University's Wytamma Wirth argue the contribution these animals, many of which tend to be endangered, could make to science should also be considered.
Mr Wirth's research will soon focus on the bum-breathing Irwin's Turtle, which lives in the catchment areas of the proposed Urannah Dam.
"These are some of the oldest turtles in the world. Only the Amazon has more turtle diversity than Queensland," Mr Wirth said.
"Because they are so old, they have developed unique immune system compounds, which can even lead to drug discovery."
But rather than try to stop the dam, he has laid groundwork into assessing how it will impact the little-known species.
If funding comes through, the PHD student is set to begin a project at the end of the year to assess the turtle's susceptibility to the rana virus.
Mr Wirth said evidence showed turtles were more susceptible when stressed, which a dam construction would likely lead to.
Disease outbreak was also highly correlated with industrial areas, and he said that may also affect the turtles.
After establishing a baseline with his initial testing, he would return if the dam was built and note any changes.