Dbytes #155 (1 July 2014)

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

“As well as being a daunting spending commitment, Europe’s agri-environment schemes also represent one of the world’s biggest ecological experiments — or they would do, had anyone bothered to formulate hypotheses or collect data.” John Whitfield (Nature, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7079/full/439908a.html)

General News

1. Release of Senate committee report into environmental offsets

2. ABARES issued ‘Drivers of practice change in land management in Australian agriculture. Synthesis report-Stages I, II and III’.

3. Update on NRM reporting tool – MERIT

4. Senate report on EPBC Amendment Bills

5. What irritates scientists most by media coverage of climate change?

EDG News
General:
Terry Walshe departs NERP ED
Canberra:
Nelida Villasenor on urbanisation impacts on mammals
Perth: Jodi Price and colleagues examine tree establishment in a semi-arid savanna
Melbourne: Qaecologists presenting at ISEC: the International Statistical Ecology Conference, Montpellier 2014
Brisbane: Justine Shaw and Yvonne Buckley at the International Workshop on Weeds and Invasive Plants

-~<>~- General News

1. Release of Senate committee report into environmental offsets

A Senate committee issued the report from its inquiry into environmental offsets. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Environmental_Offsets/Report/index Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who sat on the committee, said that report shows environmental offsets are utterly ineffective. http://greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/senate-inquiry-report-shows-environmental-offsets-not-working

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2. ABARES issued ‘Drivers of practice change in land management in Australian agriculture. Synthesis report-Stages I, II and III’. http://www.daff.gov.au/abares/pages/publications/display.aspx?url=http://143.188.17.20/anrdl/DAFFService/display.php?fid=pc_dpclmd9abh_20140626_11a.xml

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3. Update on NRM reporting tool – MERIT

The Department’s online natural resource management (NRM) reporting tool MERIT (the Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Tool) was recently featured at the Atlas of Living Australia Science Symposium at the Academy of Science. MERIT was introduced by the Department in December last year, and has allowed a large proportion of NRM grant reporting – over 770 projects – to be moved to a web-based format. MERIT has now been in operation for six months and NRM grant recipients have recently used MERIT for the first time to complete their progress reports. To date, the system has over 1,200 registered users and has had well over 15,000 visits since going live. At the symposium, presentations covered the strengths of MERIT, how it has improved the efficiency of grant reporting processes, and linkages between MERIT and other Atlas of Living Australia databases. MERIT can be accessed at https://fieldcapture.ala.org.au/

-~<>~- 4. Senate report on EPBC Amendment Bills

A Senate committee issued the report from its inquiry into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 [Provisions] and a related bill and cost recovery. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/EPBC_Bilats_and_cost_recovery_Bills/Report/index-~<>~-

5. What irritates scientists most by media coverage of climate change?
[contributed by Toss Gascoigne] Graham Redfearn surveys 9 leading scientists on media coverage of climate change. So what irritates them most? -people will accept medical advice, but argue with experts on climate -using ‘uncertainty’ as an excuse for non-action -reduction of complexities to simple slogans (“axe the tax’) -perception that science is in violent disagreement http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/jun/26/what-really-annoys-scientists-about-the-state-of-the-climate-change-debate

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EDG News

General: Terry Walshe departs NERP ED A message from NERP ED’s Director, Hugh Possingham: Monday 30 June was Terry Walshe’s last day as knowledge broker with NERP ED. We are sad to note that our outstanding NERP liaison person (plus lamp post/ researcher/ problem-solver/ trainer extraordinaire) is leaving us for AIMS. Terry has been a major part of the success of our NERP hub; he will be impossible to replace. We wish him well and we are ever hopeful that his turn to the salty warm side of applied ecology will enable us to strengthen our links with AIMS, so maybe it won’t be good-bye after all. PS – if you know another Terry, tell me.

Canberra: Nelida Villasenor on urbanisation impacts on mammals “With accelerating rates of urbanization worldwide, a better understanding of ecological processes at the wildland-urban interface is critical to conserve biodiversity. We explored the effects of high and low-density housing developments on forest-dwelling mammals. Based on habitat characteristics, we expected a gradual decline in species abundance across forest-urban edges and an increased decline rate in higher contrast edges. We surveyed arboreal mammals in sites of high and low housing density along 600 m transects that spanned urban areas and areas turn on adjacent native forest. We also surveyed forest controls to test whether edge effects extended beyond our edge transects… …Our empirical work demonstrates that high-density housing developments have negative effects on both community and species level responses, except for one urban adapter. We developed a new predictive model of edge effects based on our results and the literature. To predict animal responses across edges, our framework integrates for first time: (1) habitat quality/preference, (2) species response with the proximity to the adjacent habitat, and (3) spillover extent/sensitivity to adjacent habitat boundaries.” Reference: Villaseñor NR, Driscoll DA, Escobar MAH, Gibbons P, Lindenmayer DB (2014) Urbanization Impacts on Mammals across Urban-Forest Edges and a Predictive Model of Edge Effects. PLoS ONE 9(5): e97036.  doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097036 http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0097036

Perth: Jodi Price and colleagues examine tree establishment in a semi-arid savannaJodi Price and colleagues recently published a paper examining tree establishment in a semi-arid savanna. It is often expected that tree seedlings are limited by grass competition in savannas, and that this is important for tree-grass coexistence. In this paper, they found that grass cover was essential for seedling survival, and that facilitation was actually more important for tree establishment. Seasonality was also important – no tree seedlings survived over summer regardless of grass cover. This study highlights the importance of climatic variability for tree-grass coexistence in savannas. Reference: Good et al. (2014) Seasonality and facilitation drive tree establishment in a semi-arid floodplain savanna. Oecologia 175: 261-271.

Melbourne: Qaecologists presenting at ISEC: the International Statistical Ecology Conference, Montpellier 2014 “So, it is going to be another quiet winter in the QAECO lab. A whole bunch of us will be migrating north to Europe and other warmer climes. For many the first staging post will be the south of France [sigh], for the International Statistical Ecology Conference in Montpellier to be held next week (1-4 of July). Here is a list of the keen qaecologists presenting their work during the conference…” http://qaeco.com/2014/06/23/qaecologists-presenting-at-the-international-statistical-ecology-conference-montpellier-2014/#more-2443

Brisbane: Justine Shaw and Yvonne Buckley at the International Workshop on Weeds and Invasive Plants Justine Shaw (UQ NERP) and Yvonne Buckley (CEED Trinity College) have spent the week at the International Workshop on Weeds and Invasive Plants in the Spanish Pyrenees. 35 people from around the world (e.g. Israel, Denmark, Italy, Brazil, UK, USA, NZ) have been discussing new emergent topics in invasive plant and weed research. The innovative workshop format involved “ground-breaking hypotheses sessions, soap box rants, ECR lead perspective discussions”. Discussions were also taken to the spectacular mountains, as we talked science we saw marmots, lammergeirs and beautiful wild flowers. New collaborations have been made and manuscripts are underway.

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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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