Dbytes #324 (22 March 2018)

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

“The Department of the Environment and Energy’s design of the innovative Threatened Species Prospectus was effective, other than the lack of a fit-for-purpose performance framework.”
ANAO on the Threatened Species Prospectus [see item 1]


General News

1. The ANAO issued a performance audit: ‘Funding Models for Threatened Species Management’.
2. Government announces new
management regime for 44 Australian Marine Parks
3. The Guardian: Labor vows to block ‘largest removal of marine area from conservation, ever’
4. Marine heatwave drives massive emissions from seagrass death
5. Last chance to speak at Ecological Surprises and Rapid Collapse of Ecosystems in a Changing World

EDG News

UWA Node: Drivers of restoration recovery in São Paulo state
UMelb Node: Grappling with reproducibility in science?
UQ Node:
Jennifer McGowan and colleagues on Ocean Zoning within a Sparing versus Sharing Framework
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens launch Effective Ecological Monitoring

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General News

1. The ANAO issued a performance audit: ‘Funding Models for Threatened Species Management’.

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of the Environment and Energy’s design of the Threatened Species Prospectus.

https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/funding-models-threatened-species-management

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2. Government announces new management regime for 44 Australian Marine Parks

From the Minister for the Environment and Energy: “Following an independent scientific review and extensive consultation process, the Turnbull Government will table in the Parliament a world-leading management regime for 44 Australian Marine Parks. Home to the second largest area (3.3 million square kilometres) of marine protected area in the world, Australia with 36 per cent of its waters included in marine parks is well ahead of the international benchmark ‘Aichi target’ of 10 per cent by 2020.”
http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/frydenberg/media-releases/mr20180320.html

[and see item 3]

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3. The Guardian: Labor vows to block ‘largest removal of marine area from conservation, ever’
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/20/labor-vows-to-block-largest-removal-of-marine-area-from-conservation-ever
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4. Marine heatwave drives massive emissions from seagrass death

The loss of seagrass at Shark Bay after the 2010/11 marine heatwave released up to nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere over the following three years, according to Edith Cowan University (ECU), the University of Western Australia and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. This amount is roughly equivalent to the annual CO2 output of 800,000 homes, two average coal-fired power plants or 1,600,000 cars driven for 12 months.

https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2018/03/21/Marine-heatwave-drives-massive-emissions-from-seagrass-death

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5. Last chance to speak at Ecological Surprises and Rapid Collapse of Ecosystems in a Changing World

Abstracts close tomorrow – 23rd MARCH for the upcoming cross-disciplinary Boden Research Conference in 8 & 9th May 2018 at the Shine Dome – Ecological Surprises and Rapid Collapse of Ecosystems in a Changing World.
(Supported by CEED, NESP TSR Hub and the AAD)

http://www.boden2018.com

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EDG News

UWA Node: Drivers of restoration recovery in São Paulo state

The global agenda for forest landscape restoration is leading to ambitious proposals to scale-up restoration, but existing plantings often show mixed success. In a recent paper published in Applied Vegetation Science, Renato Toledo from Universidade de São Paulo, and co-authors (including ERIE adjunct lecturer Mike Perring) examined the drivers of aboveground biomass and species composition in 32 restoration sites from six watersheds in eastern São Paulo state. Despite using the same planting mix in all sites, there was wide variation in biomass (from 0 to 104.7 t/ha), and composition, after seven years of growth. Biomass recovery was lower with increasing sand percentage on fertile soils but was uniformly low on poor/acidic soils, regardless of sand percentage. Greater amounts of forest cover in the surrounding landscape also increased biomass recovery. Interestingly though, this greater forest cover in the surrounding landscape favoured smaller trees and habitat generalists in the restoration plots rather than species typical of moist tropical forest, while increasing sand percentage also inhibited taller species and forest specialists. These results have important implications for scaling-up restoration in the drying climate of São Paulo state (and elsewhere): where previous land use has led to increases in sand percentage and poor neighbouring forest coverage, restoration approaches may need to target alternative reference states while aiming to improve soil and microclimate conditions elsewhere to enable moist tropical forest recovery.

UMelb Node: Grappling with reproducibility in science?
As a lab, we’ve made it a priority to increase the standards of our code to align with best practices for reproducibility and repeatability of our science. In keeping with this goal, this week in reading group Saras Windecker and Hannah Fraser lead a discussion on the British Ecological Society’s Guide to Reproducible Code in Ecology and Evolution, measures on how we can implement these guidelines in our research and the barriers that limit their uptake within the QAEco group. Here is a brief summary of that discussion.
https://qaeco.com/2018/03/20/grappling-with-reproducibility-in-science/

UQ Node: Jennifer McGowan and colleagues on Ocean Zoning within a Sparing versus Sharing Framework
In this paper we:
•           apply the broad concepts from the terrestrial sparing vs. sharing debate to the sea and propose it as a framework to inform marine zoning based on three possible management strategies, establishing: no-take marine reserves, regulated fishing zones, and unregulated open-access areas.
•           develop a general model that maximizes standing fish biomass, given a fixed management budget while maintaining a minimum level of fisheries harvest.
•           We found that when management budgets are small, sea-sparing (no-take marine reserves and open-access zones) is the optimal management strategy because for all parameters tested, reserves are more cost-effective at increasing standing biomass than traditional fisheries management. For larger budgets, the optimal strategy switches to sea-sharing because, at a certain point, further investing to grow the no-take marine reserves reduces catch below the minimum harvest constraint.
•           Our intention is to illustrate how general rules of thumb derived from plausible, single-purpose models can help guide marine protected area policy under our novel sparing vs. sharing framework. This work is the beginning of a basic theory for optimal zoning allocations and should be considered complementary to the more specific spatial planning literature for marine reserve as nations expand their marine protected area estates.
Ref: McGowan, J., Bode, M., Holden, M.H. et al. Theor Ecol (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12080-017-0364-x

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens launch Effective Ecological Monitoring
The fully revised second edition of the highly acclaimed book will be available in May (but a special launch is happening at ANU on Tuesday 27 March with Gene and David both in attendance).
Long-term monitoring programs are fundamental to understanding the natural environment and managing major environmental problems. Yet they are often done very poorly and ineffectively. This second edition of the highly acclaimed Effective Ecological Monitoring describes what makes monitoring programs successful and how to ensure that long-term monitoring studies persist.
http://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7812

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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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