Dbytes #346 (5 September 2018)

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

“Certainly, no big change has accompanied the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the past century from roughly 300 to roughly 400 parts per million or from 0.03 to 0.04 per cent. Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s. Sometimes, they do more damage but that’s because there’s more to destroy, not because their intensity has increased. More than 100 years of photography at Manly Beach in my electorate does not suggest that sea levels have risen despite frequent reports from climate alarmists that this is imminent.”

Former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott in a speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, London, 10 Oct 2017
[see items 1, 2 & 3]

General News

1. WMO releases new study assessing sea level rise over past 25 years
2. Australia burns while politicians fiddle with the leadership
3. The Pro-Truth Pledge
4. What wattle is that? A new app holds the answer
5. Will protecting half the Earth save biodiversity?

EDG Node News

UWA Node: Melinda Moir and colleagues on developing a standardized method to estimate honeydew production
UMelb Node: Anwar Hossain and colleagues on assessing the vulnerability of freshwater crayfish to climate change
UQ Node: Sylvaine Giakoumi and colleagues on revisiting “Success” and “Failure” of Marine Protected Areas
RMIT Node: Lindall Kidd bakes a Cumberland Plain Land Snail
ANU Node: Ben Scheele and colleagues on how to improve threatened species management

-~<>~-

General News

1.
WMO releases new study assessing sea level rise over past 25 years

[published 30 Aug 2018]

Over the last 50 years more than 90 % of the excess heat excess accumulated in the climate system because of greenhouse gas emissions has been stored in the ocean. The rest has been warming the atmosphere and continents, and melting sea and land ice. Sea level rise is one of the most severe consequences of climate change from human activities, with potential major impacts on coastal societies.

The international community, through the World Climate Research Programme’s Grand Challenge on Regional Sea Level and Coastal Impacts has recently published an extensive study assessing the various datasets used to estimate components of sea-level rise since the start of the altimetry era in 1993. These datasets are based on the combination of a broad range of space-based and in situ observations, model estimates, and algorithms.

The altimetry-based global mean sea level rise averages 3.1 (± 0.3 mm) per year, with an acceleration of 0.1 mm per year over the 25-year period, according to the study. It also compared the observed global mean sea level with the sum of components. Ocean thermal expansion contributes 42%, glaciers contribute 21%, Greenland contributes 15% and Antarctica contributes 8 % to the global mean sea level rise over the 1993–present period.

https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/new-study-assesses-sea-level-rise-over-past-25-years

-~<>~-

2. Australia burns while politicians fiddle with the leadership
Conversation editorial by Sophie Lewis and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick (22 Aug 2018)

“In light of the clear evidence, it takes a very special kind of politician to ignore the role of climate change in extreme weather events. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would choose to play party political games as whole townships are threatened by fire and drought extends through NSW and Queensland.”

“It is time to stop dismissing our record-breaking temperatures, droughts and winter bushfires as natural variability. The role of climate change in extreme heat is now so pervasive that it is almost a given.”

https://theconversation.com/australia-burns-while-politicians-fiddle-with-the-leadership-101905

-~<>~-

3. The Pro-Truth Pledge

An invitation to advance truthful climate change communication and public discourse more broadly from Pro-Truth Pledge. The Pro-Truth Pledge effort believes that fighting misinformation and protecting truth and facts on climate change and other topics in public discourse requires differentiating those who spread misinformation from truth-tellers, rewarding truth-tellers with a better reputation, and uniting truth-tellers in a cohesive constituency across the political spectrum. The Pro-Truth Pledge offers an easy way to do so by reclaiming the fuzzy concept of “truth,” which different people can interpret differently, with 12 clearly-observable behaviors listed on the pledge website that research in behavioral science shows correlate with truthfulness. Private citizens, public figures, and organizations can take the pledge. Private citizens get the benefit of contributing to a more truthful society. Public figures and organizations get reputational rewards, since the pledge provides them with external credibility by holding them accountable through crowd-sourced fact-checking.

The pledge is run by credible academics and activists. For example, both Peter Singer and Stephan Lewandowsky are on the Advisory Board of the educational 501 nonprofit that runs the pledge, Intentional Insights.

https://www.protruthpledge.org/

-~<>~-

4. What wattle is that? A new app holds the answer

As part of National Wattle Day celebrations, Director of National Parks Dr Judy West, launched a new app which helps users identify over 1070 species of wattle.

“Our native flora forms part of our Australian identity. May Gibbs famous children’s books are infused with it, our national sporting teams’ colours are inspired by it, and today, we have a national celebration dedicated to our nation’s floral emblem,” Dr West said. “It’s fitting that today we launch the Wattle: Acacias of Australia app, a new resource which allows all Australians to identify and learn more about this magnificent species which is found across the country. The app has been developed by the Australian Biological Resources Study, a team within Parks Australia, in collaboration with Identic P/L, and the Western Australian Herbarium.”

The Director of the Australian Biological Resources Study Sue Fyfe, said the app was developed by converting and updating an original plant identification online database, providing a unique and effective means for user identification.

“Wattle: Acacias of Australia is the most up-to-date identification tool for Australian wattle species and with more than 8,500 available images relating to Australian wattles, can assist people with identifying significant wattle species, including rare and endangered groups, bush tucker and potential weeds.”

http://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/keys/wattle

-~<>~-

5. Will protecting half the Earth save biodiversity?

How much of the Earth should we protect to save species from going extinct? Some conservationists have suggested an ambitious number: half of the planet.

Prominent biologist Edward O. Wilson, for instance, proposes in his book, “Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life,” that devoting half the world to nature would help save the majority of species. Other researchers have backed the “Nature Needs Half” theme in policy and advocacy papers: protecting 50 per cent of Earth’s land by 2050 would “help make the planet more livable for humanity.”

But what half do we protect? Achieving this figure simply by creating a large number of protected areas isn’t going to save much biodiversity, says a new study published in Science Advances.
“There’s an increasing call for a Half-Earth,” lead author Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke professor of conservation ecology at Duke University in the U.S., told Mongabay. “But there’s a danger I think in asking for large areas to be protected when in fact we need to protect the right areas, we need to protect the places that really have species in them rather than drawing huge swathes on the map.

EcoBusiness

-~<>~-

EDG News

UWA Node: Melinda Moir and colleagues on developing a standardized method to estimate honeydew production
Melinda Moir (ERIE Adjunct & CEED affiliate) has been collaborating with Lori Lach (former ERIE Adjunct and now Senior Lecturer @ JCU) and Ben Hoffmann (CSIRO), on what fuels yellow crazy ant invasions in New Caledonia and the Northern Territory. Energy rich honeydew (sugary poo) that ants harvest from other insects, particular Hemiptera, is a key factor in allowing invasive ants to build large colonies. Examples of invasions involving this association include Yellow crazy ant on Xmas Island and Red Imported Fire ant in the United States. Moir and colleagues have developed a standardised method to estimate honeydew production without having to identify the bugs to species or conduct laboratory studies. In addition to invasion ecology, this method will be useful in other areas where nutrient cycles involving honeydew exist including agriculture, forestry and carbon farming.

The free online article can be found here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0201845


UMelb Node: Anwar Hossain and colleagues on assessing the vulnerability of freshwater crayfish to climate change
Anwar Hossain, Jose Lahoz-Monfort, Mark Burgman, Monika Böhm, Heini Kujala and Lucie Bland have recently published a first global assessment of freshwater crayfish vulnerability to climate change. Using trait-based protocol, this article found that 87 of the assessed 574 species of freshwater crayfish are vulnerable to climate change under moderate climate change scenario. The study also showed that, 87% of the species are highly sensitive to climate change (primarily due to habitat specialization), whereas 35% have low adaptive capacity and 57% are highly exposed. Of the 87 identified species, only 18 currently have climate change recognised as a threat in the IUCN red-list. This study identified global hotspots of climate change vulnerable freshwater crayfish which require further conservation attention. This study also provides key insights for the application of climate change vulnerability assessment to data-poor invertebrates, which remain underrepresented in global conservation priorities.

Ref: Hossain MA, Lahoz-Monfort JJ, Burgman MA, Böhm M, Kujala H, Bland LM. Assessing the vulnerability of freshwater crayfish to climate change. Divers Distrib. 2018;00:1–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12831

UQ Node: Sylvaine Giakoumi and colleagues on revisiting “Success” and “Failure” of Marine Protected Areas
ABSTRACT: Marine protected areas (MPAs) form the cornerstone of marine conservation. Identifying which factors contribute to their success or failure is crucial considering the international conservation targets for 2020 and the limited funds generally available for marine conservation. We identified common factors of success and/or failure of MPA effectiveness using peer-reviewed publications and first-hand expert knowledge for 27 case studies around the world. We found that stakeholder engagement was considered as the most important factor affecting MPA success, and equally, its absence, was the most important factor driving failure. Conversely, while some factors were identified as critical for success, their absence was not considered as a driver of failure, and vice versa. This mismatch provided impetus for considering these factors more critically. Bearing in mind that most MPAs have multiple objectives, including non-biological, this highlights the need for the development and adoption of standardized effectiveness metrics, besides biological considerations, to measure factors contributing to the success or failure of MPAs to reach their objectives. Considering our conclusions, we suggest the development of specific protocols for the assessment of stakeholder engagement, the role of leadership, the capacity of enforcement and compliance with MPAs objectives. Moreover, factors defining the success and failure of MPAs should be assessed not only by technical experts and the relevant authorities, but also by other stakeholder groups whose compliance is critical for the successful functioning of an MPA. Combining these factors with appropriate ecological, social, and economic data should then be incorporated into adaptive management to improve MPA effectiveness.
Ref: Giakoumi Sylvaine, McGowan Jennifer, Mills Morena, Beger Maria, Bustamante Rodrigo H., Charles Anthony, Christie Patrick, Fox Matthew, Garcia-Borboroglu Pablo, Gelcich Stefan, Guidetti Paolo, Mackelworth Peter, Maina Joseph M., McCook Laurence, Micheli Fiorenza, Morgan Lance E., Mumby Peter J., Reyes Laura M., White Alan, Grorud-Colvert Kirsten, Possingham Hugh P. (2018). Revisiting “Success” and “Failure” of Marine Protected Areas: A Conservation Scientist Perspective. Frontiers in Marine Science 5
https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2018.00223

RMIT Node: Lindall Kidd bakes a Cumberland Plain Land Snail
Lindall Kidd from RMIT’s ICON lab entered the Threatened Species Bakeoff Competition with a cake in the form of a Cumberland Plain Land Snail. It’s sliding towards extinction as urban sprawl gobbles its habitat.
Check it out at https://twitter.com/ICON_Science/status/1037223745025323008

ANU Node: Ben Scheele and colleagues on how to improve threatened species management
Targeted threatened species management is a central component of efforts to prevent species extinction. Despite the development of a range of management frameworks to improve conservation outcomes over the past decade, threatened species management is still commonly characterised as ad hoc. Although there are notable successes, many management programs are ineffective, with relatively few species experiencing improvements in their conservation status. We identify underlying factors that commonly lead to ineffective and inefficient management. Drawing attention to some of the key challenges, and suggesting ways forward, may lead to improved management effectiveness and better conservation outcomes. We highlight six key areas where improvements are needed: 1) stakeholder engagement and communication; 2) fostering strong leadership and the development of achievable long-term goals; 3) knowledge of target species’ biology and threats, particularly focusing on filling knowledge gaps that impede management, while noting that in many cases there will be a need for conservation management to proceed initially despite knowledge gaps; 4) setting objectives with measurable outcomes; 5) strategic monitoring to evaluate management effectiveness; and 6) greater accountability for species declines and failure to recover species to ensure timely action and guard against complacency. We demonstrate the importance of these six key areas by providing examples of innovative approaches leading to successful species management. We also discuss overarching factors outside the realm of management influence that can help or impede conservation success. Clear recognition of factors that make species’ management more straightforward – or more challenging – is important for setting realistic management objectives, outlining strategic action, and prioritising resources. We also highlight the need to more clearly demonstrate the benefit of current investment, and communicate that the risk of under-investment is species extinctions. Together, improvements in conservation practice, along with increased resource allocation and re-evaluation of the prioritisation of competing interests that threaten species, will help enhance conservation outcomes for threatened species.

Ref: Scheele, B., Legge, S., Armstrong, D.P., Copley, P., Robinson, N., Southwell, D., Westgate, M.J. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). How to improve threatened species management: An Australian perspective. Journal of Environmental Management, 223, 668-675. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479718307369

-~<>~-

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 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/  

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 )

Connecting to %s