Dbytes #186 (3 March 2015)

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

“After a while he got into the rhythm of it and started playing the private little quantity surveying game that everybody plays in these circumstances. “Let’s see,” he thought. “I’ve done nearly a quarter, let’s call it a third, so when I’ve done that corner by the hay rack, it’ll be more than half, call it five eights, which means three more wheel barrow loads…” it doesn’t prove anything very much except that the awesome splendour of the universe is much easier to deal with if you think of it as a series of small chunks.”

Terry Prachett on shovelling horse manure (from the book Mort)

General News

1. Applications for 2016 Academy honorific awards now open

2. Fungimap

3. National survey of people’s willingness to assist marine science

4. ECOS is now a blog

5. The retraction war

EDG News

Melbourne: Quantifying ecosystem quality by modelling multi-attribute expert opinion
Canberra: Contrasting effects of pine plantations on two skinks
Perth:
Katrina Davis wins research communication award at the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference
Brisbane: Assessing species vulnerability to climate change.

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General News

1. Applications for 2016 Academy honorific awards now open

The Academy is calling for nominations for next year’s prestigious honorific awards for scientific excellence. The 2016 awards are open to career and early- and mid-career researchers, and recognise scientific excellence across a range of disciplines in the physical and biological sciences. https://www.science.org.au/honorific-awards

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2. Fungimap

Fungimap is one of the largest citizen science groups in Australia and – with over 100,000 fungi records available online– is the biggest single contributor of fungi records to the Atlas of Living Australia. Fungimap uses information gathered by volunteer observers across Australia, from professionals to amateurs, to map the distribution of target species of Australian fungi. The target species have been selected for their relative ease of identification and the fact that they are generally widespread. http://www.ala.org.au/blogs-news/fungimap-putting-australian-fungi-on-the-map/

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3. National survey of people’s willingness to assist marine science

The Marine ExChanges project has just launched Australia’s first national survey of people’s willingness to assist marine science. Vicki Martin is looking at whether public participation in marine science has the potential to increase Australian’s engagement in science. Inspiring Australia identified marine science as presenting opportunities for greater science engagement, so her survey is asking marine users across the country if, why and how they want to get involved in marine research (or not!). Marine ExChanges National Survey of Marine Users (20th Feb – 20th April 2015) More info: http://bit.ly/marineexchanges

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4. ECOS is now a blog

Since 1974, the magazine ECOS has reported on sustainability issues from a scientific perspective for Australia’s national scientific research agency, CSIRO. Through well-researched features and news updates on current issues and relevant research, ECOS serves as a forum for: • invigorating discussion on the environment and sustainability • raising awareness of ecological principles, and • explaining the challenges and benefits of good sustainable development. In 2011, after 37 years, the magazine moved to an online only format extending its reach to a broader national and international community of interest. All content is freely accessible. In 2015, ECOS has moved to a blog format, joining other CSIRO blogs. You can access the full archive of stories from 1974 – 2014 and sign up to their email alert or RSS feed to keep up to date with new articles. https://blogs.csiro.au/ecos/

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5. The retraction war
[Recommended by Jeff Fitzgibbon]

Scientists seek demigod status, journals want blockbuster results, and retractions are on the rise: is science broken? http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/are-retraction-wars-a-sign-that-science-is-broken/

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EDG News

Melbourne: Quantifying ecosystem quality by modelling multi-attribute expert opinion “The evaluation of ecosystem quality is inherently subjective, requiring decisions about which variables to notice or measure, and how these variables are integrated into a coherent evaluation or metric. Despite the central role of human judgement, few evaluation methods address the subjectivity that is inherent in their design. There are potential advantages to using subjective opinion directly to create an expert system. A metric constructed ‘democratically’ from expert opinion could attract greater support and recognition from stakeholders, and encouragement data-driven criticism rather than subjective counter-opinion. In this work we created an expert system to express the quality of a Threatened grassland ecosystem in Victoria, Australia. The models performed well in internal and external validation tests, and ordered real sites according to their degree of modification. The resultant model can be used by managers as a tool to evaluate real sites. It can also be integrated into ecological models of change to represent utility in an assessment of cost-effectiveness of management options. The basic approach is applicable to any ecosystem, and we discuss the opportunities and limitations of its wider use.” Ref: Steve J. Sinclair, Peter Griffioen, David H. Duncan, Jessica Elizabeth Millett-Riley, and Matthew D. White (In press) Quantifying ecosystem quality by modelling multi-attribute expert opinion. Ecological Applications. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/14-1485.1

Canberra: Contrasting effects of pine plantations on two skinks “The conversion of agricultural land to forest plantations is a major driver of global land-use change, and considering that large portions of the planet are covered by forest plantations, understanding their impact on biodiversity is a research priority. The aim of our study was to quantify the long-term response of two lizard species to the transformation of the matrix surrounding remnant habitat patches (from agricultural land to pine plantations). We used a large-scale (115 sites), long-term (16 years) fully replicated and controlled landscape scale ‘natural experiment’ (the ‘Nanangroe experiment’, Australia) to compare the response of lizard populations to plantation establishment. The study entailed detailed surveys of reptiles in 50 eucalypt patches surrounded by maturing pine Pinus radiata plantations (treatments) and populations inhabiting 55 eucalypt patches surrounded by grazing land (controls). We found that the eastern three-toed earless skink Hemiergis talbingoensis was advantaged by the establishment of the pine plantations (increasing colonization of eucalypt patches embedded within plantations). In contrast, we found that the southern rainbow skink Carlia tetradactyla was negatively affected by surrounding areas of maturing plantations. Thus, our results show that plantations acted as a barrier for one species and increased connectivity for the other. We suggest that leaving areas of land devoid of pines between remnant eucalypt patches may enhance the connectivity for species that respond negatively to plantation establishment while maintaining the beneficial increase in connectivity for others.” Ref: Alessio Mortelliti, D. R. Michael & D. B. Lindenmayer (2015). Contrasting effects of pine plantations on two skinks: results from a large-scale ‘natural experiment’ in Australia. Animal Conservation doi:10.1111/acv.12190

Perth: Katrina Davis wins research communication award at the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference CEED PhD researcher Katrina Davis headed the team which recently won the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference “Quality of Research Communication Award”. This prize was awarded for Davis, K., Kragt, M., Gelcich, S., Schilizzi, S. and Pannell, D.J. (2015). Accounting for enforcement costs in the spatial allocation of marine zones, Conservation Biology 29(1), 226-237. [See her Decision Point story on this topic in the current issue of Decision Point at http://decision-point.com.au/?article=of-nets-fisher-rights-and-net-benefits]

Brisbane: Assessing species vulnerability to climate change. “As part of our work in the IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group https://iucn-ccsg.org/ the paper reviews key approaches to assessing species vulnerability to climate change. We identify strengths and weaknesses of the approaches and highlight the sources of uncertainty inherent in each method that limit projection reliability. Finally, we provide guidance for conservation practitioners in selecting the most appropriate approach(es) for their planning needs.” Tara Martin Ref: Pacifici, M., Foden, W.B., Visconti, P., Watson, J.E.M., Butchart, S.H.M., Kovacs, K.M., Scheffers, B.R., Hole, D.G., Martin, T.G., Akcakaya, H.R., Corlett, R.T., Huntley, B., Bickford, D., Carr, J.A., Hoffmann, A.A., Midgley, G.F., Pearce-Kelly, P., Pearson, R.G., Williams, S.E., Willis, S.G., Young, B., Rondinini, C., 2015. Assessing species vulnerability to climate change. Nature Climate Change 5, 215-224.

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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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it. To unsubscribe or change your details please visit: http://lists.science.uq.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/dbites

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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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