Dbytes #288 (18 May 2017)

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

“The criteria used to guide the installation of the nest boxe states that: To ensure success, nest-boxes must provide suitable habitat until such time that retained trees close to the alignment develop nest hollows and cavities to replace those that were lost.”
Lindenmayer et al, 2017 (See ANU Node News)

General News

1. NSW travelling stock reserves review
2. How can I share it (that journal article)
3. A 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy
4. APEEL for better environmental laws
5. World Ecoregions & Biomes map

EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program – EoIs close on 23 May 2017.
UQ Node: Maria Martinez-Harms and colleagues on the wake of devastating fires through central Chile.
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the anatomy of a failed offset
RMIT Node:
Freya Thomas on ‘are trait-growth models transferable?’
UWA node:
Richard Hobbs on what do you save when the art gallery catches fire?


General News

1. NSW travelling stock reserves review

The NSW Government is seeking the community’s input on the Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) network in NSW to ensure it remains connected, viable and well maintained. There are more than 6,500 TSRs on Crown land in NSW, covering approximately two million hectares. The NSW Government is committed to maintaining a viable, well maintained and connected TSR network for the future. The Crown Lands Management Review in 2012 found that many TSRs are no longer used for their original purpose. A new, comprehensive review of the network will examine the parcels of land required for the TSR network in the future. The aim of the TSR review is to determine which TSRs are still used or required for the original purpose they were set aside for and to determine if they are important for other reasons. This information will feed future decisions about how this land can be best reserved, managed and owned. The information will also be used to develop a comprehensive map of the TSR network in NSW — where they are, what they are now used for, who uses them and how often.
Submissions close 5 pm Thursday 22 June 2017.


2. How can I share it (that journal article)

[Recommended by Ascelin Gordon]

You can enter a paper’s DOI and it will give you info about where you can legally share different version of the of the paper (preprint, journal formatted copy etc.).

Useful site: http://www.howcanishareit.com/


3. A 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy

The Academy of Science announced an initiative to develop a 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy in Australasia.

Australasia is one of the world’s most megadiverse regions, with large numbers of endemic and evolutionarily important species, and a high rate of discovery of new species. Biosystematists and taxonomists work to discover, name and document new plant and animal species and their relationships. Every species of plant or animal that is known to humanity was named and described by a taxonomist or biosystematist.

Over the next three years, the Academy and its partners will consult extensively with the research sector and end-users of biosystematics and taxonomy information and capabilities, to identify opportunities and priorities for advancing these disciplines and their services in Australasia.



4. APEEL for better environmental laws

The Australian Panel of Experts in Environmental Law (APEEL) has released 8 technical papers discussing reform of various areas of environmental law (listed below). The papers and recommendations are available at: www.apeel.org.au
The panel seeks feedback by 2nd June if you are interested in contributing to this project. And please forward to anyone who may be interested.

The series of technical discussion papers focus on the following themes:
1. The foundations of environmental law
2. Environmental governance
3. Terrestrial natural resources management
4. Marine and coastal issues
5. Climate law
6. Energy regulation
7. The private sector, business law and environmental performance
8. Democracy and the environment
You can access an Overview Paper of the key ideas at

and the full List of Recommendations reforms.


5. World Ecoregions & Biomes map
[Recommended by Peter Ramshaw]

This new map offers a depiction of the 846 ecoregions that represent our living planet. Ecoregions are ecosystems of regional extent. These are color coded on this map to highlight their distribution and the biological diversity they represent. This new map is based on recent advances in biogeography – the science concerning the distribution of plants and animals. The original ecoregions map has been widely used since its introduction in 2001, underpinning the most recent analyses of the effects of global climate change on nature by ecologists to the distribution of the world’s beetles to modern conservation planning. In the same vein, our updated ecoregions can now be used to chart progress towards achieving the visionary goal of Nature Needs Half, to protect half of all the land on Earth to save a living terrestrial biosphere.


EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program

CEED is putting out a call for participation in our new CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program being undertaken in 2017 – 2018.
Expressions of Interest for both schemes close on 23 May 2017.

The CEED Alumni Network is designed to create and foster connectivity and opportunities for our past associates and members and is open to past members or associates of CEED either through supervision, visiting, employment or collaboration since 2011. It will also help us capture the career trajectories of CEED-lings since commencement!

The Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program aims to provide range of activities for ECRs and MCRs that foster: conservation leadership, skills development, access to international networks, entrepreneurship, accelerated career trajectories, strategies for conservation impact and individual empowerment for their careers. If you are a PhD student, then please consider signing up to be a mentee. If you are within 5 years of having completed your PhD, then you may wish to be a mentee or if you have knowledge and expertise you’d like to share then please consider becoming a mentor. Our mid and late career researchers and friends of CEED will act as mentors in the program as well.

UQ Node: Maria Martinez-Harms and colleagues on the wake of devastating fires through central Chile.
Recent large-scale wildfires have affected almost 1000 km² of native forest in Mediterranean Chile (a globally threatened biodiversity hotspot). In the aftermath of the fires, the government plans to restore the Mediterranean landscape with native forest on public land. However, almost all of the native forest affected by the fires occurs on private land. Researchers Maria Martinez-Harms, Hernan Caceres, Duan Biggs and Hugh Possingham make an urgent call to the Chilean government to facilitate the restoration of native forest on private land through government compensation to land owners. Central Chile is particularly sensitive to climate change, and the recent fires highlight the need for a robust landscape-scale institutional response to reduce the risk fire poses to people, ecosystem services, and biodiversity in Mediterranean native forest.
Ref: Martinez-Harms, M. J., H. Caceres, D. Biggs and H. P. Possingham. 2017. After Chile’s fires, reforest private land. Science 356:147-148. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aan0701.

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the anatomy of a failed offset
Biodiversity offsetting is widely applied but its effectiveness is rarely assessed. We evaluated a nest box program intended to offset clearing of hollow-bearing trees. The offset targeted 3 threatened species but low rates of nest box use were observed. The offset program did not counterbalance the loss of hollow-bearing trees. We suggest improving future offset programs with greater compliance and offset ratios.
Ref: David B. Lindenmayer, Mason Crane, Megan C. Evans, Martine Maron, Philip Gibbons, Sarah Bekessy, Wade Blanchard, The anatomy of a failed offset, Biological Conservation, Volume 210, Part A, June 2017, Pages 286-292, ISSN 0006-3207, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.04.022

RMIT Node: Freya Thomas on ‘are trait-growth models transferable?’
[Note: Freya has recently moved to RMIT from UMelb]
“I have a new paper out! Read it here:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176959
Plant functional traits are increasingly used to generalize across species, however few examples exist of predictions from trait-based models being evaluated in new species or new places. In this paper Peter Vesk and I ask, can we use functional traits to predict growth of unknown species in different areas? We used three independently collected datasets (thank you Daniel Falster and Annette Muir for contributing their data), each containing data on heights of individuals from non-resprouting plant species over a chronosquence of time-since-fire sites from three ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. We examined the influence of specific leaf area, woody density, seed size and leaf nitrogen content on three aspects of plant growth; maximum relative growth rate, age at maximum growth and asymptotic height.”

UWA node: Richard Hobbs on what do you save when the art gallery catches fire?
A new paper by Richard Hobbs (UWA) and colleagues likens conservation prioritisation to deciding what paintings to save from a burning art gallery.

Unprecedented rates of environmental change complicate priority setting for conservation, restoration, and ecosystem management. Setting priorities, or considering the value of ecosystems and the cost and likely effectiveness of management actions required, is like deciding which paintings to save first if an art gallery catches fire: a few masterpieces, such as the Mona Lisa, or a wider selection of the gallery’s collection? A portfolio approach is required that allows for a suite of goals ranging from the maintenance of existing high-value conservation assets (the Mona Lisas) to alternative management approaches in the altered parts of the landscape (the broader art collection). Management goals can be set on the basis of the relative values, services provided, and array of approaches available. Such an approach maintains aspirations to conserve relatively unaltered ecosystems as a priority but also recognizes the need to manage the overall landscape effectively.

Ref: Hobbs, RJ, Higgs, E.S. and Hall, C.M. 2017. Expanding the portfolio: conserving nature’s masterpieces in a changing world. BioScience doi:10.1093/biosci/bix043


About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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



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