Dbytes #145 (15 April 2014)

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

“How do you get the best decision from a group of people with different opinions? When I was a young boy a family friend, a distinguished barrister, explained to me the way that he operates. If I have the law on my side, he said, I pound on the law. If I have the facts on my side, I pound on the facts. If I have neither the law nor the facts on my side I pound on the table.”

Herbert Huppert (from Ockham’s Razor; http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/expert-elicitation-for-everyone/5362164#transcrip)

General News

1. Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change

2. State of the Environment 2011 Common Assessment and Reporting Framework

3. Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Programme has been completed

4. The National Environmental Information Infrastructure (NEII) – A new way to discover and access environmental data

5. What science communicators can learn from listening to people

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

Canberra: Sam Banks and David Lindenmayer in Possum Magic

Perth: Marit Kragt’s carbon-biodiversity workshop continues

Melbourne: Jose Lahoz-Monfort moves into movies

Brisbane: Sam Nicol publishes on optimal water depth management on river-fed National Wildlife Refuges in a changing climate

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1. Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change Concluding four years of intense scientific collaboration by hundreds of authors from around the world, this report responds to the request of the world’s governments for a comprehensive, objective and policy neutral assessment of the current scientific knowledge on mitigating climate change. The report has been extensively reviewed by experts and governments to ensure quality and comprehensiveness. http://www.mitigation2014.org/

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2. State of the Environment 2011 Common Assessment and Reporting Framework A paper on the State of the Environment 2011 Common Assessment and Reporting Framework is now available online. The article was published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management and is available as open access here. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09640568.2014.891073#.U0JHYKN-9aQ Abstract: A new approach was developed for Australia’s 2011 national State of the Environment (SoE) report to integrate the assessment of biophysical and human elements of the environment. A Common Assessment and Reporting Framework (CARF) guided design and implementation, responding to jurisdictional complexity, outstanding natural diversity and ecosystem values, high levels of cultural and heritage diversity, and a paucity of national-scale data. The CARF provided a transparent response to the need for an independent, robust and evidence-based national SoE report. We conclude that this framework will be effective for subsequent national SoE assessments and other integrated national-scale assessments in data-poor regions.

-~<>~- 3. Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Programme has been completed

The island is the largest and most remote location where the total eradication of three invasive species has been successfully completed; ship rat, rabbit and house mouse. This success is due to the hard work and dedication of scientists, ecologists, hunters and trainers and their remarkable detector dogs. http://www.environment.gov.au/node/19785  -~<>~-

4. The National Environmental Information Infrastructure (NEII) – A new way to discover and access environmental data The National Environmental Information Infrastructure (NEII) Reference Architecture consultation draft, published in December 2013, is a technical blueprint for NEII functionality. The draft Reference Architecture provides technical direction so organisations can align their technology and related capabilities to streamline discovery and access to environmental information. The primary audience for this document and the NEII are government agencies that produce or use environmental information. http://www.bom.gov.au/environment/doc/neii_reference_architecture-consultation_draft.pdf

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5. What science communicators can learn from listening to people [recommended by Nadeem Samnakay] No matter how strong the scientific argument and consensus among scientists there will always be people who reject the evidence. It happens on so many scientific topics, from climate change and vaccination to nuclear power and renewable energy. You only have to look at some of the comment threads on online articles: where scientists might agree with one position, it seems the majority of comment thread ‘scientists’ will stridently beg to differ. Well-established science is taken by many as just one of a range of possible viewpoints, no matter how credible – or incredible – those other viewpoints may be. http://theconversation.com/what-science-communicators-can-learn-from-listening-to-people-25087 -~<>~-

EDG News

Canberra: Sam Banks and David Lindenmayer in Possum Magic ‘Possum Magic survives bushfire’ is an episode of (Radio National’s) Off Track. It featured the work of Sam Banks and David Lindenmayer: “In the cool morning air of the Montain Ash Forests of Victoria, a mountain brushtail possum sits dozing into the back of a trap. It’s not worried about being in the trap in the slightest. It has eaten a bit of the green apple and had a snooze while it awaits researchers. Soon enough, Dr Sam Banks effortlessly traverses moss covered logs and tree fern filled gullies to liberate the possum from the cage, into a hessian sack. They don’t seem to mind the hessian sacks. They’re sort of like a hollow in an old tree – dry, warm and cosy. The possum’s calmness is due in part to the number of years that the creatures in this area near Cambarville have been studied: since 1983, and intensely since 1991. These possums are part of one of the longest and broadest ecological studies in Australia, and the world, led by Professor David Lindenmayer of the Australian National University. The mountain brushtail’s importance has multiplied in recent years, as they were the only species of possum or glider which persisted on affected sites after the Black Saturday Fires of 2009.” http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/offtrack/black-saturday-survivor-e28093-the-mountain-brushtail/5336954

Perth: Marit Kragt’s carbon-biodiversity workshop continues Sixteen researchers from the NERP-EDG met at the Ecosystem Sciences precinct in Brisbane for a workshop on carbon-biodiversity trade-offs. The workshop lasted three days, during which several project ideas were presented and five working groups progressed research papers. The workshop, organised by Marit Kragt from UWA, successfully connected researchers from different disciplines and multiple hubs (including CSIRO, NGO and Federal Government researchers) on matters related to the biodiversity benefits of carbon offset schemes.

Melbourne: Jose Lahoz-Monfort moves into movies “A short while ago, I published a paper with Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita and Brendan Wintle about the impact of disregarding imperfect detection when modelling the distribution of species… …I won’t get here into the details of our study (you can read a Decision Point article about it in issue #77 here or as a blog entry in the Qaeco website here). What matters is that when we heard about the ‘Great EDG Video Competition’, Guru and I thought this study provided a great excuse to have some fun while experimenting with new ways (for us!) of communicating science to the broader audience. We set out to produce our video having ‘managers’ as a target audience, or in a broader sense, people with direct responsibility of making decisions about wildlife and habitat management that require some knowledge about where a species is or is not. When this knowledge comes in the form of a ‘species distribution model’ that is based on survey data, decisions may unknowingly be impacted by the effects that imperfect detection of the focal species can have on the distribution modelling. And that’s exactly what our paper is about!” http://joselahozresearch.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/from-paper-to-movie/

Brisbane: Sam Nicol publishes on optimal water depth management on river-fed National Wildlife Refuges in a changing climate “Species protected by wildlife refuges need different kinds of habitats, so what is the best way to manage the refuge to provide for a range of species? To answer the question for our study refuges, we used Markov decision processes to optimize the mix of waterfowl habitats in wetland National Wildlife Refuges under projected future inflows. Interestingly, there was enough flow to meet the habitat objectives, but the size and shape of the refuge pools actually prevented some of the refuges from meeting their specified habitat objectives.”

Reference: Nicol S, Griffith B, Austin J, Hunter C (2014). Optimal water depth management on river-fed National Wildlife Refuges in a changing climate. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-1033-8

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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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