Dbytes #273 (19 January 2017)

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” Voltaire

[Editor’s note: Welcome to our first issue of Dbytes for 2017. Our opening quote for this year appears in the front of the new book The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis (my Xmas reading); highly recommended for anyone interested in the psychology of decision making.]

Editor’s note 2: My last post on this blog was back in August 2015. I continued with Dbytes but only as an email. Now I’m wanting to renew this archive but have forgotten how it works. Fingers crossed.

General News
1. 2016 a year of extreme weather events
2. WMO: Use of climate predictions to manage risks
3. Call for Nominations: Threatened species, ecological communities or key threatening processes
4. Tipping the scales on Christmas Island – controlling crazy ants
5. Busting myths about women in STEM

EDG News
UQ node:
Viv Tulloch publishes thrice on Marxan with Probability
UMelb Node:
The Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer scores $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to improve environmental management of farmlands
RMIT Node: Presentations from 2016 National Private Land Conservation Conference now available
UWA Node: Jelena May and colleagues evaluate environmental offsets in WA

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General News

1. 2016 a year of extreme weather events It was a year of extreme weather events, wetter than average overall, and the fourth-warmest on record for Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Climate Statement 2016 released today. http://media.bom.gov.au/releases/333/2016-a-year-of-extreme-weather-events/

“We are now experiencing the beginnings of what a future with worsening climate change looks like: intense heatwaves, severe bushfires and destructive storms, along with devastating damage to the economy, infrastructure, livelihoods and ecosystems as a result.” Tim Flannery, and The Climate Council’s comment on the BoM report. http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/2016-named-australia-s-fourth-warmest-year-on-record

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2. WMO: Use of climate predictions to manage risks A new publication, Use of climate predictions to manage risks, explores the range of currently available and potential climate prediction products and services. It is intended for all audiences from policymakers to practitioners and users. https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/use-of-climate-predictions-manage-risks

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3. Call for Nominations: Threatened species, ecological communities or key threatening processes Nominations are invited for species, ecological communities or key threatening processes to be considered for listing under national environment law during the assessment period starting 1 October 2017. Threatened species and ecological communities listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are protected as matters of national environmental significance. The theme for the assessment period is “freshwater species and ecological communities”. Nominations outside of the theme will still be considered.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 March 2017. Nomination forms, details of the nomination process and guidelines are available at Nominating a species, ecological community or key threatening process under the EPBC Act. http://www.environment.gov.au/news/2017/01/13/call-nominations-threatened-species-ecological-communities-or-key-threatening

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4. Tipping the scales on Christmas Island – controlling crazy ants “A couple of days ago I published an article with Peter Green about the imminent release of a tiny wasp that will be used for biological control of a bug that feeds the crazy ants that kill red crabs on Christmas Island.” https://theconversation.com/tipping-the-scales-on-christmas-island-wasps-and-bugs-use-other-species-so-why-cant-we-69891 -~<>~- 5. Busting myths about women in STEM The Office of the Chief Scientist has released an occasional paper Busting myths about women in STEM, which addresses four common myths about women in STEM and provides the evidence to counter the myths. It is accompanied by an illustrated datasheet, Women in STEM: A story of attrition. The datasheet shows how Australia’s gender STEM imbalance persists from the classroom through to the workplace.

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EDG News

UQ node: Viv Tulloch publishes thrice on Marxan with Probability Viv: “I have three new publications which apply Marxan with Probability to a variety of conservation problems which might be of interest.: 1. Tulloch et al. (2016) [coral reefs and oil palm in PNG] describes a new marine spatial prioritisation framework using MarProb (Threat Probability), targeting good condition coral reefs given the probability of degradation from terrestrial runoff due to oil palm development in Papua New Guinea. You can find the full article with supplementary online here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716303160 .
2. Tulloch et al. (2017) [reserve planning for coral reefs] uses MarProb (Habitat Distribution Probability) to evaluate trade-offs between accuracy and resolution of coral reef habitat data derived from remote sensing. We use accuracy information describing the probability that a mapped habitat classification is correct to design marine reserve networks in Fiji. The full article is available here for free for the next couple of months: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1UA-f14Z6tPSfm
3. Powers et al. (2016) [conservation assessment of Canada’s boreal forest] incorporates future vegetation variability with MarProb (Threat Probability) for a boreal-wide conservation assessment in Canada. You can find the full article online here (open access): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rse2.34/abstract

UMelb Node: The Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project From Luke Kelly: “Now that we’ve assembled our exciting team – including new recruits Dr Kate Giljohann (Research Fellow), Fred Rainsford (PhD student) and Kate Senior (PhD student) – it’s a perfect time to introduce the project. The Team: Luke Kelly (UoM), Andrew Bennett (La Trobe/ARI), Andrew Blackett (DELWP), Michael Clarke (La Trobe), Kate Giljohann (UoM/La Trobe), Michael McCarthy (UoM), Fred Rainsford (La Trobe), Kate Senior (UoM). What are we going to do? The Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project is a collaboration between The University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. It’s funded by the ARC Linkage Projects scheme. The primary aim of this project is to develop a suite of spatially explicit models and tools that will enhance our capacity to design fire management strategies for biodiversity in real-world landscapes. This project will use two ecosystems from south-eastern Australia as case studies: ‘mallee’ woodlands and shrublands and ‘foothill’ forests. These extensive eucalypt-dominated ecosystems make up ≈104 000 km2 and ≈75 000 km2 of south-eastern Australia, respectively. Fire is a major driver of the structure and function of mallee and foothills ecosystems and the strong history of fire research in each region provides a wealth of data on the plants, birds, reptiles and mammals. https://ltkellyresearch.com/2016/12/14/the-spatial-solutions-fire-ecology-project/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer scores $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to improve environmental management of farmlands The Australian National University (ANU) has received a $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to find ways to improve environmental management of farmlands. Leading ecologist at ANU Professor David Lindenmayer AO, from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, was instrumental in ANU winning the Environment and Conservation grant from The Ian Potter Foundation, which funds research into excellence and innovation. The funds will contribute to a $13.5 million five-year project headed by Professor Lindenmayer that aims to improve environmental, economic and social outcomes in rural Australia by helping farmers better manage their farms as natural assets. “It’s an exciting and critically important opportunity to improve the lives and finances of farmers and at the same time make a huge contribution to the conservation of wildlife on farms,” he said. http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/2m-grant-for-anu-to-transform-farm-conservation

RMIT Node: Presentations from 2016 National Private Land Conservation Conference now available The conference provided the forum to hear about the latest innovations, opportunities and successes in private land conservation from conservation leaders, practitioners and supporters. Several RMIT scholars gave presentations and you can download their presentations. Matthew Selinske spoke on “Understanding the motivations, the satisfaction, and retention of landowners in private land conservation”, Alex Kusmanoff on “The importance of strategically framed conservation messages”, and Mat Hardy on “Exploring the use of revolving funds to protect nature on private land”. http://www.alca.org.au/getting-involved/national-private-land-conservation-conference/

UWA Node: Jelena May and colleagues evaluate environmental offsets in WA “We examined the effectiveness of 208 offsets applied in Western Australia. At most 39% of offsets were effective and 30% were not or inadequately implemented. Better implementation and on-ground management of offsets is required. Improvements include timely reporting, compliance and measuring ecological outcomes.” Ref: Jelena May, Richard J. Hobbs, Leonie E. Valentine, Are offsets effective? An evaluation of recent environmental offsets in Western Australia, Biological Conservation, Available online 16 December 2016, ISSN 0006-3207, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716309363

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


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