On over­seas hunt for Aussie species

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

VIC­TO­RIA Park res­i­dent and WA Mu­seum mam­mals cu­ra­tor Kenny Travouil­lon has been named as a one of the 2016 Churchill Fel­lows, which will al­low him to travel over­seas for fur­ther stud­ies.

Dr Travouil­lon will go to Lon­don, Paris, Genoa and the US next year to look at spec­i­mens of bandi­coots and bil­bies in mu­se­ums to help iden­tify mores species.

“I was pre­vi­ously look­ing at fos­sil species but I’m cur­rently look­ing at liv­ing species in­clud­ing bandi­coots,” he said.

“I’m look­ing to name new species. Back in the 1800s the English found a new species and took them back to Europe.

“In the 1950s through to the 70s, there was a push to sim­plify the num­ber of species so they got lumped to­gether.

Dr Travouil­lon said when he went to each lo­ca­tion he would be mea­sur­ing and look­ing at the shape of skulls.

“Now with DNA, we can look at old spec­i­mens and work out what species they be­long to,” he said.

“I be­lieve there are mul­ti­ple species of bandi­coots and bil­bies out there, some might still be alive and some might be ex­tinct.

“Once I come back to WA, I’ll look at the data and see if they are valid or not but for me this is a unique and ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity.

“I think the end prod­uct of the project is re­lated to con­ser­va­tion and mak­ing sure the re­main­ing species are looked af­ter.”

The schol­ar­ship is thanks to the Win­ston Churchill Memo­rial Trust and Dr Travouil­lon is among 15 West Aus­tralians who will be able to travel the globe to re­search a topic close to them.

Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Adam Davey said the Churchill Fel­lows were driven by pas­sion to im­prove the well­be­ing of their com­mu­ni­ties.

“It is an ex­tremely ex­cit­ing time for all our new Fel­lows, who have taken grasp of the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand their own knowl­edge for the ben­e­fit of our coun­try,” he said.

Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dent Kenny Travouil­lon.

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