Dbytes #209 (25 August 2015)

A note from the Editor to Dbytes readers

Dear Dbytes reader(s)

I am about to go on extended leave (for Sept-Oct 2015). I will still be working a few hours each week but several of my functions (such as maintaining this dbytes archive and producing Decision Point) will not be done. Dbytes will still come out but only as a direct email. If you would like to continue to see Dbytes you’ll need to be added to our email list. Simply email me at david.salt@anu.edu.au and I’ll add you to the list.

Regards

David

 

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“Valuing a species based on their services is not valuing a species.”
Clive Spash (as tweeted by Jen Shook, see item 5)

General News

1. Senate Committee on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015

2. Consultation on draft policy statement on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act

3. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter, riskier world: five challenges for Australian agriculture

4. Australia’s ‘other’ reef is worth more than $10 billion a year – but have you heard of it?

5. Some ICCB highlights

EDG News General

EDG News: NESP TSR Hub website up and running
Perth: Matthew Daws and colleagues on fertilisation and jarrah forest restoration
Brisbane: Kerrie Wilson and Colleen Corrigan finalists in 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards
Melbourne: Peter Vesk and Colleagues on habitat restoration and grey-crowned babblers
Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the Ledbetter’s possum (RN Background Briefing)

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General News

1. Senate Committee on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 On 20 August 2015 the Senate referred the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 for inquiry and report. The bill would repeal section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (section 487 currently extends standing to seek judicial review of decisions to certain individuals, organisations and associations). The closing date for submissions is Friday, 11 September 2015. The reporting date is Monday, 12 October 2015. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/EPBC_Standing_Bill For background on these proposed changes see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/18/coalition-to-remove-green-groups-right-to-challenge-after-carmichael-setback

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2. Consultation on draft policy statement on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act The Department of the Environment has released a draft policy statement providing guidance on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act. Advanced environmental offsets are a supply of offsets for future use, transfer or sale by proponents or offset providers. Unlike conventional offsets, which are generally put in place to compensate for the residual adverse significant impacts of an action following approval, advanced offsets are put in place before any impact occurs. The policy statement is open for public comment to 12 October 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/consultation/policy-statement-advanced-environmental-offsets

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3. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter, riskier world: five challenges for Australian agriculture You don’t need a crystal ball to know Australia’s rural industries will face significant change at global, national and local levels over the coming decades. This will create opportunities and challenges for small and large farms, and will affect rural lifestyles, agricultural landscapes and Australia’s society and economy. In a new report, we describe this future through a series of interlinked “megatrends” set to hit Australia over the coming 20 years. As we describe below, each prompts some serious questions (or “conversation-starters”, as we have termed them) for Australian farmers. We don’t yet know the answers, but we do know they will be crucial for how the industry fares in the future. https://theconversation.com/a-hungrier-wealthier-choosier-smarter-riskier-world-five-challenges-for-australian-agriculture-46183

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4. Australia’s ‘other’ reef is worth more than $10 billion a year – but have you heard of it? “You’ve heard of the Great Barrier Reef – but what about its southern equivalent? The Great Southern Reef covers 71,000 square km. Its kelp forests contain unique and diverse marine life by global standards, and it contributes more than A$10 billion to Australia’s economy each year. Although most Australians live and play around the Great Southern Reef, they have little awareness of its value and significance, and too few resources are allocated to understanding it. This paradox has been revealed by new research in collaboration among scientists across southern Australia.” quote: Over the past five years, the Australian Research Council has awarded more than A$55 million to coral reef research compared to only A$4 million awarded to temperate reef research.” https://theconversation.com/australias-other-reef-is-worth-more-than-10-billion-a-year-but-have-you-heard-of-it-45600

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5. Some ICCB highlights

Megan Evans provides some links to tweets and highlights of the recent ICCB conference in Montpelier, France. The Kareiva vs Spash tweet set is very interesting. For anyone who may be interested in a couple of the key plenary talks at the ICCB, here’s some online summaries: Peter Kareiva vs Clive Spash https://storify.com/jocelynesze/iccb-2015-kareiva-vs-spash Carl Jones https://storify.com/DurrellScience/carl-jones-iccb2015 And a general summary of the conference: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/06/what-a-group-of-2000-biologists-talk-about-may-surprise-you/ -~<>~-

EDG News

General News: NESP TSR Hub website up and running Established in June 2015 the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is establishing research projects across the country. The Hub will capture its research in science papers, project products, policy discussions and corporate communications that are used to build a better understanding of threatened species status and inform management options. http://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/contact

Perth: Matthew Daws and colleagues on fertilisation and jarrah forest restoration “Phosphorus fertilisers are often applied to kick-start ecological restoration. Similarly, the seeding and establishment of nitrogen-fixing plant species is considered beneficial as these species are assumed to facilitate the establishment of other plant species and to re-establish nutrient cycling. Surprisingly, these assumptions are rarely tested. A recently published study describes the results of a field experiment to test the effects of P-fertiliser and large legumes on the establishment of jarrah forest after bauxite mining. The study helped to identify the optimal restoration practice for restoring vegetation cover, while at the same time maximising tree growth and species richness of restored forest. Ref: Daws, M.I., Standish, R.J., Koch, J.M., Morald, T.K., Tibbett, M., Hobbs, R.J. (2015) Phosphorus fertilisation and large legume species affect jarrah forest restoration after bauxite mining. Forest Ecology and Management 354:10-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2015.07.003

Brisbane: Kerrie Wilson and Colleen Corrigan finalists in 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards Congratulations to Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson and Ms Colleen Corrigan from CEED who have been selected as a finalists for the 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards. Kerrie is up for a ‘Life Sciences Research Award’ while Colleen is in the running for the ‘PhD Career Start Award. This year is the 18th anniversary of the WIT awards, and winners will be announced at a Gala Black Tie Dinner held on Friday 28th of August, 2015. http://www.wit.org.au/Resources/Documents/Media/WiT%20finalists%20announced.pdf

Melbourne: Peter Vesk and Colleagues on habitat restoration and grey-crowned babblers “Our new paper in PLOS assesses the habitat restoration project targeted at improving the population viability of Grey-crowned Babblers, a long-lived, colonial-nesting, woodland bird, in decline in SE Australia. This is an important complement to what is known from projects in the UK and Europe, for instance, owing to the recent history of clearing and habitat restoration and the ongoing decline of these and other woodland birds in Australia. Our work quantifies the contribution of local habitat restoration to local population status of this bird, as measured by local group size. Sampling in two periods 13 years apart, in control and restored sites, we demonstrate that the average family group size of babblers has declined, but that where habitat restoration has been carried out, those declines have been offset. This work advances the assessment of ecological restoration projects, by demonstrating rigorous sampling and modelling of a sensible response variable. It advances the mechanistic understanding of how restoration functions and provides a basis for managers to estimate the restoration work needed to improve the population status of this bird. I hope folks enjoy the paper and I hope it helps to demonstrate how good use can be made of existing data, coupled with good design for collecting new data. We need to know the effectiveness of past investments.” Ref: Vesk PA, Robinson D, van der Ree R, Wilson CM, Saywell S, McCarthy MA (2015) Demographic Effects of Habitat Restoration for the Grey-Crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis, in Victoria, Australia. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0130153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130153 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130153

Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the Ledbetter’s possum (RN Background Briefing) “Victoria’s state emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, is one of the most critically endangered animals in Australia. Fire and logging have decimated its habitat, causing Leadbeater’s numbers to plummet. A fierce and secretive political debate is now raging over whether the possum and the industry can both survive, or if one has to go. Rachel Carbonell has been on the trail of the possum and the people with the power to save it.” http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/the-possum-or-the-timber-industry/6706328

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About Dbytes Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).
CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/
NESP TSR: http://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/#
EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/
Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #208 (18 August 2015)

 Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“In the past 18 months the Climate Change Authority – an independent, statutory advisory body on climate policy matters – has produced three reports on Australia’s future emissions reduction targets… The advice which the Authority has provided through these reports has not been adopted, which the government’s prerogative.”
Bernie Fraser, Chair of the Climate Change Authority http://climatechangeauthority.gov.au/node/366 and see item 2.

General News

1. Consultation open on Outcomes-based Conditions Policy under the EPBC Act

2. Government statement on greenhouse emissions

3. A Vision in Blue – the National Marine Science Plan

4. Wetlands Australia Magazine – highlighting threatened species

5. House of Representatives inquiry into Agricultural Innovation

EDG News

Canberra: Megan Evans one of lead tweeterers at ICCB
Perth:
Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell publish on biases in adaptive NRM
Brisbane: Managing feral pigs a priority in managing Lake Eyre Basin
Melbourne:
Guru Guillera-Arroita and colleagues on matching data and models to applications

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General News

1. Consultation open on Outcomes-based Conditions Policy under the EPBC Act The Australian Government has developed policy and guidance on outcomes-based conditions under the EPBC Act. Outcomes-based conditions specify the environmental outcome that must be achieved by an approval holder without prescribing how that outcome should be achieved. Outcomes-based conditions allow approval holders to be innovative and achieve the best environmental outcome at the lowest cost, while increasing the public transparency of the required environmental outcomes. Comments are invited on two documents—the Outcomes-based Conditions Policy and the Outcomes-based Conditions Guidance. Submissions close on 5 October 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/consultation/policy-guidance-outcomes-based-conditions

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2. Government statement on greenhouse emissions

The PM and Ministers Julie Bishop and Greg Hunt said Australia will reduce greenhouse emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. [Full Text]

Editor’s note: I don’t normally include responses to Government announcements on environmental policy but it’s interesting in this instance to see the near simultaneous release of a range of responses to the Government’s pronouncement from a range of interest groups (climate, business, conservation, energy, mining).
ClimateWorks said that target was feasible because Australia’s potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions was much greater. [Full Text]
The Climate Institute said that target fails climate and competitiveness tests. [Full Text]
The IGCC (Investor Group on Climate Change) said it is concerned that that target will not deliver the certainty that investors are looking for. [Full Text]
The Climate Council said targets announced by the Government are out of step with the science and the rest of the world. [Full Text]
The ESAA said the target of a 26% cut in emissions by 2030 was a credible starting point that needed to be backed by a credible policy platform. [Full Text]
The FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) welcomed the Government’s commitment to explore opportunities to improve the efficiency of vehicles as part of the National Energy Productivity Plan. [Full Text]
The Minerals Council said the Government’s emissions target is an ambitious goal that recognises that Australia has a responsibility to contribute to a genuinely global effort. [Full Text]
The ACF (Australian Conservation Industry) said the post-2020 target is weak and will not protect the systems that support life. [Full Text]
The ACCI (said the target balances the need for action to contain emissions with the need to minimise damage to jobs and economic growth. [Full Text]
The Business Council said achieving the emissions reduction target will be a challenge for all Australians. [Full Text]

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3. A Vision in Blue – the National Marine Science Plan “After much hard work and collaboration, listening to many voices from the science, university and business community over the past few years, we are delighted that today, the National Marine Science Plan (NMSP) is being launched at Parliament House by the Minister for Industry and Science, the Honourable Ian Macfarlane,” said AIMS CEO and Chair of the National Marine Science Committee, John Gunn.

The consensus document from over 23 marine research organizations, universities and government departments and more than 500 scientists and stakeholders, provides a set of recommendations for science that will be at the heart of dealing with the challenges of our marine nation. The Plan focuses on seven key challenges associated with our oceans and it provides a template for how business, science and government can now work towards growing Australian ocean’s economic potential while safeguarding its longer term health. http://www.aims.gov.au/docs/media/latest-news/-/asset_publisher/EnA5gMcJvXjd/content/11-august-a-vision-in-blue-ten-year-plan-for-science-helping-drive-australia-s-growing-blue-economy

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4. Wetlands Australia Magazine – highlighting threatened species

The 27th edition of the Wetlands Australia magazine has just been released. The theme for this edition is ‘Wetlands support Threatened Species’. It highlights actions to raise awareness, restore and manage wetlands for the benefit of threatened birds, mammals, fish and frogs by community groups, Indigenous organisations, universities and research institutions, non-government organisations and state and federal governments. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/wetlands-australia/national-wetlands-update-august-2015

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5. House of Representatives inquiry into Agricultural Innovation On Thursday 13 August 2015 the Committee adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, asking the Committee to inquire into and report on Agricultural Innovation. The Committee has set Friday 25 September 2015 as the closing date for the receipt of submissions. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Making_a_submission

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EDG News Canberra: Megan Evans one of lead tweeterers at ICCB Megan Evans attended the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Montpellier, France in August. She presented her work on evaluating the impact of land clearing regulations on deforestation in Australia. Megan’s tweets during the conference were the most retweeted and favorited (i.e highest quality) out of the 1000 or so attendees on Twitter at the conference. https://jlehtoma.github.io/iccb2015-tweets/

Perth: Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell publish on biases in adaptive NRM Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell’s have a new paper in Conservation Letters ‘Biases’ in adaptive natural resource management’. Uncertainties about the consequences of natural resource management mean that managers are required to make difficult judgments. However, research in behavioural economics, psychology, and behavioural decision theory has shown that people, including managers, are subject to a range of biases in their perceptions and judgments. Based on an interpretative survey of these literatures, Iftekhar and Pannell (2015) identify particular biases that are likely to impinge on the operation and success of natural resource management. They discuss these in the particular context of adaptive management, an approach that emphasizes learning from practical experience to reduce uncertainties. The biases discussed include action bias, the planning fallacy, reliance on limited information, limited reliance on systematic learning, framing effects, and reference-point bias. Agencies should be aware of the influence of biases when adaptive management decisions are undertaken. Finally, they proposed several ways to reduce these biases. Ref: Iftekhar, M. S. and Pannell, D. J. (2015), “Biases” in Adaptive Natural Resource Management. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12189 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/conl.12189/

Brisbane: Managing feral pigs a priority in managing Lake Eyre Basin A team of Brisbane-based decision scientists (including many CEED/NERP personnel have recently published research on priority threat management in the Lake Eyre Basin. “Australia’s Lake Eyre is perhaps best known as the continent’s largest lake, and for the rare floods that bring the desert to life. But Lake Eyre is much more than a lake. Taking into account the rivers that drain into it and where they come from, the Lake Eyre Basin is one of largest inland draining systems in the world, the size of Germany, France and Italy combined. It is home to many natural wonders, such as Uluru, and many species of threatened wildlife. It is also threatened by invasive animals and plants, and climate change. How can we best protect the basin, given finite funds? In two studies (published this week in Global Change Biology and the Journal of Applied Ecology) and in two CSIRO reports we show that managing feral pigs is one of the most effective ways to ensure the basin remains healthy in the future.” And see their Conversation editorial: https://theconversation.com/protecting-australias-lake-eyre-basin-means-getting-our-priorities-right-44836

Melbourne: Guru Guillera-Arroita and colleagues on matching data and models to applications “In our paper, we looked at the properties of species occurrence data types in terms of their information content about a species distribution, and the implications that this has for different application of SDMs. We looked at presence-background data (only presence records plus information about the environmental conditions in the area), presence-absence data (presence and absence records) and detection data (presence-absence data collected in a way that allows modeling the detection process). Our work provides a synthesis about issues that have been discussed in the literature.” https://gguilleraresearch.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/is-my-sdm-fit-for-purpose/ Ref: Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahoz-Monfort, J. J., Elith, J., Gordon, A., Kujala, H., Lentini, P. E., McCarthy, M. A., Tingley, R. and Wintle, B. A. (2015), Is my species distribution model fit for purpose? Matching data and models to applications. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 24: 276–292. doi: 10.1111/geb.12268

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).

CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

Dbytes #207 (11 August 2015)

 Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“The 20-year free fall in the enrolment share of the Year 12 calculus-based mathematics subjects, often referred to as intermediate or advanced, continues. This is one of the greatest challenges to the health of the STEM disciplines and professions in Australia and will bedevil plans for Australia to become a Science Nation.”
from ‘Vision for a Maths Nation’ (see item 2)

General News

1. Review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

2. Vision for a Maths Nation

3. Witham and colleagues recommend caution when valuing ecosystem services

4. Eleven iconic Australian world heritage sites under threat from climate change

5. Wildlife Management in a Changing Environment

EDG News

Melbourne: Luke Kelly scores Victorian Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
Canberra: Felicia Pereoglou and colleagues on landscape, fire and habitat
Perth:
Sayed Iftekhar receives 2015 AARES Heading North Award
Brisbane:
Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta chosen as IPBES Young Fellows

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General News

1. Review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Environment Ministers have opened public consultation on the review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 . The strategy is a national framework to guide the biodiversity conservation policies and programmes of the Commonwealth, States and Territories, so that Australia’s biodiversity is healthy and resilient to threats, and valued in its own right and for its essential contribution to our existence. The Department is working with state and territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association through an inter-jurisdictional working group for the review. The review will examine emerging issues and implementation challenges, alignment with Australia’s international obligations such as those under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and opportunities to improve and streamline the Strategy. Submissions close at 5:00pm AEST on Friday 11 September 2015. More information is available here or you can contact the Department’s Biodiversity Policy Team at NBSSecretariat@environment.gov.au. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/conservation/strategy

2. Vision for a Maths Nation This policy document identifies key priorities for intervention by Australian governments and for action by peak bodies — commercial, educational, scientific and technological. It should be read in conjunction with AMSI’s annual Discipline Profile of the Mathematical Sciences. http://amsi.org.au/publications/a-vision-for-a-maths-nation/

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3. Witham and colleagues recommend caution when valuing ecosystem services [Editor’s note: This paper on valuing ecosystem services was led by Charlotte Witham, an ECR based at Beijing Forestry University, who attended the first Student Conference on Conservation Science in 2013, see Decision Point #67. Charlotte has kept in contact with EDG via Dbytes and here describes her PhD work on estimating ecosystem values in protected areas in southern China.] “Many approaches for estimating the value of ecosystem services exist and a large amount of research effort has been placed on developing increasingly accurate techniques. These techniques are not, however, always appropriate under certain conditions and are not always accessible for users on the ground. The most accurate techniques are therefore not always adopted. “In this paper the authors have explored the use of various land-use land cover (LULC) maps and economic valuation approaches for assessing the ecosystem service value of a protected area in southern China. Such methods are based on locally or globally-derived data or resource-intensive or straight-forward methods of data access. The different results obtained using the different methodological approaches are discussed in the context of applied protected area management, in an area rich in biodiversity but which also supports a large population of people living below the poverty line. “This paper demonstrates that calculating ecosystem service value can differ widely depending on the methods used. This therefore, could have serious implications on management decisions for protected areas when, for example, managers wish to act on zones with most or least value. Until standardised protocols for ecosystem service valuation have been agreed upon and are readily available for use at variable scales, managers and decision-makers should be aware of the caveats associated with using different approaches.” Ref: Whitham CEL, K Shi and P Riordan (2015). Ecosystem Service Valuation Assessments for Protected Area Management: A Case Study Comparing Methods Using Different Land Cover Classification and Valuation Approaches. PLOS ONE http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0129748

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4. Eleven iconic Australian world heritage sites under threat from climate change From the Climate Council http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/11-iconic-australian-world-heritage-sites-under-threat-from-climate-change

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5. Wildlife Management in a Changing Environment Australasian Wildlife Management Society Conference, 226 Nov 2015, Perth [A message from Dorian Moro] “The Call for Abstracts for this years AWMS conference in Perth closes in one month! You have until August 31 to submit your abstracts for both posters and presentations. Full details on symposia and conference dates can be found on the Conference page.

Students and practitioners – you only have until August 31 to submit your applications for our awards. Full details on eligibility and application requirements can be found under Awards and Grants on our website: https://awms.memberclicks.net/conference.

We look forward to seeing you in Perth!” https://awms.memberclicks.net/conference

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EDG News

Melbourne: Luke Kelly scores Victorian Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship Fellows will spend two years as a guest researcher at an overseas university or research institute gaining international experience and building international networks. Fellows then return to Victoria to work with their Victorian employer for the third year of the fellowship. Luke’s proposal reads: Integrating ecological models to secure the future of biodiversity across flammable continents. “Fire shapes ecosystems worldwide. But the frequency of fires has been modified by climate change and human population growth, and inappropriate fire regimes are a significant threat to biodiversity in Australia and the Mediterranean Basin. There is an urgent need to predict the responses of biodiversity to future fire regimes. Spain is an excellent location for the proposed collaboration because its climate and vegetation is similar to those of south-eastern Australia. Dr Brotons and his team at CREAF-CTFC are world leaders in predicting biodiversity responses to global change. Building on their cutting-edge techniques, this project will develop a suite of models and tools that will enhance our capacity to design and evaluate alternative fire management strategies in Australian and Mediterranean landscapes. It will strengthen the University of Melbourne’s environmental research program, and deliver knowledge that the Victorian Government can use to manage threatened and endangered species and ecosystems.” http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/science-and-innovation-awards-bring-top-researchers-to-victoria

Canberra: Felicia Pereoglou and colleagues on landscape, fire and habitat “Changes to natural disturbance regimes can place early successional habitat specialists at an increased risk of extinction by altering landscape patterns of habitat suitability. We developed a series of hypotheses to evaluate the effects of landscape structure, fire history, and site-level habitat quality on site occupancy by an early successional specialist, the eastern chestnut mouse (Pseudomys gracilicaudatus). We obtained eight years of monitoring data from 26 sites in recently burned heathland in southeast Australia. We used generalised linear models to determine which explanatory variables were related to occupancy. We also explored predictability in patterns of small mammal species co-occurrence. Landscape structure (patch area, landscape heterogeneity) was strongly related to site occupancy. Site occupancy was associated with dead shrubs in the understory and rock cover on ground layer, but was not directly influenced by recent or historical fire. Contrary to contemporary ecological theory, we found no predictable species associations in our early successional community. We recommend surveys take account of landscape configuration and proximity to suitable habitat for optimal results. Fire regimes expected to promote eastern chestnut mouse population growth should encourage the retention of critical habitat features rather than be based on temporal rates of successional stages. For management to adequately account for post-disturbance patterns in early successional communities, a species-by-species, multi-scaled approach to research is necessary. Ref: Pereoglou, F., MacGregor, C., Banks, S.C., Wood, J., Ford, F. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2015). Landscape, fire and habitat: which features of recently burned heathland influence site occupancy of an early successional specialist? Landscape Ecology, doi:10.1007/s10980-015-0240-2.

Perth: Sayed Iftekhar receives 2015 AARES Heading North Award Sayed Iftekhar received the 2015 Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Heading North Award to attend the AAEA conference in San Francisco at the end of July. His presentation “Iftekhar, M. S., Latacz-Lohmann, U., 2015. Impact of bidder learning on conservation auctions: An initial analysis” proposed a model of optimal bidding behaviour in repeated conservation auctions where bidders have the opportunity to learn from previous rounds and revise their bids. This research was motivated by both experimental and empirical evidence that bidder learning can pose a significant threat to the performance of conservation auctions. Based on their model, they concluded that conservation auctions, if repeated identically, do not deliver on their promise of being the more cost-effective allocation mechanism when compared with a fixed-rate scheme. Sayed and Uwe are planning economic experiments to test this conclusion.

Brisbane: Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta chosen as IPBES Young Fellows Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta from the University of Queensland have been selected as Young Fellows of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations in 2012 to provide policy advice to governments to protect the world’s precious biodiversity. To assist in this task, IPBES is enlisting the world’s best conservation scientists to participate in its assessment processes. This includes recruiting talented early career researchers to participate in a Young Fellows Programme, harnessing the finest emerging talent in the international effort to save biodiversity, and building capability for the future. Around the world there were some 700 applications to the Young Fellows Programme. Of these around 450 were nominated. But the area in which Vanessa and Sugeng nominated, Land Degradation and Restoration, it was even more competitive. From a pool of more than 130 applicants, only seven candidates were selected to participate in the assessment as co-authors. Vanessa and Sugeng were two of these seven! http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/2013-06-03-22-58-24/252-ceed-ipbs-ceed-yourfellows.html

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).

CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

Dbytes #206 (4 August 2015)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“Hard constraints are the midwife to good design.”
Maciej Cegłowski http://idlewords.com/talks/web_design_first_100_years.htm


General News

1. Management Strategy Evaluation for the Great Barrier Reef inshore

2. We can measure research engagement, says ATSE

3. Combining science, art and storytelling

4. Connections key to conservation bang for buck

5. Loving emails show there’s more to trees than ecosystem services

EDG News

Brisbane: Tara Martin and colleagues on buffel grass and climate change
Melbourne:
Qaecologists presenting at the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology
Canberra:
David Lindenmayer and colleagues on tree plantations as novel socio-ecological systems
Perth:
Sorada Tapsuwan and Maksym Polyakov demonstrate how to improve estimation of the value of environmental assets when data availability is limited

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General News

1. Management Strategy Evaluation for the Great Barrier Reef inshore

A NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub report discussing the comparison of two techniques for the management of Great Barrier Reef inshore areas has revealed that external social and political factors play a huge part in determining the effectiveness of consultation techniques. Researchers working under Project 9.2 of the Tropical Ecosystems Hub examined stakeholder and community attitudes in two coastal areas – the Bowen-Burdekin region and the Mackay region. Despite the announcement of plans to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal in the Bowen-Burdekin region, which caused nationwide controversy and disruption to the management evaluation research methodology, the project was able to reach conclusions that will be very useful for Reef managers. Researchers used a one-to-one stakeholder interview process in the Bowen-Burdekin to develop management objectives, and used a workshop-based approach in Mackay. Both techniques gave rise to decision support processes that can be used to inform future policy and management directions. http://www.nerptropical.edu.au/publication/project-92-final-report-design-and-implementation-management-strategy-evaluation-great

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2. We can measure research engagement, says ATSE

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is spearheading a campaign to change the way Australia values research. There is growing acknowledgement in government and industry that the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) model – currently the only accepted measure of research ‘quality’ – cannot adequately encourage research commercialisation or other translation into community benefit. This is against a background where Australian universities, publicly funded research institutes and industry are far less engaged in research collaboration than their counterparts in other countries, which is concerning, given that such collaborations are the engine room behind the advanced manufacturing industries of the future. To drive policy thinking towards a better-balanced approach, ATSE has produced a major report, Research Engagement for Australia (REA), which proposes to reward research engagement, under the REA banner, alongside research excellence (ERA). The key principle is to use the amount of revenue from industry and other research end-users as a measure of research engagement.

http://www.atse.org.au/content/publications/media-releases/2015/we-can-measure-research-engagement.aspx

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3. Combining science, art and storytelling

Kate Cranney, from the University of Melbourne, has combined science, art and storytelling in her series, ‘Drawn to Science’. Drawn to Science features a profile of a postgraduate scientist, alongside an original artwork of their study subject. To read of bats, birds and tropical trees, pick up a copy of the Farrago magazine or visit www.katecranney.com/drawn-to-science

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4. Connections key to conservation bang for buck By Anna Salleh (ABC Science) “A new tool could help environmental agencies work out the most cost-effective way to protect species. The model optimises the quality and quantity of habitat corridors that connect different sub-populations of a species to maximise resilience in the face of environmental threats, say the researchers. “Economist Professor Quentin Grafton of the Australian National University and ecologist Dr Rich Little of the CSIRO publish their research today in the Royal Society journal Open Science. “The model shows there’s a trade off between the quality and quantity of connections,” says Grafton…” http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/07/08/4269151.htm

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5. Loving emails show there’s more to trees than ecosystem services

Conversation editorial by Dave Kendal, Anna Wilson and Lilian Pearce “Around the world, many cities have been undertaking massive urban tree expansion and renewal programs. Million Tree initiatives have begun in many cities including Los Angeles, New York and Shanghai. These aim primarily to plant more trees, but also manage the resilience of the forest by increasing species diversity, and encourage community participation in choosing locations and kinds of tree, and stewardship by adopting and caring for trees. The City of Melbourne’s urban forest program is also using cutting-edge research to increase tree canopy cover, manage diversity in the forest, and reduce heat in summer. Yet it is perhaps through new ways of valuing trees, and through community engagement programs such as emailing a tree, that the City of Melbourne is being most innovative. https://theconversation.com/loving-emails-show-theres-more-to-trees-than-ecosystem-services-37983

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EDG News

Brisbane: Tara Martin and colleagues on buffel grass and climate change “We demonstrate the benefits of Bayesian Networks (BNs) for projecting distributions of invasive species under various climate futures, when empirical data are lacking. Using the introduced pasture species, buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) in Australia as an example, we employ a framework by which expert knowledge and available empirical data are used to build a BN. The framework models the susceptibility and suitability of the Australian continent to buffel grass colonization using three invasion requirements; the introduction of plant propagules to a site, the establishment of new plants at a site, and the persistence of established, reproducing populations. Our results highlight the potential for buffel grass management to become increasingly important in the southern part of the continent, whereas in the north conditions are projected to become less suitable. With respect to biodiversity impacts, our modelling suggests that the risk of buffel grass invasion within Australia’s National Reserve System is likely to increase with climate change as a result of the high number of reserves located in the central and southern portion of the continent. In situations where data are limited, we find BNs to be a flexible and inexpensive tool for incorporating existing process-understanding alongside bioclimatic and edaphic variables for projecting future distributions of species invasions.” Ref: Martin, T.G., Murphy, H., Liedloff, A., Thomas, C., Chades, I., Cook, G., Fensham, R., McIvor, J., van Klinken, R., 2015. Buffel grass and climate change: a framework for projecting invasive species distributions when data are scarce. Biological Invasions doi:10.1007/s10530-015-0945-9.

Melbourne: Qaecologists presenting at the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology “Another winter, another migration of Qaecologists and friends to warmer climates. This year most of us chose Montpellier for their overwintering grounds. From the 2nd – 6th of August, we and about 2000 other attendees will gather for the 27th International Conference for Conservation, which jointly meets with the 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB-ECCB). Here are some details on the talks and posters that QAEco and CEBRA members are presenting:…” http://qaeco.com/2015/07/29/qaecologists-presenting-at-the-27th-international-congress-for-conservation-biology-in-montpellier-france/

Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on tree plantations as novel socio-ecological systems “Novel ecosystems occur when new combinations of species appear within a particular biome. They typically result from direct human activity, environmental change, or the impacts of introduced species. In this paper we argue that considering commercial tree plantations as novel ecosystems has the potential to help policy makers, resource managers and conservation biologists better deal with the challenges and opportunities associated with managing plantations for multiple purposes at both the stand and landscape scales. We outline five inter-related issues associated with managing tree plantations, which are arguably the largest form of terrestrial novel ecosystem worldwide. This is to ensure these areas contribute significantly to critical ecosystem services, including biodiversity conservation, in addition to their wood production role. We suggest that viewing tree plantations as novel socio-ecological systems may free managers from a narrow stand-based perspective and having to compare with natural forest standards, to help promote the development of management principles that better integrate plantations into the larger landscape so that their benefits are maximized and their potential negative ecological effects are minimized. Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B., Messier, C., Paquette, A., and Hobbs, R.J. (2015). Managing tree plantations as novel socio-ecological systems: Australian and North American perspectives. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, doi:10.1139/cjfr-2015-0072.

Perth: Sorada Tapsuwan and Maksym Polyakov demonstrate how to improve estimation of the value of environmental assets when data availability is limited Sorada Tapsuwan and Maksym Polyakov analyse the biases associated with conventional techniques to estimating value of environmental assets. Applying traditional metrics and assuming homogeneity of multiple environmental assets often leads to researchers overvaluing some assets and undervaluing others. The authors propose to differentiate the environmental asset by modelling them as individual sites, rather than assuming that all sites of the same asset are homogeneous. A hedonic property price (HPP) model is used as an example of the importance of correctly specifying environmental assets that can result in different policy recommendations. Ref: Tapsuwan, S and M. Polyakov. 2015. Correctly Specifying Environmental Assets in Spatial Hedonic Pricing Models. Society & Natural Resources. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2015.1024808

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).

CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #205 (28 July 2015)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“One of the more controversial directions of the feral cat plan is a 2020 target to cull 2 million cats across Australia. Scientists at the summit privately reacted with discomfort. There is no evidence-based rationale for such a target and it may prove to be counter-productive, just in the same way that the blanket 5% burn target for Victoria’s bushland misdirected effort and attention away from risk-reduction where it was most needed.”
Andrew Cox, Invasive Species Council http://us5.campaign-archive2.com/?u=5a02d0c5ba045796a288f0506&id=254e8362d8&e=9d60099ef5

General News

1. CEED/NERP researchers in Nature on Offsets

2. Invitation to comment on Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

3. Feral cat threat abatement plan updated

4. What is the point of saving endangered species.

5. Case study – fishery closures and orange roughy

EDG News
Perth:
Jodi Price presents at the international veg science symposium
Brisbane:
Hugh Possingham is finalist in Eureka Awards
Melbourne:
The Voice discusses the partnership between CEED and Melbourne Uni
Canberra: Alessio Mortelliti and colleagues on marsupial response to large scale pine plantation conversion

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General News

1. CEED/NERP researchers in Nature on Offsets “We recommend that while it is often appropriate for offsets to create and manage new protected areas, these outcomes should be accounted for separately from progress towards existing commitments such as the Aichi targets, in order to avoid offsets simply replacing government funding for protected areas. We argue that future international agreements should require separate accounting of conservation gains that were possible only because of equivalent losses, and benefits from the new protected areas funded by offsets should always be reported alongside the losses that triggered their protection.”

Ref: Maron, M., Gordon, A., Mackey, B. G., Possingham, H. P. and Watson, J. E. M. 2015. Stop misuse of biodiversity offsets. Nature 523, 401–403; doi:10.1038/523401a http://www.nature.com/news/conservation-stop-misuse-of-biodiversity-offsets-1.18010

And a good commentary on this paper can be found on the ABC Science website” Biodiversity offsets may allow governments to double dip

By Anna Salleh “Conservation conundrum Compensation paid by developers who damage biodiversity may do more harm than good if it is misused by governments, say researchers.

The team, writing in today’s issue of the journal Nature, argue that there is nothing to stop such ‘biodiversity offset’ funding from being used to carry out conservation work governments have already agreed to pay for. They are calling on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to “provide clear rules on the use of offsetting so that existing international agreements on the protection of biodiversity are not compromised.” “Protected areas established through offsets actually need to be flagged and counted separately to other protected areas,” says co-author, Dr Ascelin Gordon, a conservation scientist at RMIT University. “At the moment there is no mechanism to actually keep them separate, so potentially this leaves the situation open to double dipping…”

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/07/23/4278534.htm

Editor’s note: The August issue of Decision Point (#91) will carry a range of stories on offsets from Martine, Ascelin, Megan Evans, James Trezise, Georgia Garrard, Sarah Bekessy and Brendan Wintle. Should be out next week.

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2. Invitation to comment on Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

The first five years of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 is under review. The review will examine and report on the operation and implementation of the Strategy since its launch in 2010; its alignment with international agreements; and opportunities to improve and streamline the Strategy. Submissions close on Friday 11 September 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/conservation/strategy

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3. Feral cat threat abatement plan updated

The Environmental Biosecurity Section in the Department of the Environment’s Biodiversity Conservation Division recently supported the Minister’s review of the 2008 threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats, as required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Threat abatement plan provisions under the Act are summarised here. The Minister for the Environment released the Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (2015) at the Threatened Species Summit. This is a critical policy document that identifies management and other actions required to ensure the long-term survival of native species by reducing the impact of feral cats. It also provides a national framework for prioritising investment and effort by jurisdictions, researchers, land managers and other stakeholders. There was also early progress on one of the Plan’s actions at the Meeting of Environment Ministers which preceded the Summit. All states and territories have agreed to review their arrangements for feral cat control and, where necessary, to remove unnecessary barriers to effective and humane control of feral cats. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/threat-abatement-plan-feral-cats

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4. What is the point of saving endangered species. BBC web story [recommended by Salit Kark] “Whether it’s tigers, pandas, California condors or coral reefs, much of the world’s wildlife is under threat. It’s initially upsetting, and eventually just numbing.

Is it worth worrying about it all? Sure, it will be sad if there aren’t any more cute pandas on the planet, but it’s not like we depend on them. Besides, surely it’s more important to take care of humans – who, let’s face it, have their own problems to worry about – than to spend millions of dollars preserving animals. What, in short, is the point of conservation?” http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150715-why-save-an-endangered-species

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5. Case study – fishery closures and orange roughy

“Fishery closures can help protect species from becoming overfished as well as enabling species to recover from overfishing. A good example of how fishery closures have helped rebuild some stocks of orange roughy to a point where they once again can be sustainably commercially fished. Orange roughy became popular when stocks were first found by trawlers in overseas fisheries during the late 1970s and the fish’s popularity exploded. Fishing for orange roughy in Australia began in the mid 1980s.

http://www.afma.gov.au/case-study-fishery-closures-orange-roughy/ -~<>~-

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EDG News

Perth: Jodi Price presents at the international veg science symposium Jodi Price presented a paper at the 58th International symposium of the International Association of Vegetation Science, held in Brno, Czech Republic. Jodi’s talk titled ‘Functional trait responses to small-scale environmental variability in temperate grasslands on five continents’ was presented in a session on plant traits. Jodi and colleagues found that co-occurring species were more similar in functional traits than expected, which contrasts with the model expected if plant competition is more intense among functionally similar species. However, there were few general patterns among the study regions, suggesting that functional assembly of temperate grasslands may be driven by regional and site factors.

Brisbane: Hugh Possingham is finalist in Eureka Awards Hugh Possingham is a finalist (one of three) for Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers. https://www.facebook.com/arcceed?ref=hl

Melbourne: The Voice discusses the partnership between CEED and Melbourne Uni The Voice is the University of Melbournes monthly newspaper “BioScience students from the University of Melbourne are learning from internationally renowned conservation researchers as they work alongside them, as part of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). CEED is the world’s leading research centre for solving environmental management problems. It’s a partnership between Australian and international universities and other research institutes – including the University of Queensland and the University of Western Australia. Associate Professor Brendan Wintle plays a key role in the Centre through his conservation ecology research, his work teaching undergraduate Applied Ecology at the University of Melbourne and his role as a research theme leader with CEED. “As well as delivering research and funding benefits for the University, CEED is helping us create the next generation of professionals who will be making difficult environmental policy decisions,” says Dr Wintle…” http://voice.unimelb.edu.au/volume-11/number-7/partnership-reaps-reward

Canberra: Alessio Mortelliti and colleagues on marsupial response to large scale pine plantation conversion “We quantified changes in forest-dependent mammal populations when the habitat in which they live remains intact but the surrounding matrix is converted from open grazed land to closed pine plantation forest. This situation is increasingly common as plantations are often established on formerly cultivated or grazed land.We found that none of the five target species in our study (two macropods, two possums and a glider) responded negatively to pine plantation establishment. For three species (the sugar glider Petaurus breviceps, the red necked wallaby Macropus rufogriseus and the swamp wallaby Wallabia bicolor) the response to plantation establishment was positive (i.e., increase in colonisation/patch use in sites surrounded by pine plantations) whereas the two possums (the common ringtail possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus and the common brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula) were positively affected by the amount of native tree cover surrounding sites, rather than pine plantation establishment. We foresee two strong implications of our work for the conservation of mammal species in agricultural areas subject to multiple land-use changes: 1) Our results suggest that converting agricultural land to pine plantations will not affect our target mammalian species negatively; rather, it may facilitate colonisation of remnant patches of native vegetation by some species. 2) Our findings underscore the critical importance of preserving remnant native vegetation within plantations, as it may decrease the risk of local extinction for some species or facilitate the colonisation of new sites for others. Thus, retention of patches of remnant native vegetation should be part of the design of future plantations. Ref: Mortelliti, A., Crane, M, Okada, S., and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2015). Marsupial response to matrix conversion: Results of a large–scale long–term ‘natural experiment’ in Australia. Biological Conservation, 191, 60–66.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320715002384

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).

CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #204 (21 July 2015)

 Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group “If these numbers are right that means there’s a huge amount of carbon stored in native forest. If the numbers are wrong, then we’re in real trouble, because that suggests that Australia’s carbon accounting methodology is deeply flawed and we cannot faithfully and accurately report to the United Nations on emissions from native forest management. You can’t have it both ways. Either the forests are a very significant store of carbon or the entire carbon methodology is flawed.”
David Lindenmayer on Radio National Background Briefing (see Canberra news)

General News

1. Department of the Environment issues ‘Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan 2015-16 – 20 mammals by 2020’.

2. Six bird species listed under the EPBC Act

3. NGOs say habitat protection must be a focus of threatened species recovery

4. A proposal to streamline regulation of trade in wildlife listed on the CITES

5. When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job

EDG News

Canberra: David Lindenmayer features on Background Briefing on carbon in native forest
Perth: Richard Hobbs and John Weins on the history of Landscape Ecology in North America and Australia
Brisbane: Martine Maron and colleagues on climate-induced resource bottlenecks
Melbourne: Brendan Wintle on nice comments on simulation in ecology and SDM

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General News 1. Department of the Environment issues ‘Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan 2015-16 – 20 mammals by 2020’.

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-threatened-species-strategy-action-plan-2015-16-20-mammals-by-2020

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2. Six bird species listed under the EPBC Act

The Minister has approved the inclusion of six species of threatened birds to various categories under the EPBC Act effective 8 July 2015. They are the slender-billed thornbill, the painted honeyeater, the Horsfield’s bushlark, the Bassian thrush, plains wanderer and the regent honeyeater. http://www.environment.gov.au/news/2015/07/14/six-species-listed-under-epbc-act

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3. NGOs say habitat protection must be a focus of threatened species recovery

A new report released by the Australian Conservation Foundation, BirdLife Australia and Environmental Justice Australia reveals that recovery plans designed to prevent Australia’s most endangered species from extinction are failing to protect habitat. The report, ‘Recovery planning – Restoring life to our threatened species’, released in the lead up to the first national Threatened Species Summit last week, finds that of Australia’s 120 most endangered animals, only 10 per cent had plans that placed any clear limits on the future loss of habitat. http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/media-release/habitat-protection-must-be-focus-threatened-species-recovery

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4. A proposal to streamline regulation of trade in wildlife listed on the CITES

Invitation to comment. The Australian Government is considering a proposal to streamline regulation of trade in wildlife listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Two areas have been identified as having potential for reform: 1. Options for streamlining the processing and issuing of CITES permits to provide greater certainty for commercial wildlife trade, including for the crocodile industry. 2. Personal and household effects provisions for the international movement of specimens listed on Appendix II of CITES. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/comment/streamline-regulation

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5. When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job

Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it. An Esquire feature http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

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EDG News

Canberra: David Lindenmayer features on Background Briefing David Lindenmayer discusses carbon storage in native forests on a Radio National Background Briefing special called Burning Question on 19 July 2015). “Burning native timber for renewable energy could prop up an ailing native forest industry, but the forests could earn millions in carbon credits if they’re not logged. Both options are hotly disputed and the argument opens a new front in the long running and politically-charged ‘forest wars’.” http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/a-burning-question/6616386

Perth: Richard Hobbs and John Weins on the history of Landscape Ecology in North America and Australia Richard Hobbs and colleague John Weins, have contributed a chapter to the new book, “History of Landscape Ecology in the United States”, which describes the conception and development of landscape ecology as a new paradigm. In their chapter, “A Tale of Two Continents: The Growth and Maturation of Landscape Ecology in North America and Australia”, Richard and John explore how initial conditions and environmental and cultural settings have influenced how landscape ecology has developed in North America over the past quarter of a century in comparison with that of landscape ecology in Australia where things are indeed different and landscape ecology had a later start. http://www.springer.com/us/book/9781493922741

Brisbane: Martine Maron and colleagues on climate-induced resource bottlenecks Resource bottlenecks – periods of severe restriction in resource availability – triggered by increased climate variability represent important and little-understood mechanisms through which climate change will affect biodiversity. In this review, we synthesize the key global change processes that exacerbate the severity of bottlenecks in resource availability on animal populations, and outline how adaptation responses can help buffer the impacts. We found forty-nine instances of population-level impacts from climate-induced resource bottlenecks were recorded from the literature, including four extinctions and ten population crashes. Anthropogenic land use change interacts with increasing climatic variability to exacerbate these resource ‘crunches’, but can sometimes act as a buffer for species. More effective conservation responses to climate-related threats include managing protected area networks for spatial and temporal resource complementarities and other targeted actions to buffer vulnerable species against bottlenecks. Ref: Maron, M., McAlpine, C. A., Watson, J. E. M., Maxwell, S., Barnard, P. (2015), Climate-induced resource bottlenecks exacerbate species vulnerability: a review. Diversity and Distributions, 21: 731–743. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12339 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.12339/full

Melbourne: Brendan Wintle on nice comments on simulation in ecology and SDM

“I find myself drawn back to blogosphere by a nice short comment about simulation in ecology by Vıtezslav Moudry in Journal of Biogeography. The comment highlights the impact that poor data quality can have on species distribution models, and points to the value of simulation studies for helping understand the behaviour of SDMs under different types of data bias, and the utility of some approaches for dealing with poor data quality. The study makes mention of a couple of my favourite studies, including two papers led by postdocs in our group; José Lahoz-Monfort and Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita…” https://brendanwintle.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/nice-comments-on-simulation-in-ecology-and-sdm/

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED). CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/ EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

Dbytes #203 (7 July 2015)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group Two views on the responsibility of government: “While farmers are modernising, one of the larger roadblocks to serious advancement has been policy settings such as excessive environmental regulation and unco-ordinated state, territory and Commonwealth regulations holding the farm back.” Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture (see item 1) “What could not be envisaged or contemplated by the colonies more than 100 years ago must be accepted now – that nature is our shared heritage and that the Australian government is responsible and should be held accountable for its fate.” John Woinarski and Margaret Blakers (see item 2)

General News

1. The Government issued the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

2. Australian Life, as essay by John Woinarski and Margaret Blakers

3. TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ (TEEBAgFood) study

4. Native grasses make new products – RIRDC report

5. Common European birds have declined more rapidly than rarer species

EDG News

Canberra: Philip Barton and colleagues on using movement science in policy
Perth:
Mike Craig collects data on Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo nesting sites
Brisbane:
Liz Law and colleagues on measurement and management of landscape carbon
Melbourne:
Geoff Heard on growling grass frogs, disease, refugia and connectivity

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General News

1. The Government issued the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. http://agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au/ and see http://www.agricultureminister.gov.au/Pages/Transcripts/agwp-address-to-npc.aspx for the Minister’s speech delivering the paper.

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2. Australian Life, as essay by John Woinarski and Margaret Blakers A new essay on the Green Agenda blog site on threatened species, conservation and extinction in Australia. Also covers the topics of conservation triage, the national reserve system and government responsibility. http://greenagenda.org.au/2015/07/australian-life/#more-757

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3. TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ (TEEBAgFood) study

[Recommended by Dean Ansell]

Ecosystems and agricultural & food systems are typically evaluated in isolation from one another, despite their many and significant links. The economic invisibility of many of these links is a major reason for this ‘silo’ thinking. However, ecosystems are the ecological home in which crop and livestock systems thrive and produce food for humans, and in turn agricultural practices, food production, distribution and consumption impose several unquantified externalities on ecosystems and human health and well-being. A ‘TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ (TEEBAgFood) study, led by the UNEP TEEB Office (TEEB=The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity), will seek to bring together economists, business leaders, agriculturalists and experts in biodiversity and ecosystems to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of the ‘eco-agri-food systems’ complex, and demonstrate that the economic environment in which farmers operate is distorted by significant externalities, both negative and positive, and a lack of awareness of dependency on natural capital. A “double-whammy” of economic invisibility of impacts from both ecosystems and agricultural/food systems is a root cause of increased fragility and lower resilience to shocks in both ecological and human systems http://www.teebweb.org/agriculture-and-food/

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4. Native grasses make new products – RIRDC report

This project assessed the feasibility of commercially exploiting new products derived from Australian perennial grasses. Although used selectively for targeted purposes such as land restoration, landscaping and lawns, today these grass seeds remain unexploited as commercially cultivated crops for food grains, animal fodder, fish food, nutritional additives, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/15-056

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5. Common European birds have declined more rapidly than rarer species The number of birds in Europe has fallen by more than 420 million between 1980 and 2009, new research has found. The study, which examined 144 bird species across 25 countries, found that 90% of the lost numbers were accounted for by common species, such as house sparrows (Passer domesticus). The decline was steepest in the first half of the study (1980–1994), followed by a period of greater stability in the second (1995-2009). More needs to be done to conserve common, as well as rare species, the researchers say. Biodiversity is declining across the globe. Conservation efforts have mainly focused on the rarest species, which face the greatest threat of extinction. Far less attention has been given to declines in more common species. However, given the high number of individuals, common species can have a large effect on the structure and characteristics of ecosystems. Source: Inger, R., Gregory, R., Duffy, J. P., et al. (2014). Common European birds are declining rapidly while less abundant species’ numbers are rising. Ecology Letters, DOI:10.1111/ele.12387

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EDG News

Canberra: Philip Barton and colleagues on using movement science in policy Abstract: Substantial advances have been made in our understanding of the movement of species, including processes such as dispersal and migration. This knowledge has the potential to improve decisions about biodiversity policy and management, but it can be difficult for decision makers to readily access and integrate the growing body of movement science. This is, in part, due to a lack of synthesis of information that is sufficiently contextualized for a policy audience. Here, we identify key species movement concepts, including mechanisms, types, and moderators of movement, and review their relevance to (1) national biodiversity policies and strategies, (2) reserve planning and management, (3) threatened species protection and recovery, (4) impact and risk assessments, and (5) the prioritization of restoration actions. Based on the review, and considering recent developments in movement ecology, we provide a new framework that draws links between aspects of movement knowledge that are likely the most relevant to each biodiversity policy category. Our framework also shows that there is substantial opportunity for collaboration between researchers and government decision makers in the use of movement science to promote positive biodiversity outcomes.

Ref: Barton PS, Lentini P, Alacs E, Bau S, Buckley Y, Burns E, Driscoll D, Guja L, Kujala H, Lahoz, Montfort J, Mortelliti A, Nathan R, Rowe R, Smith A (2015). A guide for using movement science to inform biodiversity policy. Environmental Management. DOI 10.1007/s00267-015-0570-5.

Perth: Mike Craig collects data on Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo nesting sites Mike Craig has been busy collecting data in the Wungong catchment in the northern jarrah forest, assessing trees used by Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos for nesting, and their immediate surrounds, and then same-sized group of hollow-bearing trees that show no signs of use by Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos. Preliminary analyses show few tree and site differences between used and unused trees and those that were identified were different to those identified in the Myara area further south suggesting little consistent selection of nest trees based on tree or site characteristics. This suggests landscape position may be important and these analyses will be conducted shortly to help identify methods by which mining and logging activities can minimise their impact on Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo populations.

Brisbane: Liz Law and colleagues on measurement and management of landscape carbon Abstract: Carbon stocks and emissions are quantified using many different measures and metrics, and these differ in their surrogacy, measurement, and incentive value. To evaluate potential policy impacts of using different carbon measures, we modeled and mapped carbon in above-ground and below-ground stocks, as well as fluxes related to sequestration, oxidation and combustion in the Ex Mega Rice Project Area in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. We identify significant financial and carbon emission mitigation consequences of proxy choice in relation to the achievement of national emissions reduction targets. We find that measures of above-ground biomass carbon stock have both high measurement and incentive value, but low surrogacy for potential emissions or the potential for emissions reductions. The inclusion of below-ground carbon increased stocks and flows by an order of magnitude, highlighting the importance of protecting and managing soil carbon and peat. Carbon loss and potential emissions reduction is highest in the areas of deep peat, which supports the use of deep peat as a legislative metric. Divergence in patterns across sub-regions and through time further emphasizes the importance of proxy choice and highlights the need to carefully consider the objectives of the application to which the measure of carbon will be applied. Ref: Elizabeth A. Law, Brett A. Bryan, Nooshin Torabi, Sarah A. Bekessy, Clive A. McAlpine, Kerrie A. Wilson, Measurement matters in managing landscape carbon, Ecosystem Services, Volume 13, June 2015, Pages 6-15, ISSN 2212-0416, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.07.007.

Melbourne: Geoff Heard on growling grass frogs, disease, refugia and connectivity

“Today, Ecology Letters published our latest paper on the spatial epidemiology of chytridiomycosis in remnant Growler populations. The paper – a culmination of 14 years of work – shows that the impact of chytridiomycosis on Growler populations is mediated by wetland microclimate and water chemistry, being considerably lower in warm and saline wetlands. We knew from previous work (on this system and others) that the prevalence and intensity of chytrid infections declines with increasing temperature and salinity (because chytrid is sensitive to both), but our new study is the first to demonstrate that these relationships have important implications for the persistence of frogs threatened by chytrid. Using 11 years of monitoring data, we’ve shown that populations of Growlers in warmer, saltier wetlands have a higher chance of persistence through time because the prevalence of infections is low. Moreover, we’ve shown that some metapopulations of Growlers are unlikely to survive without these warmer, saltier wetlands; that is, without their refuges from disease.” https://gwheardresearch.wordpress.com/

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