Dbytes #188 (17 March 2015)

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

“First thoughts are everyday thoughts. Everyone has those. Second thoughts are the thoughts you think about the way you think. People who enjoy thinking have those. Third thoughts are thoughts that watch the world and think all by themselves. They’re rare and often troublesome. Listening to them is part of witchcraft.” Terry Pratchett, A Hat full of Sky. [Recommended by Ted Lefroy. Editor’s note: Terry Pratchett passed away last week and the world has lost a special voice.]

General News

1. Species of National Environmental Significance maps

2. Valuing the Environment in Conservation Economics

3. The displacement of the gentle: consequences for sustainability

4. Pollinating birds and mammals declining

5. New laws protecting turtles and dugong

EDG News

Perth: Keren Raiter on ‘art and inspiration at Bungalbin
Brisbane: Nathalie Butt et al on climate extremes on vertebrates through changes to tree flowering and fruiting.
Melbourne: Rosanna van Hespen on detecting wildlife with camera traps
Canberra: Alessio Mortelliti et al on drivers of population synchrony in bird assemblages

-~<>~- General News

1. Species of National Environmental Significance maps The Dept of the Environment has issued version 2 of the Species of National Environmental Significance maps and associated GIS data products. http://www.environment.gov.au/science/erin/databases-maps/snes

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2. Valuing the Environment in Conservation Economics [By Fabien Medvecky, former EDG associate now at the Uni of Otago] Abstract: Valuing conservation and biodiversity outcomes in economic analysis is difficult, as it is in health economics. Because health economics has previously had to respond to the many challenges currently faced by conservation economics, health economists have developed very successful tools for responding to these challenges which conservation economists can draw upon. What is surprising is that despite rhetorical support for the use of these economic analysis tools in conservation valuations, in practice, these economic tools are used far less frequently in conservation and biodiversity decision then they are in health decisions. Drawing on a simple database search and an analysis of universities that lead in both economics and environmental studies, this paper considers why conservation economists stick with philosophically and pragmatically difficult economic tools when they have other options, and argues that part of the reasons is the way conservation economics is framed and conceptualised. Ref: Medvecky F (2014). Valuing the Environment in Conservation Economics: Conceptual and Structural Barriers. Ethics and the Environment. 19: 39-55. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ethics_and_the_environment/v019/19.2.medvecky.html

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3. The displacement of the gentle: consequences for sustainability [Recommended by Anna Renwick] “some individuals are highly responsive to environmental stimuli, while others are not. Among humans, the highly responsive individuals have been termed highly sensitive. Such responsiveness to stimuli, or sensitivity, has consequences for how these individuals act, but also for how they are being perceived by the rest of society (and how well they “fit in”). Not just among humans, but also in other species, such highly responsive individuals make up something like 20% of the population. According to Elaine Aron – who wrote a lot on this topic – the inherent trait of high responsiveness to environmental stimuli (or high sensitivity) tends to result in individuals deeply processing information, getting easily over-stimulated, being relatively more empathetic, and reacting to subtleties in their environment…” https://ideas4sustainability.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/the-displacement-of-the-gentle-consequences-for-sustainability/

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4. Pollinating birds and mammals declining According to a new study by IUCN and partners, the conservation status of pollinating bird and mammal species is deteriorating, with more species moving towards extinction than away from it. On average, 2.4 bird and mammal pollinator species per year have moved one IUCN Red List category towards extinction in recent decades, representing a substantial increase in extinction risk across this set of species. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12162/abstract -~<>~-

5. New laws protecting turtles and dugong New laws have been passed that triple penalties for killing or injuring turtles and dugong. The amendments responded to concerns about ongoing illegal poaching and trading of these species, and have increased criminal and civil financial penalties for killing, injuring, taking, trading, keeping or moving a turtle or a dugong in a Commonwealth marine area, and for taking or injuring turtles and dugong within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/hunt/2015/mr20150212b.html -~<>~-

EDG News

Perth: Keren Raiter on ‘art and inspiration at Bungalbin Keren Raiter was a presenter at a Wilderness Society’s ‘Art, Inspiration & Action’ event, to raise awareness of the threat facing the Helena-Aurora Range located in the Great Western Woodlands of Western Australia. The range, whose Aboriginal name is “Bungalbin”, is under threat from iron ore mining. Keren performed a poem and presented photographs from her field work to gather support for its conservation. http://sustainingecology.com/2015/03/14/art-and-inspiration-bungalbin/

Brisbane: Nathalie Butt et al on climate extremes on vertebrates through changes to tree flowering and fruiting. “We have just published a review in Global Change Biology looking at the impact of climate extremes on vertebrate fauna through changes to the timing of flower and fruit production. Forest vertebrate fauna provide critical services, such as pollination and seed dispersal, which underpin functional and resilient ecosystems. There is emerging evidence that the flowering phenology, nectar/pollen production, and fruit production of long-lived trees in tropical and subtropical forests are being impacted by changes in frequency and severity of climate extremes. The combined impact of these changes has the potential to result in cascading effects on ecosystems through changes in pollinator and seed dispersal ecology and demands a focused research effort.” Ref: Butt, N., Seabrook, L., Maron, M., Law, B. S., Dawson, T. P., Syktus, J. and McAlpine, C. A. (2015), Cascading effects of climate extremes on vertebrate fauna through changes to low-latitude tree flowering and fruiting phenology. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12869 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12869/abstract;jsessionid=11FD4DDA76C590D631874C77B782A392.f03t03

Melbourne: Rosanna van Hespen on detecting wildlife with camera traps “I am researching how we can best use camera traps to monitor foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the mallee. I don’t know much about camera traps yet, so I decided to learn more about best practice in detecting wildlife with camera traps. Here’s what I found. Camera traps are a useful monitoring tool that has become increasingly popular in wildlife monitoring over the past decade. They are relatively new compared to more traditional tools and techniques, but, just as with any other tool, you want to be using it the right way. What affects camera trap performance in wildlife surveys (particularly monitoring change in fox abundance) and how should they best be set up?” https://rosannavanhespenresearch.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/detecting-wildlife-with-camera-traps/

Canberra: Alessio Mortelliti et al on drivers of population synchrony in bird assemblages “Spatial population synchrony is defined as the coincidental changes of population density or other demographic parameters over time. Synchrony between local populations is believed to be widespread in nature because it has been found across a range of ecological guilds and across large spatial scales. However, a detailed understanding is still lacking of the extent of synchronous patterns in population parameters across animal communities, and of the relative importance of the several potential causes of population synchrony. This study aimed to contribute to the understanding of how widespread spatial synchrony is in bird communities and to identify the main ecological drivers of synchrony. To achieve this we examined patterns of synchrony among bird populations inhabiting two contrasting areas of southeast Australia: the Victoria Central Highlands and Booderee National Park. Bird populations were studied through yearly point counts spanning 2004–2012 in Victoria and 2003–2012 in Booderee National Park. Our empirical assessment showed that spatial proximity, synchrony in weather (cumulative rainfall) and habitat type influenced the level of spatial synchrony in 11 out of the 38 species examined (i.e. 29% of the species). Synchrony was primarily driven by spatial proximity, followed by synchrony in rainfall; habitat similarity played a small role as driver of synchrony in both areas.” Ref: Mortelliti A., Westgate M., Stein J., Lindenmayer D.B. 2015. Ecological and spatial drivers of population synchrony in bird assemblages. Basic and Applied Ecology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2015.01.008

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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.

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/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

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