Dbytes #156 (8 July 2014)

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

“But we cannot continue to do what we have always done. We need to rethink our approach to threatened species.” Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment (as part of his announcement of a new Threatened Species Commissioner. (see item 1).

General News

1. The Government has appointed Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner.

2. The ABS issued ‘Land Management and Farming in Australia, 2012-13’.

3. The Greater Alpine National Parks Draft Management Plan is now available for public comment.

4. Efforts to prevent cane toad invasion across Kimberley have failed

5. IUCN Red List criteria useful as an early warning for extinction threat

EDG News

Perth: Rachel Standish, Richard Hobbs and colleagues offer their perspective on measuring resilience
Melbourne: Reid Tingley on newts appearing around Melbourne
Brisbane: Hugh Possingham speaks on the about Conservation Triage on BBC
Canberra: Karen Ikin discusses her recent PhD research in the current ESA bulletin

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General News

1. The Government has appointed Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner. excerpt from the announcement “Mr Gregory Andrews takes up this position at a critical time in our efforts to halt a potential tide of extinctions. In his role as Commissioner, Mr Andrews will bring a new national focus to the conservation efforts for Australia’s endangered native flora and fauna. “Mr Andrews will work closely with some of Australia’s most respected scientists in the national Threatened Species Scientific Committee to ensure that practical action is taken to safeguard our native threatened species. As a public servant and former diplomat with experience inside and outside of government, Mr Andrews has a proven capacity to bring people together to design and successfully implement practical solutions to complicated problems.” Announcement plus two interviews with the new Commissioner http://www.greghunt.com.au/Media/MediaReleases/tabid/86/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2881/Threatened-Species-protection.aspx http://www.greghunt.com.au/Media/Transcripts/tabid/89/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2883/Transcript-Doorstop-Sydney.aspx http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/new-threatened-species-commissioner-has-2-billion-war-chest/5567966

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2. The ABS issued ‘Land Management and Farming in Australia, 2012-13’.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/latestProducts/4627.0Media%20Release12012-13

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3. The Greater Alpine National Parks Draft Management Plan is now available for public comment. The management plan is a strategic guide to the management of Alpine, Baw Baw, Errinundra, Mount Buffalo and Snowy River National Parks, Avon Wilderness Park, Tara Range Park, and Walhalla, Howqua Hills, Grant, Mount Wills and Mount Murphy Historic Areas. The draft plan is an opportunity to contribute to the area’s management, via written submissions. Download a PDF version of the draft plan and maps from the Alps Resources page, along with the Guidelines for Public Submissions and the Q&A.

http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/walhalla-h.a/plans-and-projects/greater-alpine-management-plan/resources

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4. Efforts to prevent cane toad invasion across Kimberley have failed FRONTLINE efforts to prevent the cane toad invasion across the Kimberley have failed and there are no methods available to stop the toxic creatures, a review has found. The Department of Parks of Wildlife review into the West Australian government’s cane toad strategy said several proposals to fight the pest had been investigated but were found not viable. The state government has so far spent $7.8 million trying to combat the pesky amphibians over the past five years. The proposals included the use of parasitic lungworms to slow or reduce toad populations, fencing to exclude them from critical habitat and creating additional checkpoints to minimise satellite populations. http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/department-of-parks-of-wildlife-review-into-wa-government-cane-toad-strategy-finds-they-cant-be-stopped/story-fnhocxo3-1226968108685?nk=beb7c02d6194837e5deadb681d2f5840

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5. IUCN Red List criteria useful as an early warning for extinction threat The IUCN Red List criteria perform well as an early warning system for short-lived species threatened by climate change, according to recent research. Using the Red List criteria, the study identified Assa darlingtoni, an Australian frog, as being at risk of extinction up to 85 years before a model predicted it was likely to become extinct. Source: Keith, D.A., Mahony, M., Hines, H. et al. (2014). Detecting Extinction Risk from Climate Change by IUCN Red List Criteria. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12234

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EDG News

Perth: Rachel Standish, Richard Hobbs and colleagues offer their perspective on measuring resilience

A group of 13 ecologists from the UK, USA and Germany assembled in the small town of Albany, south-western Australia, in September 2009 to discuss the application of the resilience concept to ecosystem management. After a series of thought-provoking, sometimes conflicting, but ultimately helpful reviews, their perspective has recently been published in Biological Conservation. In it, the authors revive Buzz Holling’s definition of ecological resilience and the importance of thresholds in particular. Numerous ecological studies from marine and terrestrial systems revealed evidence for the contribution of landscape connectivity, scale and functional diversity to resilience. The authors suggest how to manage these factors to restore and maintain resilient ecosystems. In doing so they hope to confirm its place as a guiding concept for biological conservation in our rapidly changing world. Reference: Standish RJ, Hobbs RJ, Mayfield MM, et al. 2014. Resilience in ecology: Abstraction, distraction, or where the action is? Biological Conservation DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.06.008

Melbourne: Reid Tingley on newts appearing around Melbourne

It seems pet salamanders have broken out with the discovery of many specimens of the European or smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) living wild in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. And that could have dire consequences for Australia’s aquatic biodiversity. The introduction and its potential consequences are discussed in a new study published in Biological Invasions. “Some of the sites where we have detected newts are quite far apart, so we suspect that the species has spread considerably, and has established itself in more areas than our study has revealed,” says EDG researcher Dr Reid Tingley, the lead author on the paper. “The smooth newt was available in the pet trade for decades before the Victorian government declared it a ‘controlled pest animal’ in 1997. This invasion therefore likely originated from the release or escape of captive animals.” Tingley says as this is the first newt species found in the wild in Australia, the researchers cannot yet say how widely the species will spread or what sort of impact it will have on native wildlife. http://www.ceed.edu.au/images/media_releases/CEED_newts_30Jun14.pdf

Brisbane: Hugh Possingham speaks on the about Conservation Triage on BBC How does the world of conservation set its priorities? BBCs Shared Planet reports from Qatar and the effort being spent to save the Spix Macaw from extinction in captivity. Occasionally, when the battle to save a species from extinction has almost been lost, the only alternative is to catch the remaining individuals to be kept safe and bred in captivity with no certainly of ever being returned to the wild. In this episode of Shared Planet Monty Don asks whether last hope fights to prevent single extinctions are viable or do we need to start prioritising conservation funding to secure the future or greater numbers of species? He speaks to Nigel Collar and Hugh Possingham. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0477ph3

Canberra: Karen Ikin discusses her recent PhD research in the current ESA bulletin “Australia has one of the most highly urbanised populations in the world, with almost nine out of ten people living in an urban area. Land conversion for urbanisation represents a major form of landscape change, which affects many ecological processes. Previous studies have shown that urban areas vary in their capacity to support biodiversity, suggesting that the appropriate design of urban landscapes could lead to improved outcomes for biodiversity conservation. To design biodiversity‐friendly urban landscapes, conservationists, policy makers, planners and developers must understand what landscape features are valuable for biodiversity. My PhD research aimed to provide whole‐of‐ landscape scientific evidence on which to base planning, management and conservation priorities. I asked: (1) what are the relationships between birds and their habitat in urban and future urban landscapes? And (2) how can we use this information to guide urban planning and management strategies to achieve conservation outcomes? I approached these questions from three perspectives representing the spectrum of urbanisation: from landscapes on the brink of urbanisation, to the urban fringe, to established urban greenspaces…” http://www.ecolsoc.org.au/publications/bulletin/spotlight-students

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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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