Dbytes #125 (5 November 2013)

Dbytes #125 (5 November 2013)
Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group

“If you believe that the main obligation of journalists is to the public’s right to know, the results of this study are truly alarming,” said Tom Morton (co-author of Sceptical Climate, see item 2)

General News

1. Prioritising Targets for Biological Control of Weeds – a Decision Support Tool for Policy Makers
2. Sceptical Climate
3. ASPI issued ‘Cold calculations: Australia’s Antarctic challenges’.
4. Getting to know the Department of the Environment
5. The Monitor monitors Australia’s land systems
6. Island Arks Symposium III

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

Canberra: David Lindenmayer benchmarks open access science
Perth: Morteza Chalak returns from Alberta
Reid Tingley on more effective use of SDMs
Richard Fuller on achieving Open Access to Conservation Science


General News

1. Prioritising Targets for Biological Control of Weeds – a Decision Support Tool for Policy Makers

Effective biological control is an important component of weed control in Australia and significant investment has been made in the selection process of biocontrol agents and the identification of priority weeds for biocontrol. However, there is no nationally agreed system that facilitates prioritisation of weed targets for biological control. This report outlines a framework of the overall process of prioritising targets for biological control and includes a decision support tool that enables policy makers to determine whether biological control is a suitable option for a proposed target species. The report is a result of a workshop with participation of experts within the biocontrol and weed scientific field, state representatives and other relevant stakeholders. This work has been an important step towards the development of a nationally agreed prioritisation process for biological control targets.



2. Sceptical Climate

A report on the media coverage of climate change in Australia from the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism. This report looks at coverage of climate science in ten Australian newspapers between February and April in 2011 and 2012 and asks: What is the quality and nature of climate science reporting in Australia? What role are these publications playing in informing the public about climate science?



3. ASPI issued ‘Cold calculations: Australia’s Antarctic challenges’.

This Strategic Insights looks at the range of Australian objectives in Antarctica, the assumptions that underpin those goals, and the options open for us to best achieve our aims. It’s hoped that this report will inform those responsible for formulating and implementing our Antarctic policies.
The paper looks at a range of strategic policy interests we have in Antarctica and whether we need to trade off any of these goals:

• preserving our sovereignty over our Antarctic territory
• maintaining the continent free from confrontation and militarisation
• protecting the Antarctic environment
• taking advantage of the special opportunities Antarctica offers for science
• deriving economic benefits from Antarctica
• insuring against unpredictable developments down south.

It’s produced by ASPI – Australian Strategic Policy Institute



4. Getting to know the Department of the Environment

The Department of the Environment has just issued it’s annual report

And the Department of the Environment has also just launched its new website


5. The Monitor monitors Australia’s land systems

The Monitor is an online tool created by the Department of Agriculture that delivers a broad range of climatic, production, biophysical and economic information for various regions throughout Australia. It provides users with the ability to explore, report and map the various spatial, temporal and point-based datasets across a range of scales.

The Monitor can be used to assess climate risks to production systems and assist with land management decisions. The Monitor includes:
-information on geography, climate and water availability
-economic information
-information at several different regional boundaries
-a mapping interface
-user-specified reporting
-both point and spatial analysis capability
-more than 130 maps, graphs and analyses.



6. Island Arks Symposium III
Hobart, 11th -13th of February 2014

The local organising committee would like to invite people to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations at the Island Arks Symposium III. Abstracts are due by 15th of November. We invite people to submit the now.



EDG News

Canberra: David Lindenmayer benchmarks open access science
“Much has recently been written about how open access publishing and open access to data represent a scientific revolution. However, in our view, it is critical that the advent of open access to massive, multiple data sets, and the opportunities created by “Big Science” must not subvert the critical need to maintain the principles and practice of good science. Otherwise we will open the door to a generation of “junk science,” with a massive loss of public credibility.”
Ref: LINDENMAYER, D.B. and Likens, G.E. (2013). Benchmarking open access science against good science. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 94, 338-340.

Perth: Morteza Chalak returns from Alberta
Morteza Chalak has recently returned from a collaboration with the University of Alberta. He has been working on the economic implications of increase in bushfire smoke due to the infestation of Gamba grass in the Northern Territory. Collaborating with Vic Adamowicz, he has constructed his research framework to analyse altruism in his analysis.

Melbourne: Reid Tingley on more effective use of SDMs
Species distribution models (SDMs), which relate species occurrence records to environmental datasets, are increasingly advocated in the peer-reviewed literature to support conservation decisions. Nearly every paper that uses SDMs has a token section about how the developed SDMs could be used in future conservation efforts. But is there much evidence that SDMs are actually being used to support conservation decisions on the ground? How could we most effectively develop SDMs to support these decisions, and start to bridge the gap between academics and managers?

In a recent paper in Ecology Letters, several authors from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (including myself, Tracey Regan, Brendan Wintle and John Baumgartner from QAECO) take the first steps toward tackling these challenges. In our manuscript, we use examples from four important conservation domains to illustrate how the development of SDMs should be dictated by the decision context in which they are to be used, and describe some of the types of constraints that need to be considered in different decision contexts.

Brisbane: Richard Fuller on achieving Open Access to Conservation Science
Richard delivered a seminar at UQ on work soon to be published
Abstract: Conservation science is a crisis discipline, in which the results of scientific enquiry need to be made available quickly to other scientists and to those implementing management. Here, we assess the extent to which scientific research published since the year 2000 in 20 conservation science journals is open access. We discover that of the 18,068 papers published, only 1,540 (8.5%) are freely downloadable from an official online repository. This compares poorly with an open access rate of 31.8% among a comparable set of 20 journals focused upon evolutionary biology. However, access to conservation science has improved dramatically over the past decade, in part because authors are paying for open access to papers in traditional journals, but primarily because of the recent appearance of several fully open access conservation journals.


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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