Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Collected Works - Theses

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    An investigation into the role Toxoplasma gondii may play in the health of the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus) and an assessment of environmental contamination with T. gondii
    Breidahl, Amanda Jane ( 2020)
    The southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus), a small, ground-dwelling marsupial, is listed as ‘endangered’ under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. While many factors contributing to population decline are understood, in particular predation and loss of high-quality, connected habitat, there is a lack of knowledge about other threatening processes, including disease, which has contributed to declines in other small mammal species. Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan intracellular parasite, excreted into the environment by cats, has been shown to cause clinical disease, including death, in many small and medium sized captive and free-ranging marsupials, including the eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii). Little is known of its effect on southern brown bandicoot populations. This study aimed to investigate the significance of T. gondii to the health of southern brown bandicoot populations on the northern hinterland of Western Port, Victoria and methods of predicting probability of infection with environmental T. gondii. A series of necropsies was performed on 33 southern brown bandicoots collected opportunistically over a five-year period. The causes of death were identified as motor vehicle trauma (22); predation (4); ejected pouch young (2); drowning (1); pyometra (1); possible toxicity and stomach bloating through lentil ingestion (1) and unknown (2). Real-time qPCR was performed on tissues from 30 cases, all of which were negative for the presence of T. gondii DNA. A range of helminths and ectoparasites were collected and identified, most of which had been previously been reported in this species. However, a metastrongyloid helminth species, found by histopathology in the lungs, is reported for the first time in a southern brown bandicoot. To assess environmental contamination with T. gondii, two sites with different cat densities were compared. Seroprevalence of antibodies to T. gondii (n=24) using the Modified Agglutination Technique was performed on trapped southern brown bandicoots. No evidence of infection with T. gondii was found at either site. Molecular (qPCR) methods were used to measure T. gondii oocyst presence in soil samples (n= 594) and prevalence of T. gondii in tissues of rabbits (n=118) and mice (n=267). All tests were negative across both sites except for the presence of T. gondii in one rabbit (prevalence 0.85%). These results suggest that rabbits and mice may have the potential to be reliable sentinel species and inform conservation management of the probability of infection with T. gondii in small marsupials. The results from this study are consistent with the concept that opportunistic necropsy is a valuable strategy for passive disease and cause of death surveillance in native wildlife. No evidence was found that T. gondii was impacting the health of southern brown bandicoots, however, further longitudinal health surveys are necessary to determine the true prevalence of disease and causes of mortality. Further studies are recommended to confirm the effectiveness of mice and rabbits as potential sentinel species in a range of ecosystems, including those environments which have higher levels of contamination with T. gondii.
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    Investigations into the critical aspects of the health and welfare of the bobby calves and dairy cows in Victorian dairy systems
    Pallab, Monoar Sayeed ( 2019)
    Animal welfare is becoming critical to the general public, farmers and dairy industry. In Australian dairy farming systems, maintenance of good welfare of large numbers of surplus non-replacement young male dairy calves (bobby calves) that go for slaughter at an early age of 5 to 10 days old is essential. Another major area of concern for the sustainable dairy industry in Australia is the active control measures against infectious pathogens that may cause severe diseases and production loss such as enteric pathogens in neonatal calves and Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) infection in cattle. This thesis examines the health and welfare conditions of bobby calves after transportation for slaughter and the potential of bobby calf blood samples to detect herd level M. bovis infection in dairy cattle in Victoria, Australia. Blood samples from bobby calves were collected at a commercial abattoir in Victoria after transportation and lairage to assess their welfare by examining plasma biochemical profile. A quarter of the calves had a failure of passive transfer with a variation of passive immune status depending on which region they came from suggesting colostrum management practices are not similar in all the farms. Very few calves experienced severe hypoglycaemia and dehydration before slaughter. However, most of the calves had higher plasma creatine kinase and lactate indicative of muscular fatigue. It is not clear from this study whether increased creatine kinase was also due to the muscular bruising in calves. Distance or duration of journey and lairage time had no significant effect on energy metabolites, hydration state or muscular fatigue in bobby calves before slaughter. Most of the calves at the time of slaughter showed no evidence of substantial physiological compromise, and there was no significant association either between the transport distance and plasma analytes nor between the total duration of transport and lairage in relation with plasma analytes. These results highlight that bobby calves can be well managed from the property of origin to abattoir under existing management system in Victoria without unduly compromising their welfare. The enteric pathogen E. coli K99 was the most common pathogen (37.4%) followed by bovine rotavirus (8.1%), Salmonella spp. (5.1%) and bovine coronavirus (2.6%) in the faeces of bobby calves after their transportation. Infected calves with the higher acquisition of passive immunity had lower amounts of bovine rotavirus (BRV), bovine coronavirus (BCV) and Salmonella spp. in faeces. Hypoglycaemia was associated with increased amounts of shedding of E. coli K99 and BRV in the faeces of infected calves. Increased distance of transportation was associated with a higher excretion of BRV only. Breed and sex had no influence on pathogen prevalence in the faeces. This study highlights that the prevalence of major enteric pathogens in bobby calves is minimal except E. coli K99 compared to previously reported prevalence of enteric pathogens in Australian dairy calves with diarrhoea, and higher acquisition of passive immunity may play an important role in lowering pathogen load in faeces of infected calves. The potential for bobby calf blood samples to be used to detect maternal antibody against M. bovis for the estimation of herd-level M. bovis prevalence in dairy cattle in Victoria was also assessed. Antibodies were detected using antibody capture ELISA. Sera were evaluated for adequate transfer of passive immunity before screening for M. bovis specific maternal antibody. All the M. bovis positive samples were detected from the sera with adequate passive immunity which was consistent with M. bovis specific antibody being transferred from cows to bobby calves. A proportion of 33.3% and 32.9% positive herds against M. bovis were detected in the northern and south-eastern dairy region respectively. These results indicate that M. bovis is a common pathogen in the major dairy regions in Victoria. This study also suggests that the collection of blood from bobby calves at the abattoir is convenient and could be used as a source of samples for M. bovis prevalence and surveillance study in Victoria, Australia.
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    Burnley Gardens landscape conservation analysis
    McPhee, C. ; Andrews, L. ( 2002)
    Burnley Gardens has a history spanning 140 years. Its history parallels much of Victoria's history. From its earliest beginnings in 1861, it was involved in the assessment of produce for the growing colony. This vital work was undertaken by a group of prominent citizens, including Ferdinand von Mueller, and their society later became Victoria's Royal Horticultural Society. A victim of Australia's first Depression, Burnley Gardens was acquired in 1891 by the Victorian government, where it established Australia's first school of horticulture. So began its role in horticultural education in Australia, championing educational opportunities for women at a time when these were both controversial and limited. By promoting their admission and in many cases employing them as teachers, it provided support for the tenuous careers of Australia's pioneering women landscape designers. The changing needs of the workforce and the economy meant a shift in emphasis between production horticulture, agriculture, and amenity horticulture. Throughout au these changes, the grounds were used as an outdoor laboratory, with trialling of plants and education of students and the public undertaken. Burnley graduates were employed throughout Australia in every sphere of horticulture, and the Burnley method of horticultural practice was widespread throughout the country, influencing generations of people in the horticultural field. As a government institution, social policy was also implemented at Burnley. The initial geometric and symmetrical form of Burnley Gardens was redesigned between 1897 and 1907 in the English derived 'free' or landscape style, and though an actively utilised teaching garden, it has matured into a landscape of great ambience and beauty. Throughout its long history, Burnley Gardens has provided pleasure and respite from the neighbouring industrialized experience of Richmond, and for the wider Melbourne community. Burnley Gardens is of historic, social, scientific and aesthetic cultural significance to Victoria and Australia and holds a unique place in the history of this country.
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    A history of Burnley Gardens 1860-1939
    Andrews, Lee ( 2000)
    Historic Burnley Gardens in Richmond, Victoria are now part of the University of Melbourne. Horticultural and educational activities have existed on this site since the 1860's and 1890's respectively, with the Gardens initially established for testing fruit and produce to introduce into cultivation in the new colony of Victoria. Despite previous research into the history of the Gardens, the very early period around the time of establishment was not clear, and while it was known that many old and venerable trees grew on the site, it was not clear when they were planted, or the form that the early layout of the Gardens took. A two part research project was undertaken to answer these questions. Using documentary evidence and oral histories (where possible), the history of the Gardens from 1860 to 1939 was examined. A physical survey of the grounds was then carried out to determine what remained today from that period. Early photographs, plant lists, maps and plans were used to determine the position of previous driveways, fences and garden borders. Maps were drawn up to show the physical evolution of the Gardens over the time period being examined. As the Gardens' planting and design largely reflected the educational themes of the school on the site since education began on it in 1891, these themes have been linked to the Gardens' development. The remaining plant material such as trees, shrubs and climbers, path layout and surfacing material, buildings, rock structures, and water features were examined and recorded. The Gardens as it was up to 1939 was then contrasted with the Gardens as it is at the present time, with remaining plantings, layout and features identified. As a result, the history of the Burnley Gardens from 1860 to 1939 was able to be clarified, and a surprisingly large amount of extant material found.