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By Stephen Luntz

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Water Rat Water Testers
Water rat numbers serve as good indicators of the health of wetlands, so their decline in southern-western Australia is a concern.

“Little is known about the Australian water rat. They are severely under-researched all over Australia, with most research occurring in the 1950s – this just comprised of vague habitat descriptions or animal sightings,” says Ms Clair Smart, who surveyed lakes and wetlands in metropolitan Perth for her Honours thesis at the University of Western Australia.

“A large amount of wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain have been destroyed and, of those remaining, many are degraded, polluted, contaminated or drying out,” Smart says.

In addition to the effects of water diversion and drought, Smart found that populations of the native mammals are affected by lead pollution but benefit from the greater productivity of iron-rich waters.

Smart is seeking opportunities to translocate water rats to healthier wetlands.

Slow Food for Weight Loss
Speed of eating is a powerful predictor of weight, at least among middle-aged women, according to University of Otago researcher Dr Caroline Horwath.

“For every one-step increase in a five-step scale ranging from ‘very slow’ eating to ‘very fast’, the women’s BMI increased by 2.8%, which is equivalent to a 1.95...

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