Dbytes #162 (19 August 2014)

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

“Hierarchy is great for maintaining predictability and repeatability. It simplifies planning and makes it easier to control a large group of people from the top down, which is why military organizations rely on it so heavily. But when you’re an entertainment company that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value. We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they’ll flourish.” From the Valve handbook for new employees [recommended by Hawthorne Beyer, who thinks this ethic also rules in the EDG; see http://www.decision-point.com.au/images/DPoint_files/DPoint_81/separate_stories/dp_81_p4_editorial.pdf]

General News

1. Australia’s Best Ecology Blogs

2. Does size matter? Population projections from the ABS 20 and 50 years from 2013

3. A review of Biodiversity Legislation in NSW

4. Strategic assessment and 25-year management plan for Great Barrier Reef

5. Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park

EDG News

Brisbane: Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and colleagues on climate change, land-use and freshwater life
Canberra: Radio National program on Mason Crane’s farm
Perth: Richard Hobbs co-authors study on fruit and flower availability in restoration.
Melbourne: Stefano Canessa on optimal reintroductions of threatened species

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General News

1. Australia’s Best Ecology Blogs Ian Lunt from Charles Sturt University has started a Facebook page which includes lots of blog posts from members of the Environmental Decision Group, including staff and students at Uni Melb, ANU and UQ, plus many others. The goal is to widen the audience for great popular science writing by ecologists and conservation scientists. Check it out for yourself at https://www.facebook.com/Best.Ecology.Blogs

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2. Does size matter? Population projections from the ABS 20 and 50 years from 2013

Periodically there is debate within Australia as to how big or small our population should be in the future. This sparks interest in what is driving growth, and what would happen to the size and structure of Australia’s population if these drivers were to change. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4102.0Main%20Features82014?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4102.0&issue=2014&num=&view=

Business as usual (if current trends continue): Under this scenario, the population would be 31 million in 2033. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over would increase to 19% (from 14%), and the proportion of children (under 15) would decrease slightly to 18%. The working age population would decrease to 63% of the population, and there would be 59 ‘dependents’ for every 100 ‘workers’. The proportion of people aged 85 and over would increase to 3%. Fast forward another 30 years to 2063, and the population would have reached 42 million. The proportion of people aged 65 and over would be 23%, while 17% would be aged under 15. The working age population would decrease to 61% of the population, and the dependency ratio would be 65% (65 ‘dependents’ for every 100 ‘workers’). The proportion of people aged 85 and over would more than double from its 2013 level to 5%.

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3. A review of Biodiversity Legislation in NSW

The Minister for the Environment, NSW, has appointed an independent panel to undertake a comprehensive review of the Native Vegetation Act 2003, Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and related legislation. A major holistic review of biodiversity legislation (including native vegetation laws) in NSW has never been undertaken. The current legislative framework has become fragmented, overly complex and process driven. The review provides an opportunity to address inadequacies in the current legislative framework and develop a modernised biodiversity law that will facilitate the conservation of biological diversity, support sustainable development and reduce red tape. The Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel has been asked to maintain an active program of stakeholder engagement throughout the review process. The Review Panel has released an issues paper and encourages all interested people and organisations to make a written submission. Submissions close on Friday 5 September.

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/biodiversitylegislation/index.htm

 

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4. Strategic assessment and 25-year management plan for Great Barrier Reef

[from GBRMPA] “Our 25-year management plan outlines how we will strengthen Reef management and new initiatives such as clear targets for action and Reef-wide integrated monitoring. It follows a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, which we undertook in conjunction with the Queensland Government. The assessment looked at the marine environment and adjacent coastal zone, examining how natural and heritage values can be protected into the future. The strategic assessment feeds in to the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, an overarching framework for improving the Reef’s resilience. http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/managing-the-reef/strategic-assessment

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5. Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park The Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park is currently being reviewed and your input will help shape the next plan. Here you can join the conversation about the Wild Horse Management Plan Review till 30 November 2014, access useful resources, share the conversation on social media and find out about the review process and the opportunities to have your say. https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies

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EDG News

Brisbane: Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and colleagues on climate change, land-use and freshwater life

Climate change and land-use change are having substantial impacts on biodiversity world-wide, but few studies have considered the impact of these factors together. If the combined effects of climate and land-use change are greater than the effects of each threat individually, current conservation management strategies may be inefficient and/or ineffective. This is particularly important with respect to freshwater ecosystems because freshwater biodiversity has declined faster than either terrestrial or marine biodiversity over the last three decades. This study found high nutrients and high runoff as a result of urbanization combined with high nutrients and high water temperature as a result of climate change and were the leading drivers of potential declines in macroinvertebrates and fish at fine scales. Press release: http://www.nerpdecisions.edu.au/images/NERP_freshwater_30July14.pdf Reference: Mantyka-Pringle, C. S., Martin, T. G., Moffatt, D. B., Linke, S., Rhodes, J. R. (2014), Understanding and predicting the combined effects of climate change and land-use change on freshwater macroinvertebrates and fish. Journal of Applied Ecology, 51: 572–581. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12236 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12236/abstract

Canberra: Radio National program on Mason Crane’s farm Mason Crane, one of David Lindenmayer’s PhD students and researchers, is also a farmer in south western NSW. His work and his farm were the focus of ‘Off Track’ on Radio National. Can a sheep farm be a biodiversity haven? Listen and find out for yourself: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/offtrack/can-a-sheep-farm-be-a-biodiversity-haven/5658898

Perth: Richard Hobbs co-authors study on fruit and flower availability in restoration. Abstract: Frugivores and pollinators are two functional groups of animals that help ensure gene flow of plants among sites in landscapes under restoration and to accelerate restoration processes. Resource availability is postulated to be a key factor to structure animal communities using restoration sites, but it remains poorly studied. We expected that diverse forests with many plant growth forms that have less-seasonal phenological patterns will provide more resources for animals than forests with fewer plant growth forms and strongly seasonal phenological patterns. We studied forests where original plantings included high tree species diversity. We studied resource provision (richness and abundance of flowers and fruits) of all plant growth forms, in three restoration sites of different ages compared to a reference forest, investigating whether plant phenology changes with restoration process. We recorded phenological data for reproductive plant individuals (351 species) with monthly sampling over 2 years, and found that flower and fruit production have been recovered after one decade of restoration, indicating resource provision for fauna. Our data suggest that a wide range of plant growth forms provides resource complementarities to those of planted tree species. Different flower phenologies between trees and non-trees seem to be more evident in a forest with high non-tree species diversity. We recommend examples of ideal species for planting, both at the time of initial planting and post-planting during enrichment. These management actions can minimize shortage and periods of resource scarcity for frugivorous and nectarivorous fauna, increasing probability of restoring ecological processes and sustainability in restoration sites.

Reference: Garcia, L. C., Hobbs, R. J., Mäes dos Santos, F. A. and Rodrigues, R. R. (2014), Flower and Fruit Availability along a Forest Restoration Gradient. Biotropica, 46: 114–123. doi: 10.1111/btp.12080 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/btp.12080/full

Melbourne: Stefano Canessa on optimal reintroductions of threatened species “The release of animals into the wild is a key step in reintroduction programs, but it can be complicated by the life history of the species, limited resources and uncertainty about the outcomes. In this paper, we show how to make rational decisions in such cases. We assessed the program for the Corroboree frog in Mt. Kosciuszko National Park, finding the optimal proportion of eggs and adults that we should release to ensure the wild population kept growing, the captive population did not go extinct and our annual budget was not exceeded. You can read the paper for free here, a comment by the Journal’s Editor here, and a short summary on my blog here.” Reference: Canessa, S., Hunter, D., McFadden, M., Marantelli, G. and McCarthy, M.A. (2014). Optimal release strategies for cost-effective reintroductions. Journal of Applied Ecology 51(4): 1107-1115. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12253 -~<>~- 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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