About Nellie Neild – 130 Years of Women at the Royal Society of Victoria

The Society’s first female member, Helen Harriet Neild (1859 – 1907) was registered as a Member of the Royal Society of Victoria on 10th October, 1889. The second child and eldest daughter of eleven siblings in the Neild household, Nellie had been brought up as a young society woman, notably singing at the Shakespeare Society’s musical gatherings in the late 1880s. She had attended the University of Melbourne to attain a science degree, which in those early years was offered as a Bachelor of Arts under Sir Frederick McCoy’s guidance. She is identified by Dr Allan Madsley as a zoologist.

Genetic Rescue

You may not know it, but Australia is facing an extinction crisis. With the worst rate of mammalian extinction in the world, over 1,700 species of animals and plants are currently at risk of becoming extinct in Australia. The future of biodiversity conservation relies on multiple factors, including removing native animals from the dangers of introduced predators, changing the culture of clearing land, and having support of the government, conservationists, and society as a whole. These changes would help populations to recover, however when the gene pool of a species has bottlenecked so much, even if the population size increases, their genetic health will remain poor. To avoid the current health problems such as all koalas having chlamydia and Tasmanian devils having infectious facial tumours, genetic rescue is potentially the solution. With Dr Weeks and his colleagues leading the way, endangered and threatened Australian flora and fauna will hopefully flourish once again.

Woodland birds, rural towns and fragmented Box-Ironbark forests

This Deakin University study raises concern for the reproductive success of woodland birds in Box-Ironbark forests of Central Victoria. Box-Ironbark forest is of high conservation significance, with its component tree species providing year-round flowering, and thus food resources for many species of birds and animals. Many bird species, including the endangered Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia), are more abundant in Box-Ironbark than elsewhere. However, these forests in Central Victoria have become highly fragmented and structurally degraded, due primarily to the history of gold exploration and habitat clearance in the region. The study suggests that a consequence of this may be a greater abundance and widespread distribution of generalist egg predators throughout the region.