Dbytes #159 (29 July 2014)

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

“There are about 50 Orange-bellied Parrots remaining in the wild, and a captive breeding population of around 320 individuals. The species is at risk of extinction in the wild in the near-term. Current knowledge suggests that habitat loss and degradation, particularly in the non-breeding range, has caused the decline.”
From the National Recovery Plan for the orange-bellied parrot (see item 3)

General News

1. National strategy for ecosystem science released

2. Commonwealth Environmental Water Office Publications and resources3.

3. Draft National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot

4. Bush Blitz steps up search for Australia’s ‘hidden’ species

5. Biodiversity threats in the Kimberleys on the Bush Telegraph


EDG News

Canberra: David Lindenmayer et al on focal species
Perth: David Pannell on violence and economics
Christopher Jones on botanical illustration
Howard Wilson on protecting orangutans


General News

1. National strategy for ecosystem science released Foundations for the future: a long-term plan for Australian ecosystem science aims to ensure that Australia’s managed and natural ecosystems will be in as good a shape in 2035 to support the industries, native wildlife, landscapes and community wellbeing as they are today. The plan sets out the vision, key directions and priorities for a strong and sustainable national ecosystem science capability over the coming twenty years. It was developed through consultation between scientists, academics, natural resource management experts, the general community and ‘citizen scientists’ with hundreds of people involved through a series of town hall meetings held around the nation over the past twelve months. Key proposals of the Plan include: -A plan to engage the Australian public more closely in studying and protecting ecosystems -Closer links between science and end users in industry, government and the community -A continent-wide monitoring system to report on the condition of Australian ecosystems -Increased support for long-term research into the ways Australian ecosystems are changing -Pooling of national ecosystem research data and stronger cross-disciplinary collaborations http://www.ecosystemscienceplan.org.au/


2. Commonwealth Environmental Water Office Publications and resources

Dept of the Environment issued ‘Commonwealth environmental water use options 2014-15’. These documents are now available. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office welcomes information from the community on how environmental water can best be managed including further suggestions on the water use options. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/publications


3. Draft National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot Draft National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot, Neophema chrysogaster open for public comment. The consultation period closes 7 November 2014. http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/draft-national-recovery-plan-orange-bellied-parrot-neophema-chrysogaster


4. Bush Blitz steps up search for Australia’s ‘hidden’ species The world’s first continent-scale nature discovery project, Bush Blitz, is being ramped up to broaden the search for Australia’s least known plant and animal species. Bush Blitz has been extended until 2017 thanks to $12 million in funding from the Australian Government and BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, with each contributing $6 million. Bush Blitz is a pioneering partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia. http://www.bushblitz.org.au/


5. Biodiversity threats in the Kimberleys on the Bush Telegraph Josie Carwardine (CSIRO/EDG) was interviewed on the Bush Telegraph about biodiversity priorities for management in the Kimberleys.

“Dr Carwardine says the scientists looked at 637 species in the Kimberley and found 45 species, some which were endemic to the Kimberley, were at a very high risk of being lost. Some of those threatened species include the scaley-taled possum, a rock wallaby, the Gouldian Finch and the Golden-backed Tree Rat. She says $40m a year is needed to maintain the Kimberley’s biodiversity. [Editor’s note: $40 mill a year to save Kimberley’s biodiversity. Reflect on this with items 3 and 4.]



EDG News

Canberra: David Lindenmayer et al on focal species Lindenmayer, D.B., Lane, P.W., Westgate, M.J., Crane, M., Michael, D., Okada, S. and Barton, P.S. (2014). An empirical assessment of the focal species hypothesis. Conservation Biology, doi:10.1111/cobi.12330.

Abstract:  Biodiversity surrogates and indicators are commonly used in conservation management. The focal species approach (FSA) is one method for identifying biodiversity surrogates, and it is underpinned by the hypothesis that management aimed at a particular focal species will confer protection on co-occurring species. This concept has been the subject of much debate, in part because the validity of the FSA has not been subject to detailed empirical assessment of the extent to which a given focal species actually co-occurs with other species in an assemblage. To address this knowledge gap, we used large-scale, long-term data sets of temperate woodland birds to select focal species associated with threatening processes such as habitat isolation and loss of key vegetation attributes. We quantified co-occurrence patterns among focal species, species in the wider bird assemblage, and species of conservation concern. Some, but not all, focal species were associated with high levels of species richness. One of our selected focal species was negatively associated with the occurrence of other species (i.e., it was an antisurrogate)-a previously undescribed property of nominated focal species. Furthermore, combinations of focal species were not associated with substantially elevated levels of bird species richness, relative to levels associated with individual species. Our results suggest that although there is some merit to the underpinning concept of the FSA, there is also a need to ensure that actions are sufficiently flexible because management tightly focused on a given focal species may not benefit some other species, including species of conservation concern, such of which might not occur in species-rich assemblages.

Perth: David Pannell on violence and economics “There is clear evidence that violence within and between human societies has decreased dramatically through the course of human history. What are the links between economics and this most-welcome development?http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/2014/07/269-violence-and-economics-1/

Melbourne: Christopher Jones on botanical illustration “Being the son of a talented water colour artist (go Mum!), I have always been interested in art – both looking at it and making it. Over the years I have found that my favourite medium is graphite pencil, and my favourite subjects are hands and plants. Last summer I attended a botanical illustration course with the Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was grateful for the spark to renew my interest in doing some more of my own work.” http://csjonesresearch.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/botanical-illustration/

Brisbane: Howard Wilson on protecting orangutans “Currently, the two main strategies to conserve orangutans are rehabilitating and reintroducing ex-captive or displaced animals, and protecting their forest habitat to decrease threats such as deforestation and hunting. In the study, the researchers analysed which strategy or combination of strategies, and under what conditions, is the most cost-effective at maintaining wild orangutan populations. “Money is limited in conservation, and it is important to know how best to spend it,” says Dr Howard Wilson of CEED and UQ. “We found that the choice between habitat protection and rehabilitation depends on the cost of rehabilitation per orangutan and the rate of deforestation. If we want to maintain orangutan populations for less than 20 years, then reintroduction is best. But if we’re aiming for long-term species conservation, protecting their habitat is by far the best strategy. This is because reintroduction costs twelve times as much per animal compared with protecting its habitat, so rehabilitation is only a cost-effective strategy at very short timescales.” http://ceed.edu.au/images/media_releases/CEED%20orangutans%2017Jul14.pdf


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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