Dbytes #118 (17 September 2013)

Dbytes #118 (17 September 2013)
Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group

“Decisions and actions taken over the next 10 years will determine whether the next generation of Australians is the first in recent history to be worse off than their parents and grandparents, or whether they are able to enjoy economic prosperity and stability, environmental amenity and function, and social cohesion that are comparable to – or better than – those we inherited.”
Intro to the Sustainable Australia Report 2013, http://www.environment.gov.au/sustainability/measuring/publications/sustainable-australia-report-2013.html

General News

1. Science and policy development (and NERP)
2. The secrets of good science writing
3. Retraction Watch – a blog that tracks scientific retractions
4. Do agri-environmental schemes benefit insect pollinators?

5. Science into policy conference 12-13 Nov, Brisbane

EDG News (more details on these items follows general news)

Perth: Graeme Doole on strategies for multiple pollutants
Canberra:
David Lindenmayer reflects on 30 years of biodiversity management in ash forests
Melbourne
: Pia Lentini makes a plea for conferences to be more Twitter-friendly
Brisbane: James Watson on mapping vulnerability under climate change

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General News

1. Science and policy development (and NERP)

The Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education has recently released a report on ‘the place of science policy development in the Public Service’. The study holds up NERP as an example of how science can effectively influence policy.

The Place of Science in Policy Development in the Public Service systematically reviewed the ways in which scientific input is used to inform policy development in the Australian Public Service. It provides departments and agencies with practical and useful strategies to maximise the use of science in policy development. Ultimately, the project has sought to arrive at an end-state where policy making within the APS draws on the best available scientific evidence on a routine and systematic basis.

And it suggests this is already happening with NERP (p14): “The NERP example demonstrates that through thoughtful program design, it is possible to fund activities that achieve the twin objectives of enhancing Australia’s world-class environmental research capabilities while also delivering useful knowledge, tools and information to policy makers and the broader community.”

The ingredients to NERP’s success, the report suggests, is through: involving policy makers in the framing of research questions, focusing on knowledge brokering and translation, facilitating access to research, enhancing mutual understanding and encouraging innovation in evaluation.

See http://www.innovation.gov.au/science/Pages/Library%20Card/APS200ScienceinPolicyReport.aspx

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2. The secrets of good science writing

The Guardian in the UK has a range of articles on the “Secrets of good science writing”

http://www.theguardian.com/science/series/secrets-science-writing

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3. Retraction Watch – a blog that tracks scientific retractions
[Recommended by Sam Banks]

And in this sample, a paper is retracted when a note is left in the submitted manuscript where it appears the first author is being instructed to fabricate data. Whoops.

http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/insert-data-here-did-researcher-instruct-co-author-to-make-up-results-for-chemistry-paper/

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4. Do agri-environmental schemes benefit insect pollinators?

Agri-environmental schemes (AES) do successfully enhance the number and variety of insect pollinators, research suggests. They are particularly effective when implemented in arable landscapes which also contain some semi-natural habitat.

This study, conducted under the EU STEP Project1, provides a review of previous research that investigated the factors influencing AES performance with regards to biodiversity and abundances of insect pollinators (bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths). The review covered 71 studies from Europe that compared AES sites and conventionally managed sites.

Source: Scheper, J., Holzschuh, A., Kuussaari, M., et al. (2013). Environmental factors driving the effectiveness of European agri-environmental measures in mitigating pollinator loss – a meta-analysis. Ecology Letters. 16: 912–920. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12128.

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5. Science into policy conference 12-13 Nov, Brisbane

The ‘Science into policy’ conference will bring together biosecurity scientists, regulators, policy developers and social scientists to explore the issues surrounding the uptake and adoption of scientific outcomes.

http://www.csiro.au/Scienceintopolicy2013

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EDG News

Perth: Graeme Doole on strategies for multiple pollutants
Waterways in north-central Victoria are detrimentally affected by nutrient outflows from agriculture. We constructed an economic model that integrated information regarding the profitability of different management decisions and the impact of these actions on water quality.Cost-effective management requires spatial heterogeneity in land-use and gully/streambank management. Overall, this research demonstrates the need to determine whether one pollutant is more important than another, while recognising the potential that mitigation practices possess for the reduction of multiple emissions during their evaluation.
Reference
Doole, G., Vigiak, O., Roberts, A.M. and Pannell, D.J. (2013). Cost-effective strategies to mitigate multiple pollutants in an agricultural catchment in North-Central Victoria, Australia, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 57(3), 441-460.

Canberra: David Lindenmayer reflects on 30 years of biodiversity management in ash forests
Lindenmayer, D.B., Blair, D., McBurney, L., Banks, S.C., Stein, J.A.R., Hobbs, R.J., Likens, G.E., and Franklin, J.F. (2013). Principles and practices for biodiversity conservation and restoration forestry: a 30 year case study on the Victorian montane ash forests and the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum. Australian Zoologist, http://dx.doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2013.007.

Melbourne: Pia Lentini makes a plea for conferences to be more Twitter-friendly
I know, I hear you: I was also deeply skeptical about Twitter when I joined the QAECO group (@qaecology) a year ago. It seemed to be just another distraction which is full of annoying acronyms (some of which are explained here) and terms like “tweeps” that you have to Google to understand, and frankly, I don’t need an update on every little thought that goes through some people’s heads every moment of the day. But then I got bullied into it and found that Twitter really comes into its own at conferences.
http://pelentiniresearch.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/a-plea-to-make-conferences-more-twitter-friendly/

Brisbane: James Watson on mapping vulnerability under climate change
“Here we build on recent work to map ecoregional exposure to future climate, using an envelope-based gauge of future climate stability—defined as a measure of how similar the future climate of a region will be to the present climate.”
Reference
Watson JEM, T Iwamura and N Butt (2013). Mapping vulnerability and conservation adaptation strategies under climate change. Nature Climate Change
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2007.html#affil-auth
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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. Also, email David if you want to unsubscribe (or subscribe someone else). 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/
NERP ED: http://www.nerpdecisions.edu.au/
EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

EDG major events: http://www.edg.org.au/events.html
Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

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