Dbytes #312 (23 November 2017)

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

General News

1. Australia is a global top-ten deforester – and Queensland is leading the way
2. 100 articles every ecologist should read
3. Future Earth and Future Earth Australia (and its business plan)
4. Call for submissions of case studies on action underway on the environment and energy Sustainable Development Goals
5. Effective Public Participation is Fundamental for Marine Conservation—Lessons from a Large-Scale MPA

EDG News

RMIT Node: Ascelin Gordon and Fiona Fidler run workshop on Transparency, reproducibility and open science
ANU Node:
Claire Foster and colleagues on effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic
UMelb Node:
Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann run Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology scenario planning workshop
UQ node: Matthew McKinney and Salit Kark on factors shaping avian alien species richness in Australia vs Europe

-~<>~-

General News

1. Australia is a global top-ten deforester – and Queensland is leading the way

When you think of devastating deforestation and extinction you usually think of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo. But eastern Australia ranks alongside these in the top 10 of the world’s major deforestation fronts – the only one in a developed nation. Most of the clearing is happening in Queensland, and it is accelerating.

Only last year a group of leading ecologists voiced their alarm at new data which showed the clearing of 296,000 hectares of forest in 2013-14. This was three times higher than in 2008-09, kicking Australia up the list as one of the world’s forest-clearing pariahs. At the 2016 Society for Conservation Biology Conference, a Scientists’ Declaration was signed by hundreds of scientists, expressing concern at these clearing rates.

https://theconversation.com/australia-is-a-global-top-ten-deforester-and-queensland-is-leading-the-way-87259

-~<>~-

2. 100 articles every ecologist should read

“Our objective was to propose a list of seminal papers deemed to be of major importance in ecology, thus providing a general ‘must-read’ list for any new ecologist, regardless of particular topic or expertise.”
Ref: Courchamp F & CJA Bradshaw (2017). 100 articles every ecologist should read. Nature Ecology & Evolution doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0370-9.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0370-9

[BTW: Number 1-3 on the list are: 1. Darwin, C. R. & Wallace, A. R. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Zool. J. Linn. Soc.3, 45–62 (1858) & 2. Hardin, G. The competitive exclusion principle. Science131, 1292–1297 (1960) and 3. Paine, R. T. Food web complexity and species diversity. Am. Nat 100, 65–75 (1966).

-~<>~-

3. Future Earth and Future Earth Australia (and its business plan)

Future Earth is an international research and development collaboration focused on long-term sustainability solutions for the planet and human societies, supported by a range of leading global institutions. It is a global research framework that brings the world’s researchers together with leading thinkers in business, public administration, the humanities and social sciences and the community to build the cooperation, trust and tools to create long-term solutions to global challenges in which economic, social and environmental values can coexist and thrive. It was initiated five years ago by the International Council for Science (ICSU), and draws together thousands of researchers across hundreds of individual and collaborative research programs. Future Earth builds on more than three decades of global environmental change research programmes and carries forward the legacy of DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP).

Future Earth Australia is a national peak initiative that enables Australian scientists, governments, industry and NGOs to collaborate both with each other and with international networks and programs.

Yesterday, Future Earth Australia launched its sustainability business plan. The plan identifies opportunities for collaboration. The urban built environment, the marine environment and energy transformation are key areas where Australian researchers and industry partners could collaborate more effectively to address issues of sustainability, according to Future Earth Australia. The plan rallies for stronger research partnerships to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/future-earth-australia-launches-sustainability-business-plan
-~<>~-

4. Call for submissions of case studies on action underway on the environment and energy Sustainable Development Goals

The Department of the Environment and Energy is seeking case studies of up to 500 words that showcase work that gives effect to the environment and energy Goals and their Targets. Suitable case studies will be included in an online compendium of case studies that will enable stakeholders across Australia to showcase their contribution to the environment and energy Goals. The compendium will be produced annually and hosted on this webpage. Case studies may also be considered for reference in Australia’s Voluntary National Review.
Submissions of case studies for the 2017 compendium will close on 31 December 2017.

http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/international/2030-agenda/call-for-submissions

-~<>~-

5. Effective Public Participation is Fundamental for Marine Conservation—Lessons from a Large-Scale MPA

This paper by Jon Day outlines the importance of effective public participation to achieve effective marine conservation. The paper cites examples of the lessons learned during the Representative Areas Program (RAP). The RAP was a key component of the widely acclaimed rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and was, at the time, the most comprehensive process of community involvement and participatory planning for any environmental issue in Australia.

http://conservationplanning.org/2017/11/new-paper-effective-public-participation-is-fundamental-for-marine-conservation-lessons-from-a-large-scale-mpa/

-~<>~-

EDG News

RMIT Node: Ascelin Gordon and Fiona Fidler run workshop on Transparency, reproducibility and open science
The workshop was part of the 10th Annual Conference of the Society for Risk Analysis Australia and New Zealand (SRA-ANZ).
Reproducibility has been a hot topic over the last few years, as high profile meta-research projects have uncovered low rates of reproducible results across a number of scientific disciplines. This workshop will provide some background to the ‘reproducibility crisis’, explaining how common but questionable research practices have contributed to the problem. The workshop also covered current initiatives to address the problem, including Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines and pre-registration, and the role of research ethics and scientific integrity in relation to transparency and reproducibility, and practical tips for improving the transparency and reproducibility of scientific workflows, data preservation and data sharing, including the Open Science Framework.
http://www.sraanzconference.org.nz/open-science.html

ANU Node: Claire Foster and colleagues on effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic
Management guidelines for many fire-prone ecosystems highlight the importance of maintaining a variable mosaic of fire histories for biodiversity conservation. Managers are encouraged to aim for fire mosaics that are temporally and spatially dynamic, include all successional states of vegetation, and also include variation in the underlying “invisible mosaic” of past fire frequencies, severities, and fire return intervals. However, establishing and maintaining variable mosaics in contemporary landscapes is subject to many challenges, one of which is deciding how the fire mosaic should be managed following the occurrence of large, unplanned wildfires. A key consideration for this decision is the extent to which the effects of previous fire history on vegetation and habitats persist after major wildfires, but this topic has rarely been investigated empirically. In this study, we tested to what extent a large wildfire interacted with previous fire history to affect the structure of forest, woodland, and heath vegetation in Booderee National Park in southeastern Australia. In 2003, a summer wildfire burned 49.5% of the park, increasing the extent of recently burned vegetation (<10 yr post-fire) to more than 72% of the park area. We tracked the recovery of vegetation structure for nine years following the wildfire and found that the strength and persistence of fire effects differed substantially between vegetation types. Vegetation structure was modified by wildfire in forest, woodland, and heath vegetation, but among-site variability in vegetation structure was reduced only by severe fire in woodland vegetation. There also were persistent legacy effects of the previous fire regime on some attributes of vegetation structure including forest ground and understorey cover, and woodland midstorey and overstorey cover. For example, woodland midstorey cover was greater on sites with higher fire frequency, irrespective of the severity of the 2003 wildfire. Our results show that even after a large, severe wildfire, underlying fire histories can contribute substantially to variation in vegetation structure. This highlights the importance of ensuring that efforts to reinstate variation in vegetation fire age after large wildfires do not inadvertently reduce variation in vegetation structure generated by the underlying invisible mosaic.
Ref: Foster, C. Barton, P., MacGregor, C., Robinson, N., and Lindenmayer, D.B. Effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic. Ecological Applications, doi:10.1002/eap.1614.

UMelb Node: Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann run Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology scenario planning workshop
Scenario planning is a powerful way to evaluate conservation options when contending with uncontrollable, irreducible uncertainty. Co-designing scenarios with key stakeholders is useful because it can help clarify values, improve the quality of scenarios and enhance the uptake of research.
On 21st November 2017, Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann led a participatory scenario workshop with a group of 30 agency staff and researchers from across southern Australia. The workshop was part of the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project and participating agencies included the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Vic.), Parks Victoria, N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service and S.A. Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources. The group identified a range of environmental and social values – and the management alternatives that would help achieve these objectives in fire-prone landscapes. The potential performance of the alternatives was then explored for a range of uncertainties and possible futures relating to climate change, extreme weather, people and policy.
The next stage of the Spatial Solutions project will be to use a ‘storyline and simulation’ approach to estimate the consequences of alternative management options against the backdrop of critical uncertainties identified in the workshop. If you’re interested in discussing ideas, tools and methods relating to scenario analysis and fire modelling get in touch with Luke (ltkelly@unimelb.edu.au) and Kate (kmgi@unimelb.edu.au).

UQ node: Matthew McKinney and Salit Kark on factors shaping avian alien species richness in Australia vs Europe
We aim to examine the relative importance of human activity-related and natural variables in shaping spatial patterns of alien bird species richness at the continental scale for Australia. We examine the drivers shaping establishment of alien birds in Australia in the framework of the human activity hypothesis and the biotic acceptance hypothesis (the “rich get richer” model of biotic invasion), and directly compare our results to Europe.
We use compiled atlas data on alien bird richness in continental Australia and Tasmania together and separately, records of known alien bird introduction events compiled from various sources and a suite of biogeographic variables to evaluate drivers of alien bird richness at a 50-km resolution in Australia. We use hierarchical portioning and spatial generalized linear models to quantify the relative contribution of each environmental variable to alien bird richness. We then compare our results directly to those from a previous continental-scale study in Europe and in the UK.
We identify 24 established alien bird species across Australia (including nearshore islands and Tasmania) and present a detailed map of alien bird richness in Australia. We discover that in Australia, native bird species richness and land cover heterogeneity are the strongest predictors of alien bird richness at a 50-km resolution, supporting the “rich get richer” model of species invasion.
Our results are contrary to Europe, where the human activity hypothesis was best supported. By performing a cross-continental comparison of drivers of alien bird richness, we show that processes shaping alien establishment and spread can vary across continents with variable human impact history and should be examined on a case-by-case basis before endorsing general hypotheses.
Ref: McKinney M, Kark S. Factors shaping avian alien species richness in Australia vs Europe. Divers Distrib. 2017;23:1334–1342. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12625


-~<>~-

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/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s