Dbytes #196 (19 May 2015)

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

“A nine-month Senate inquiry has revealed that Australia is failing dismally to keep new invasive species out of the country. This was exemplified in the inquiry’s case studies of the deadly plant pathogen myrtle rust, which has spread throughout Australia’s eastern seaboard, and tramp ants such as the highly invasive red fire ants and yellow crazy ants that have repeatedly arrived through our ports.” Andrew Cox, CEO, Invasive Species Council CEO in a media release on the inquiry http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5a02d0c5ba045796a288f0506&id=14e20d14cf&e=9d60099ef5 [and see item 2]

General News

1. Jobs and Leadbeaters possums

2. Senate enquiry on Environmental Biosecurity

3. Accounting for career breaks

4. The Centre for Open Science

5. Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and Restoring the Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia

EDG News

Perth: John Wiens and Richard Hobbs on integrating conservation and restoration
Advice to PhD applicants: choosing and being chosen for PhD research
Melbourne: Stefano Canessa on trade-offs in destructive sampling designs for occupancy surveys
Alessio Mortelliti & David Lindenmayer on effects of landscape transformation on bird colonization and extinction patterns


General News

1. Jobs and Leadbeaters possums Editor’s note: In the last issue of Dbytes I ran a quote at the beginning from a lobby group that suggested 21,000 families depended on the forestry operations in Victoria’s Central Highland region. That quote read: “Thousands of businesses and families throughout Victoria also derive their livelihood from timber and paper production activities from the Central Highland region. Everyone wants to ensure the [Leadbeater’s] possum’s survival – but equally we must ensure the survival of the businesses which put food on the table of 21,000 families in Victoria”. Australian Forest Products Association on the listing of the Leadbeater’s possum as Critically Endangered http://www.ausfpa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/23.04.15-Leadbeaters-Possum-and-industry-can-co-exist.pdf

I received a couple of queries from readers suggesting this number of jobs seemed highly inflated. The opening quotes are included to add a bit of colour to Dbytes. They aim to inform and provoke by presenting statements appearing in the public discourse relating to biodiversity conservation. The above statement is the industry lobby’s claim on the nature of one trade off. David Lindenmayer has asked that I share the following information on the topic of jobs and the Victorian forest industry. (I have copies of the reports he cites and can send them to anyone interested. As a rule, I don’t include attachments with Dbytes.) From David Lindenmayer: “The 21,000 is a misrepresentation of the total number of jobs in the entire Victorian forest industry as reported in Jacki Schirmer’s 2013 report – Socio-economic characteristics of Victoria’s forestry industries, 2009-2012 (copy of Part 1, section 4 attached, see table 6). “In VicForests Preliminary FSC Assessment (SCS Global 2014) the number of forest workers is given in 1.5 (p. 7, attached) as 447 male and 38 female. This includes around 100 employees of VicForests. “In January 2015 Murrindindi Shire Council’s submission to VicForests Ecologically Sustainable Management Plan stated, “Industry of employment data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates 45 people within Murrindindi Shire work in the forestry and logging industry. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2011 Census)” “Similarly Yarra Ranges Council estimates 56 jobs in its municipality.”


2. Senate enquiry on Environmental Biosecurity http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/biosecurity/Report


3. Accounting for career breaks

A Science editorial by Emily Nicholson “Early in my scientific career, I pursued research while remaining blissfully unaware of the difficulty of securing a permanent academic position, especially for women and mothers. I drifted happily through a Ph.D. and two postdocs abroad, guided by interesting science, people, and places—and a non-scientist husband with ideas about where he wanted to live. It wasn’t until I had been a postdoc for several years, with two children and a third on the way, that I recognized the need to adopt a sound strategic approach to securing a tenured faculty position, particularly given my career breaks.” Ref: Emily Nicholson (2015). Working Life, Accounting for career breaks Science Vol. 348 no. 6236 p. 830 DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6236.830


[Editor’s note: for more career advice, see Brisbane news]


4. The Centre for Open Science
[recommended by Ascelin Gordon]

“The Centre for Open Science is a is a non-profit technology company with the aim of fostering the “openness, integrity and reproducibility of scientific research”. Of potential interest to EDG members is the fact they offer free statistical and methodological consulting, as well as all sorts of advice for increasing reproducibility of your scientific work. This could be a useful resource and they are happy to provide support to people anywhere in the world. See http://centerforopenscience.org/stats_consulting

Also worth looking at is their free Open Science Framework (https://osf.io ) which provides a useful online platform for undertaking collaborative research. It integrates multiple online services, and is also looks great for archiving and sharing data and results” http://centerforopenscience.org/


5. Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and Restoring the Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia

From CSIRO Publishing. Aims to provide all involved in grassland management and restoration with the technical information necessary to conserve and enhance native grasslands. http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/20/pid/7219.htm


EDG News

Perth: John Wiens and Richard Hobbs on integrating conservation and restoration “Conservation biology and restoration ecology share a common interest in maintaining or enhancing populations, communities, and ecosystems. Much could be gained by more closely integrating the disciplines, but several challenges stand in the way. Goals differ, reflecting different origins and agendas. Because resources are insufficient to meet all needs, priorities must be established. Rapid environmental changes create uncertainties that compromise goals and priorities. To realize the benefits of integration, goals should be complementary, acknowledging the uncertainties that stem from temporal and spatial dynamics. Priorities should be established using clearly defined criteria, recognizing that not everything can be conserved or restored; some form of triage is inevitable. Because goals and priorities are societal concerns, conservation and restoration must include people as part of—rather than separate from—nature. A more meaningful and integrated approach will blur disciplinary boundaries, focus on outcomes rather than approaches, and use the tools of both disciplines.” Ref: Wiens JA and RJ Hobbs (2015) Integrating Conservation and Restoration in a Changing World. Bioscience 65 (3):302-312. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biu235

Brisbane: Advice to PhD applicants: choosing and being chosen for PhD research

“Over the past three months Liz Law, Luke Shoo, and myself have been considering applications for two recently advertised PhD projects in our lab. Although we will be recruiting over the coming year, the UQ graduate school has four discrete rounds and the second round closes in May. We’ve had a fantastic amount of interest in our positions, and a handful of prospective candidates are currently finalising their proposals for the UQ Graduate School. In the process of reading all of the applications that we received we noted a few things and thought we might share some of our insights. The following aims to capture both tips for thinking about undertaking PhD research and tips for enhancing your competitiveness for PhD programs. We hope you find it useful.” http://wilsonconservationecology.com/2015/05/15/advice-to-phd-applicants/

[Editor’s note: for more careers advice, see ‘accounting for career breaks’ in general news]

Melbourne: Stefano Canessa on trade-offs in destructive sampling designs for occupancy surveys “Occupancy surveys are used to determine the presence of species. In general, we want them to be as effective as possible, with a minimum risk of missing species when they are present. Sometimes we may be more likely to find species if we look in especially good microhabitats. However, the search process may require us to damage or destroy such microhabitats: for example, raking beds of leaf litter when searching for fossorial lizards, prizing open or lifting decaying woody cover when sampling salamanders, or drag-netting beds of aquatic vegetation for fish or amphibian larvae. When we do our surveys, should we search more microhabitat patches, or concentrate on the most suitable ones? Both can have detrimental effects, yet they may be the most effective ways to achieve reliable surveys. In this paper, we use a logistic regression model and an optimisation spreadsheet to work out a simple solution to this trade-off, evaluating survey strategies that achieve detection targets whilst minimizing impacts. We demonstrate its application to surveys for the Millewa skink Hemiergis millewae in north-western Victoria, a species so difficult to spot that it can only be detected by dismantling the spinifex hummocks in which it lives.” Ref: Canessa, S., Heard, G.W., Robertson, P. and Sluiter, I.R.K. (2015). Dealing with trade-offs in destructive sampling designs for occupancy surveys. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0120340.

Canberra: Alessio Mortelliti & David Lindenmayer on effects of landscape transformation on bird colonization and extinction patterns “Humans are fragmenting natural habitats into relatively pristine patches surrounded by a larger altered landscape patchwork, or matrix. The nature of this matrix can influence which species in the remaining intact habitat will persist. Mortelliti and Lindenmayer report on a large, long-term experiment that measured the impact of landscape change on 64 species of birds found within fragmented native Eucalyptus woodlands in Australia. They found that though overall species richness did not change, emerging pine plantations altered communities, favouring smaller birds that move easily through dense vegetation but reducing the presence of larger species. These results suggest that matrix vegetation types can shape selection in such a way that species and communities within native landscape patches are permanently changed.” Description of Mortelliti and Lindenmayer 2015 in Science (Science 15 MAY 2015 • VOL 348 ISSUE 6236) Ref: Mortelliti A., Lindenmayer D.B. 2015. Effects of landscape transformation on bird colonization and extinction patterns in a large-scale, long-term natural experiment. Conservation Biology (in press). http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12523


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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