Dbytes #207 (11 August 2015)

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

“The 20-year free fall in the enrolment share of the Year 12 calculus-based mathematics subjects, often referred to as intermediate or advanced, continues. This is one of the greatest challenges to the health of the STEM disciplines and professions in Australia and will bedevil plans for Australia to become a Science Nation.”
from ‘Vision for a Maths Nation’ (see item 2)

General News

1. Review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

2. Vision for a Maths Nation

3. Witham and colleagues recommend caution when valuing ecosystem services

4. Eleven iconic Australian world heritage sites under threat from climate change

5. Wildlife Management in a Changing Environment

EDG News

Melbourne: Luke Kelly scores Victorian Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
Canberra: Felicia Pereoglou and colleagues on landscape, fire and habitat
Sayed Iftekhar receives 2015 AARES Heading North Award
Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta chosen as IPBES Young Fellows


General News

1. Review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Environment Ministers have opened public consultation on the review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 . The strategy is a national framework to guide the biodiversity conservation policies and programmes of the Commonwealth, States and Territories, so that Australia’s biodiversity is healthy and resilient to threats, and valued in its own right and for its essential contribution to our existence. The Department is working with state and territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association through an inter-jurisdictional working group for the review. The review will examine emerging issues and implementation challenges, alignment with Australia’s international obligations such as those under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and opportunities to improve and streamline the Strategy. Submissions close at 5:00pm AEST on Friday 11 September 2015. More information is available here or you can contact the Department’s Biodiversity Policy Team at NBSSecretariat@environment.gov.au. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/conservation/strategy

2. Vision for a Maths Nation This policy document identifies key priorities for intervention by Australian governments and for action by peak bodies — commercial, educational, scientific and technological. It should be read in conjunction with AMSI’s annual Discipline Profile of the Mathematical Sciences. http://amsi.org.au/publications/a-vision-for-a-maths-nation/


3. Witham and colleagues recommend caution when valuing ecosystem services [Editor’s note: This paper on valuing ecosystem services was led by Charlotte Witham, an ECR based at Beijing Forestry University, who attended the first Student Conference on Conservation Science in 2013, see Decision Point #67. Charlotte has kept in contact with EDG via Dbytes and here describes her PhD work on estimating ecosystem values in protected areas in southern China.] “Many approaches for estimating the value of ecosystem services exist and a large amount of research effort has been placed on developing increasingly accurate techniques. These techniques are not, however, always appropriate under certain conditions and are not always accessible for users on the ground. The most accurate techniques are therefore not always adopted. “In this paper the authors have explored the use of various land-use land cover (LULC) maps and economic valuation approaches for assessing the ecosystem service value of a protected area in southern China. Such methods are based on locally or globally-derived data or resource-intensive or straight-forward methods of data access. The different results obtained using the different methodological approaches are discussed in the context of applied protected area management, in an area rich in biodiversity but which also supports a large population of people living below the poverty line. “This paper demonstrates that calculating ecosystem service value can differ widely depending on the methods used. This therefore, could have serious implications on management decisions for protected areas when, for example, managers wish to act on zones with most or least value. Until standardised protocols for ecosystem service valuation have been agreed upon and are readily available for use at variable scales, managers and decision-makers should be aware of the caveats associated with using different approaches.” Ref: Whitham CEL, K Shi and P Riordan (2015). Ecosystem Service Valuation Assessments for Protected Area Management: A Case Study Comparing Methods Using Different Land Cover Classification and Valuation Approaches. PLOS ONE http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0129748


4. Eleven iconic Australian world heritage sites under threat from climate change From the Climate Council http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/11-iconic-australian-world-heritage-sites-under-threat-from-climate-change


5. Wildlife Management in a Changing Environment Australasian Wildlife Management Society Conference, 226 Nov 2015, Perth [A message from Dorian Moro] “The Call for Abstracts for this years AWMS conference in Perth closes in one month! You have until August 31 to submit your abstracts for both posters and presentations. Full details on symposia and conference dates can be found on the Conference page.

Students and practitioners – you only have until August 31 to submit your applications for our awards. Full details on eligibility and application requirements can be found under Awards and Grants on our website: https://awms.memberclicks.net/conference.

We look forward to seeing you in Perth!” https://awms.memberclicks.net/conference


EDG News

Melbourne: Luke Kelly scores Victorian Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship Fellows will spend two years as a guest researcher at an overseas university or research institute gaining international experience and building international networks. Fellows then return to Victoria to work with their Victorian employer for the third year of the fellowship. Luke’s proposal reads: Integrating ecological models to secure the future of biodiversity across flammable continents. “Fire shapes ecosystems worldwide. But the frequency of fires has been modified by climate change and human population growth, and inappropriate fire regimes are a significant threat to biodiversity in Australia and the Mediterranean Basin. There is an urgent need to predict the responses of biodiversity to future fire regimes. Spain is an excellent location for the proposed collaboration because its climate and vegetation is similar to those of south-eastern Australia. Dr Brotons and his team at CREAF-CTFC are world leaders in predicting biodiversity responses to global change. Building on their cutting-edge techniques, this project will develop a suite of models and tools that will enhance our capacity to design and evaluate alternative fire management strategies in Australian and Mediterranean landscapes. It will strengthen the University of Melbourne’s environmental research program, and deliver knowledge that the Victorian Government can use to manage threatened and endangered species and ecosystems.” http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/science-and-innovation-awards-bring-top-researchers-to-victoria

Canberra: Felicia Pereoglou and colleagues on landscape, fire and habitat “Changes to natural disturbance regimes can place early successional habitat specialists at an increased risk of extinction by altering landscape patterns of habitat suitability. We developed a series of hypotheses to evaluate the effects of landscape structure, fire history, and site-level habitat quality on site occupancy by an early successional specialist, the eastern chestnut mouse (Pseudomys gracilicaudatus). We obtained eight years of monitoring data from 26 sites in recently burned heathland in southeast Australia. We used generalised linear models to determine which explanatory variables were related to occupancy. We also explored predictability in patterns of small mammal species co-occurrence. Landscape structure (patch area, landscape heterogeneity) was strongly related to site occupancy. Site occupancy was associated with dead shrubs in the understory and rock cover on ground layer, but was not directly influenced by recent or historical fire. Contrary to contemporary ecological theory, we found no predictable species associations in our early successional community. We recommend surveys take account of landscape configuration and proximity to suitable habitat for optimal results. Fire regimes expected to promote eastern chestnut mouse population growth should encourage the retention of critical habitat features rather than be based on temporal rates of successional stages. For management to adequately account for post-disturbance patterns in early successional communities, a species-by-species, multi-scaled approach to research is necessary. Ref: Pereoglou, F., MacGregor, C., Banks, S.C., Wood, J., Ford, F. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2015). Landscape, fire and habitat: which features of recently burned heathland influence site occupancy of an early successional specialist? Landscape Ecology, doi:10.1007/s10980-015-0240-2.

Perth: Sayed Iftekhar receives 2015 AARES Heading North Award Sayed Iftekhar received the 2015 Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Heading North Award to attend the AAEA conference in San Francisco at the end of July. His presentation “Iftekhar, M. S., Latacz-Lohmann, U., 2015. Impact of bidder learning on conservation auctions: An initial analysis” proposed a model of optimal bidding behaviour in repeated conservation auctions where bidders have the opportunity to learn from previous rounds and revise their bids. This research was motivated by both experimental and empirical evidence that bidder learning can pose a significant threat to the performance of conservation auctions. Based on their model, they concluded that conservation auctions, if repeated identically, do not deliver on their promise of being the more cost-effective allocation mechanism when compared with a fixed-rate scheme. Sayed and Uwe are planning economic experiments to test this conclusion.

Brisbane: Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta chosen as IPBES Young Fellows Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta from the University of Queensland have been selected as Young Fellows of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations in 2012 to provide policy advice to governments to protect the world’s precious biodiversity. To assist in this task, IPBES is enlisting the world’s best conservation scientists to participate in its assessment processes. This includes recruiting talented early career researchers to participate in a Young Fellows Programme, harnessing the finest emerging talent in the international effort to save biodiversity, and building capability for the future. Around the world there were some 700 applications to the Young Fellows Programme. Of these around 450 were nominated. But the area in which Vanessa and Sugeng nominated, Land Degradation and Restoration, it was even more competitive. From a pool of more than 130 applicants, only seven candidates were selected to participate in the assessment as co-authors. Vanessa and Sugeng were two of these seven! http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/2013-06-03-22-58-24/252-ceed-ipbs-ceed-yourfellows.html


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/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

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



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