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Wombat conference focuses on Aussie cultural icon

Friday, 14 September 2018

Source: University of Adelaide

Experts from the world of wombats will gather for a three-day conference, titled Wombats Through Time and Space, at the University of Adelaide to discuss one of Australia’s most famous cultural icons.

A range of speakers from the scientific, government, non-government organisations, zoos, landholder and wildlife carer communities will give presentations on a wide variety of topics covering all three species of wombats.

The conference is convened by PhD candidate Michael Swinbourne from the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences.

“Because they are nocturnal and live underground, studying wombats can be a challenge, and there is still a great deal we need to learn about them,” says Mr Swinbourne.

“Whilst the southern hairy-nosed and the bare-nosed wombat are relatively common, the northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of Australia’s most endangered animals. However, thanks to a major recovery program, numbers have bounced back from a historic low of only 35 wombats less than 20 years ago, to around 240 today,” he says.

Wombats are deeply embedded in Australian culture. While most roam free, these unassuming animals are favourites at wildlife parks and zoos, and some are even kept as pets. In contrast, wombats can cause a lot of damage to farmland and infrastructure, so they are not always viewed in a positive light.

“The conference, which is open to members of the public, will enable people to potentially see wombats from a different perspective and perhaps even have current views challenged,” says Mr Swinbourne.

WHAT: Wombats Through Time and Space WHERE: The University of Adelaide, Chapman Lecture Theatre, North Terrace campus WHEN: Monday to Wednesday 17−19 September 2018, 9 am to 4 pm COST: Full conference is $110

CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday 11.30–11.45 am. Blackwood High School science project presentation: mobile burrow camera. Chapman Lecture Theatre.

Tuesday 12 noon to 1pm. Lunch with wombats. Wombats will be free to wander around attendees. Ingkarni Wardli Atrium.

Tuesday 3.30–4 pm. De novo genome and Transcriptome assemblies of the bare-nosed wombat by Seyhan Yazar (University of Tasmania). A presentation on the genome of the common wombat. Chapman Lecture Theatre

Media are welcome to attend.

Media Contacts:

Michael Swinbourne, Conference Convener, The University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61 (0)412 815 113, Email: michael.swinbourne@adelaide.edu.au

Crispin Savage, Media Adviser, The University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61 (0)481 912 465, Email: crispin.savage@adelaide.edu.au