Dbytes #199 (9 June 2015)

 Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group “In a world of remorseless (and often accelerating) biodiversity decline, one bright star that seems to shine brighter all the time in the conservation firmament is the movement called ‘citizen science’.”
Decision Point #89 (Just out, view it at http://decision-point.com.au/)

General News

1. Heat map informs policy and management

2. Consultation on case studies for aggregation under the Emissions Reduction Fund

3. Release of discussion paper on managing established pests and diseases of national significance

4. Behaviourally Effective Communications for Invasive Animals Management

5. Understanding protected area resilience

EDG News

General News: Society for Conservation Biology 4th Oceania Congress – July 2016 – call for symposia now open
Laurence Berry and colleagues on fire refuges in wet forest ecosystems
Perth: David Pannell and colleagues react to the budget’s environmental and energy measures
Jasmine Lee and colleagues examine the vulnerability of threatened species to climate change
Geoff Heard on dealing with trade-offs in destructive sampling designs for occupancy surveys


General News

1. Heat map informs policy and management “Earlier this month, the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), released a heat map highlighting climate change-resilient areas for vertebrates across Queensland as a part of its Landscape Resilience program.

The heat map was based on research data provided by James Cook University (JCU) researchers at the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change. Within weeks of receiving the data, this prioritisation was, and still is, informing additions to Queensland’s protected area network, enhancing the resilience of Queensland’s unique wildlife for the future. This is a terrific example of how research can genuinely benefit the public through its influence on policy. We thought it would be useful to reveal how this came about from the perspectives of the JCU researchers, the EHP staff and the eResearch staff facilitating the knowledge transfer, and highlight some lessons learnt that could help such endeavours be repeated.” Excerpt from an article in The Conversation on how Science can influence policy and benefit the public – here’s how. The research that was the basis of this success story about research influencing policy was supported through Australian Government funded programs including the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF).


2. Consultation on case studies for aggregation under the Emissions Reduction Fund Aggregation is the process of bringing multiple sources of emissions reductions together. The Department has produced a draft fact sheet, a guidance document and some case studies to inform potential aggregators and participants of the responsibilities inherent in aggregated arrangements. The Department is seeking feedback from interested parties to inform the final versions of these documents. Submissions close on 19 June 2015.



3. Release of discussion paper on managing established pests and diseases of national significance The Department of Agriculture, on behalf of the National Biosecurity Committee, is inviting comments on a paper which discusses new ideas to manage established weeds, pests and diseases that have a significant impact at a national level. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Ms Rona Mellor said the paper, Modernising Australia’s approach to managing established pests and diseases of national significance, outlines a proposed way for governments and stakeholders to more effectively work together. “The ongoing management of weeds, pests and diseases represents a substantial cost to Australian agricultural industries, landholders and the general community,” Ms Mellor said. “In 2009, production losses attributable to pest animals were estimated at more than $620 million per annum; and weeds cost Australian farmers around $1.5 billion a year in 2004 in control activities, and a further $2.5 billion a year in lost agricultural production.” http://www.agriculture.gov.au/about/media-centre/dept-releases/2015/release-discussion-paper-manage-pests-disease-national-significance


4. Behaviourally Effective Communications for Invasive Animals Management

The publication, Behaviourally Effective Communications for Invasive Animals Management: A Practical Guide, aims to make life easier for communication practitioners by explaining in plain English how advances in psychology can change behaviour and empower farmers and land managers to adopt new approaches for best practice pest animal control. The lead author of the guide, Professor Don Hine from the University of New England, said most traditional communications aimed to increase awareness and change attitudes. But he said a significant body of research revealed a big gap between attitude and behaviour. “Changing someone’s mind, or convincing them about an issue, doesn’t automatically translate into changing their behaviour,” Professor Hine said. “For example, think of the last time you resolved to go on a diet or exercise more. How often do your well-informed attitudes and best intentions fail to result in sustained behaviour change?”


5. Understanding protected area resilience

Protected areas (PAs) remain central to the conservation of biodiversity. Classical PAs were conceived as areas that would be set aside to maintain a natural state with minimal human influence. However, global environmental change and growing cross-scale anthropogenic influences mean that PAs can no longer be thought of as ecological islands that function independently of the broader social-ecological system in which they are located. For PAs to be resilient (and to contribute to broader social-ecological resilience), they must be able to adapt to changing social and ecological conditions over time in a way that supports the long-term persistence of populations, communities, and ecosystems of conservation concern. We extend Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework to consider the long-term persistence of PAs, as a form of land use embedded in social-ecological systems, with important cross-scale feedbacks. Most notably, we highlight the cross-scale influences and feedbacks on PAs that exist from the local to the global scale, contextualizing PAs within multi-scale social-ecological functional landscapes. Such functional landscapes are integral to understand and manage individual PAs for long-term sustainability. We illustrate our conceptual contribution with three case studies that highlight cross-scale feedbacks and social-ecological interactions in the functioning of PAs and in relation to regional resilience. Our analysis suggests that while ecological, economic, and social processes are often directly relevant to PAs at finer scales, at broader scales, the dominant processes that shape and alter PA resilience are primarily social and economic. Ref: Graeme S. Cumming, Craig R. Allen, Natalie C. Ban, Duan Biggs, Harry C. Biggs, David H. M. Cumming, Alta De Vos, Graham Epstein, Michel Etienne, Kristine Maciejewski, Raphaël Mathevet, Christine Moore, Mateja Nenadovic, and Michael Schoon 2015. Understanding protected area resilience: a multi-scale, social-ecological approach. Ecological Applications 25:299–319. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-2113.1

Read More: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/10.1890/13-2113.1



EDG News

General News: Society for Conservation Biology 4th Oceania Congress – July 2016 – call for symposia now open The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Oceania section is proud to team up with the University of Queensland Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (CBCS – HQ for EDG) to host the 4th Oceania Congress for Conservation Biology (OCCB) to be held on July 6-8, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. The meeting will bring together the community of conservation professionals to address conservation challenges and present new findings, initiatives, methods, tools and opportunities in conservation science and practice. Scientists, students, managers, decision-makers, writers, and other conservation professionals are invited to participate in this event. http://brisbane2016.scboceania.org/

Canberra: Laurence Berry and colleagues on fire refuges in wet forest ecosystems “We used a case study in an Australian wet montane forest to establish how predictive fire simulation models can be interpreted as management tools to identify potential fire refuges. We examined the relationship between the probability of fire refuge occurrence as predicted by an existing fire refuge model and fire severity experienced during a large wildfire. We also examined the extent to which local fire severity was influenced by fire severity in the surrounding landscape. We used a combination of statistical approaches including generalised linear modelling, variogram analysis and receiver operating characteristics and area under the curve analysis (ROC AUC). We found that the amount of unburnt habitat and the factors influencing the retention and location of fire refuges varied with fire conditions. Under extreme fire conditions, the distribution of fire refuges was limited to only extremely sheltered, fire-resistant regions of the landscape. During extreme fire conditions, fire severity patterns were largely determined by stochastic factors that could not be predicted by the model. When fire conditions were moderate, physical landscape properties appeared to mediate fire severity distribution. Our study demonstrates that land managers can employ predictive landscape fire models to identify the broader climatic and spatial domain within which fire refuges are likely to be present. It is essential that within these envelopes, forest is protected from logging, roads and other developments so that the ecological processes related to the establishment and subsequent use of fire refuges are maintained. Ref: Berry, L.E., Driscoll, D.A., Stein, J.A., Blanchard. W., Banks, S.C., Bradstock, R.A. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2015). Identifying the location of fire refuges in wet forest ecosystems. Ecological Applications, doi:10.1890/14-1699.1. Read More: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/14-1699.1

Perth: David Pannell and colleagues react to the budget’s environmental and energy measures In The Conversation, environmental experts David Pannell, Ian Lowe, Frank Jotzo, and Tony Wood react to the 2015 Federal Budget’s environmental and energy measures of few initiatives or significant cuts “Environmental and energy issues did not feature heavily in the Budget, although there was a A$400 million total package of assistance for drought-stricken farmers (particularly relevant in the week that the Bureau of Meteorology called an El Niño), as well as an extra A$100 million in funding for the Reef Trust, aimed at safeguarding the Great Barrier Reef.” https://theconversation.com/federal-budget-2015-environment-experts-react-41706

Brisbane: Jasmine Lee and colleagues examine the vulnerability of threatened species to climate change From Jasmine: “We found almost half of our sample species were moderately to highly climate vulnerable, with amphibians as the most vulnerable taxa and the mountain pygmy possum as the most vulnerable species. Most importantly, we decomposed our vulnerability index to determine what factors were driving climate vulnerability (eg, a reliance on moisture regimes, or low dispersal ability). We then spatially mapped these drivers to identify regions of Australia where the climate vulnerability of many species was driven by predominant factors. For example, one of the driving factors of vulnerability along the south-east coast is a reliance on a particular disturbance regime (normally fire). This can contribute to conservation by allowing us to target actions to individual driving factors in specific regions.” Ref: Lee JR, Maggini R, Taylor MFJ, Fuller RA (2015) Mapping the Drivers of Climate Change Vulnerability for Australia’s Threatened Species. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0124766. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124766. https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0124766 Also see their Conversation editorial at https://theconversation.com/meet-the-australian-wildlife-most-threatened-by-climate-change-42310

Melbourne: Geoff Heard on dealing with trade-offs in destructive sampling designs for occupancy surveys “Destructive sampling. It’s a term that makes you squirm a little isn’t it? I feel the same when I think about certain marking techniques or the need to sacrifice specimens for Museum collections. Each presents a dilemma that most ecologists will confront at some point in their careers: the need to do something that is immediately at odds with our core values in pursuit of the greater good for species conservation. In our latest paper we tackle the dilemma posed by destructive sampling using a decision-theoretic approach. To be clear, the dilemma here is that some species are very difficult to detect by any other means than pulling apart their favored microhabitats. Hence, gaining the information we need to manage these species is nigh on impossible without some impact on their habitat.” https://gwheardresearch.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/latest-paper-dealing-with-trade-offs-in-destructive-sampling-designs-for-occupancy-surveys/


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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