Dbytes #319 (15 February 2018)

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

“Much of humanity acts as a passive victim of the institutions it created in the past. We’ve locked ourselves into certain trajectories – starting with our mindsets, which are too uncomfortable to question, and our institutions, which are rigid and complex, and it’s hard to know where to even start to fundamentally change anything.”
Joern Fischer
https://ideas4sustainability.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/what-do-we-value/

General News

1. 12 Emerging Global Trends That Bring Hope for 2018 [from the TNC]
2. Climate firing line: Australia’s natural attractions at risk
3. Planting the seeds of citizen science
4. Echidna citizen science
5. ‘Absolute scandal’: how does restoring a ship help endangered species?

EDG News

UWA Node: To Bait or Not to Bait: A Discrete Choice Experiment on Public Preferences for Native Wildlife and Conservation Management in Western Australia
UMelb Node: Mick McCarthy on the Batman By-Election 2018
UQ Node:
Chris OBryan on predators and humans
RMIT Node: Anna Backstrom and colleagues on Grappling with the social dimensions of novel ecosystems
ANU Node: Damian Michael and colleagues on revegetation, restoration and reptiles in rural landscapes: Insights from long-term monitoring programmes

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General News

1. 12 Emerging Global Trends That Bring Hope for 2018 [from the TNC]

Without minimizing the task ahead, we want to point to some trends that are unlocking investment for nature and offering hope for a sustainable future.

https://global.nature.org/content/2018-emerging-trends?intc=glob_sol.hp.single_promo

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2. Climate firing line: Australia’s natural attractions at risk

AUSTRALIA’S MOST POPULAR tourist destinations are in the firing line, with intensifying climate change posing a significant threat to the nation’s iconic natural wonders, according to the latest report released by the Climate Council today.

The Climate Council’s ‘Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism’ report shows Australia’s top five natural tourist attractions could be hit by extreme heatwaves, increasing temperatures, rising sea-levels, coastal flooding and catastrophic coral bleaching.

http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/climate-firing-line-australia-s-natural-attractions-at-risk

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3. Planting the seeds of citizen science
[Speech by the Chief Science, Dr Alan Finkel to the 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference in Adelaide on 7 February 2018]

“Let me start with an impossible to answer question. Who invented citizen science?
The birdwatchers say that it began with the Audubon Society and the great Christmas Bird Count, in 1900. The weather-watchers say that it began with Thomas Jefferson – yes, US President Thomas Jefferson…”

http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2018/02/speech-planting-the-seeds-of-citizen-science/

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4. Echidna citizen science
Echidnas are notoriously shy and difficult to see in the wild and even though they are one of our iconic Australian animals, we know very little about them. The team behind Echidna CSI want to change that. Professor Frank Grützner’s research group at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide aims to identify echidna populations on mainland Australia and determine if, and why, they are under threat before taking steps to help their conservation. Up to now, a study on mainland echidna populations was considered unfeasible due to the time and resources required to gather any meaningful field data over such a large area. Especially because echidnas are so cryptic – if you go out specifically to look for one, you’re guaranteed not to see any. This is where the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) can help. Using the ALA’s BioCollect as the back-end database and data management interface, University of Adelaide PhD student Alan Stenhouse developed a mobile app – Echidna CSI – for the Grützner research team. Using BioCollect saved the project team time and costs, and allows data to flow seamlessly into the ALA where it is stored, analysed and re-used. BioCollect helps the team to recruit members of the public (citizen scientists) to record echidna sightings and mail echidna scat samples to the research team, by making the project publically discoverable via the Australian citizen science project finder. This means large amounts of data can be collected across a huge area.
https://blog.csiro.au/tracking-elusive-echidna-populations/?utm_source=Snapshot-January-2018&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=Snapshot

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5. ‘Absolute scandal’: how does restoring a ship help endangered species?
The Guardian: The government is providing $255m to projects it says will benefit threatened animals and plants – yet there is little chance the species actually occur at many of the sites
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/14/incongruous-species-funding-in-the-most-unlikely-places?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Tweet

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EDG News

UWA Node: To Bait or Not to Bait: A Discrete Choice Experiment on Public Preferences for Native Wildlife and Conservation Management in Western Australia

This paper examines citizen’s preferences for invasive feral predator (fox and feral cat) management to protect native species at a fragmented conservation site surrounded by farmland in southwest WA—Dryandra Woodland. Foxes and feral cats are a serious threat to biodiversity around the world including Australia. We used the discrete choice experiment technique to quantify the preferences of the general public of WA for various fox and feral cat management strategies and also their utility for the threatened species (Numbats and Woylies) being protected at the site. We find that citizens prefer using a multi-strategy approach, especially one that includes trapping and community engagement, over the strategy of 1080 baiting currently being implement at Dryandra Woodland to manage fox and feral cat populations. Citizens also strongly favour increased Numbat and Woylie populations at the site with willingness to pay (WTP) being $21.76 for 100 Numbats and $7.95 for 1000 Woylies, on average. We also tested whether including images of the threatened species in the survey influences WTP for their conservation and found that it did not. We discuss how species’ charisma and familiarity with a species instead influences people’s WTP. Our project is being carried out in collaboration with the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and will provide vital and much needed information on socio-economically optimal conservation decision-making. The article can be freely accessed using the following link till 25th March 2018: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800917311825
Ref: SUBROY, V., ROGERS, A. A. & KRAGT, M. E. 2018. To Bait or Not to Bait: A Discrete Choice Experiment on Public Preferences for Native Wildlife and Conservation Management in Western Australia. Ecological Economics, 147, 114-122.

UMelb Node: Mick McCarthy on the Batman By-Election 2018
“It’s on in Batman. And the result might well depend on what happens north of the Hipster-proof Fence, a term coined (by my wife) to help describe the voting patterns that flipped in the vicinity of Bell St. With David Feeney resigning from Federal Parliament due to unresolved issues regarding his citizenship, a by-election for the federal seat of Batman will be held. Batman was an interesting race in 2016, with the ALP narrowly beating the Greens. But with the Greens winning a recent state by-election in Northcote, which covers the southern half of the Batman electorate (south of the Hipster-proof Fence), the 2018 by-election promises to be even more interesting. One feature of the 2016 federal election was the north-south gradient in votes, both in terms of the 2 candidate-preferred vote, and the swing from the 2013 election. In both cases, the ALP did much better north of the Hipster-proof Fence. Indeed, the ALP had swings toward it in some of the northern-most booths. If the ALP had suffered the same swings north of Bell St as they did further south, the Greens would have won comfortably in 2016…”
https://mickresearch.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/batman-by-election-2018/

UQ Node: Chris OBryan on predators and humans
Predators and scavengers are frequently persecuted for their negative effects on property, livestock and human life. Research has shown that these species play important regulatory roles in intact ecosystems including regulating herbivore and mesopredator populations that in turn affect floral, soil and hydrological systems. Yet predators and scavengers receive surprisingly little recognition for their benefits to humans in the landscapes they share. We review these benefits, highlighting the most recent studies that have documented their positive effects across a range of environments. Indeed, the benefits of predators and scavengers can be far reaching, affecting human health and well-being through disease mitigation, agricultural production and waste-disposal services. As many predators and scavengers are in a state of rapid decline, we argue that researchers must work in concert with the media, managers and policymakers to highlight benefits of these species and the need to ensure their long-term conservation. Furthermore, instead of assessing the costs of predators and scavengers only in economic terms, it is critical to recognize their beneficial contributions to human health and well-being. Given the ever-expanding human footprint, it is essential that we construct conservation solutions that allow a wide variety of species to persist in shared landscapes. Identifying, evaluating and communicating the benefits provided by species that are often considered problem animals is an important step for establishing tolerance in these shared spaces.
Ref: Christopher J. O’Bryan, Alexander R. Braczkowski, Hawthorne L. Beyer, Neil H. Carter, James E. M. Watson & Eve McDonald-Madden (2018). The contribution of predators and scavengers to human well-being. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2, pages 229–236. https://tinyurl.com/y9h3onxr
Video interview about the paper is here:https://vimeo.com/251588350/4d1e9ac23b

RMIT Node: Anna Backstrom and colleagues on
Grappling with the social dimensions of novel ecosystems
The novel ecosystem concept describes modified natural systems that have crossed irreversible socioecological thresholds due to human-induced environmental change. Critics of this concept fear it will nullify efforts to conserve biodiversity, and consider it unnecessary because ecological restoration provides management options for modified ecosystems; in contrast, proponents contend that it broadens the possibilities for conservation (eg by valuing degraded ecosystems). Because all approaches to conservation, including those that involve novel ecosystems, are values-based, decisions pertaining to the management of modified ecosystems are embedded in a social context. To help inform the management of novel ecosystems, we propose a values-based decision process, one that accounts for site-specific variation.
Ref: Backstrom, Garrard, Hobbs and Bekessy (2018). Grappling with the social dimensions of novel ecosystems. Front Ecol Environ 2018;
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1769/full

ANU Node: Damian Michael and colleagues on revegetation, restoration and reptiles in rural landscapes: Insights from long-term monitoring programmes
Over the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to better understand the distribution and abundance of reptiles in agricultural landscapes and to specifically evaluate their response to revegetation (tree and shrub plantings) and habitat restoration in the wheat-sheep belt of south-eastern Australia. This article reviews the response of reptiles to revegetation and woodland management and provides ten insights and lessons that can be applied to help improve reptile conservation in temperate eucalypt woodlands and fragmented agricultural landscapes in Australia. The review focuses primarily on revegetation programmes conducted by Landcare and Greening Australia, and management interventions funded by Local Land Services in NSW and Catchment Management Authorities in Victoria.
Ref: Michael, D. R., Crane, M., Florance, D. and Lindenmayer, D. B. (2018), Revegetation, restoration and reptiles in rural landscapes: Insights from long-term monitoring programmes in the temperate eucalypt woodlands of south-eastern Australia. Ecol Manag Restor, 19: 32–38. doi:10.1111/emr.12294
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/emr.12294/abstract?campaign=woletoc

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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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