Dbytes #353 (25 October 2018)

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

“It’s a very lucky person who swims with whales – but many take heart from knowing such ecosystems exist and believe they need to be protected”
Tim Winton The Guardian

General News

1. An industry for restoring native grassy ecosystems
2. The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation
3. National Plan of Action for Minimising Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Australian Capture Fisheries
4. A bat’s end
5. Dingo dinners: what’s on the menu for Australia’s top predator?

EDG Node News

UWA Node: Understanding social preferences for land use in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones
UQ Node: Making the most of limited conservation funds
ANU Node news: Donna Belder and colleagues on current themes and future directions for the conservation of woodland birds through restoration plantings
RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy invited to join the Biodiversity and Ecology expert reference panel for the Green Building Council of Australia

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General News

1. An industry for restoring native grassy ecosystems

Paul Gibson‐Roy recently travelled through the USA, where well‐developed markets for restoration have created a large, financially viable native‐herbaceous seed production and restoration sector. Here, he shares his observations, which show how much about the USA situation can be a model and inspiration for Australian grassy ecosystem restoration.

Ref: Gibson-Roy P (2018). Restoring grassy ecosystems – Feasible or fiction? An inquisitive Australian’s experience in the USA. Ecol Manag & Restor
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/emr.12327
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2. The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation
World Resources Institute

Protecting tropical forests is essential for achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Global Forest Watch Climate recently released estimated carbon dioxide emissions associated with the 2017 tropical tree cover loss data, and the numbers demonstrate more of what we already knew. If tropical tree cover loss continues at the current rate, it will be nearly impossible to keep warming below the pledged two degrees Celsius.

https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/numbers-value-tropical-forests-climate-change-equation

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3. National Plan of Action for Minimising Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Australian Capture Fisheries

“It’s very important that we maintain trust among Australian and international consumers, and manage our fisheries with minimal impact on the natural environment – including seabirds,” Minister Colbeck (Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) said. “The NPOA–Seabirds provides guidance on best-practice mitigation, monitoring and reporting of seabird interactions across all fishing activities in Australian waters.”

http://minister.agriculture.gov.au/colbeck/Pages/Media-Releases/safeguarding-seabirds.aspx

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4. A bat’s end
The Christmas Island Pipistrelle and Extinction in Australia
By John Woinarski

On the evening of 26 August 2009, the last known pipistrelle emerges from its day-time shelter on Christmas Island. Scientists, desperate about its conservation, set up a maze of netting to try to catch it. It is a forlorn and futile exercise – even if captured, there is little future in just one bat. But the bat evades the trap easily, and continues foraging. It is not recorded again that night, and not at all the next night. The bat is never again recorded. The scientists search all nearby areas over the following nights. It has gone. There are no more bats. Its corpse is not, will never be, found. It is the silent, unobtrusive death of the last individual. It is extinction.

https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7791/

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5. Dingo dinners: what’s on the menu for Australia’s top predator?

We found that dingoes eat at least 229 vertebrate species. This includes 62 small mammals (less than 500 grams in mass), 79 medium-sized and larger mammals, 10 species of hoofed mammals, 50 birds and 26 reptiles. Dingoes also eat insects, crustaceans, centipedes, fish and frogs.
https://theconversation.com/dingo-dinners-whats-on-the-menu-for-australias-top-predator-103846

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EDG News

UWA Node: Understanding social preferences for land use in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones

CEED member Maksym Polyakov and Sayed Iftekhar have been working on a study that explores community preferences regarding alternative land uses in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones in Western Australia. The study uses the choice experiment method, and is the first study to apply this method to the context of wastewater treatment plant buffer zone management. In the study there are two information conditions and four land use options. In the first information condition different land use options were presented using text and tables only. In the second information condition land use options were presented visually as maps alongside the text and table information. A between-subject design is used to test how the presentation of information influences people’s preferences for different land use options. For both information conditions the most preferred land use option is nature conservation. Presenting visual information was found to reduce the tendency of respondents to select the status quo option, and was also associated with evidence of increased use of information for decision making. Comparing the value of the optimal land use mix to current real world buffer zone land uses identified the possibility of material welfare gains from reallocating land in buffer zones towards nature based land uses. An industry note has been produced to summarise the study available here: https://watersensitivecities.org.au/content/social-preferences-for-land-uses-in-wastewater-treatment-plant-buffer-zones/
Ref: Iftekhar, M. S., Burton, M., Zhang, F., Kininmonth, I., Fogarty, J., 2018. Understanding social preferences for land use in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones. Landscape and Urban Planning, 178, 208-216.

UQ Node: Making the most of limited conservation funds

One of the balancing acts faced by conservation agencies is how to conserve and protect as many species as possible from extinction with limited funding and finite resources. In the U.S., conservation agencies are supported and guided by the Endangered Species Act, the seminal wildlife conservation tool signed by President Nixon in 1973, but which is currently being reviewed by Congress. Over time, the number of threatened and endangered species added to the ESA has grown faster than the funding for their recovery. As a result, conservation agencies have struggled in making decisions about how to apply the available resources to the greatest effect. The result of this inadequate funding has been that while the ESA has brought back many species from the brink of extinction many of those species remain on “life support,” never fully recovering to independence once again. This adds fuel to the debate over the effectiveness of the ESA. Now a tool has been developed that can be used to help guide conservation scientists in making decisions on how to best use limited funds to conserve the greatest number of species. The team includes CEED UQ researchers Gwen Iacona and Stephanie Avery-Gomm…
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/making-the-most-of-limited-conservation-funds.html

ANU Node news: Donna Belder and colleagues on current themes and future directions for the conservation of woodland birds through restoration plantings
Habitat loss as a result of land conversion for agriculture is a leading cause of global biodiversity loss and altered ecosystem processes. Restoration plantings are an increasingly common strategy to address habitat loss in fragmented agricultural landscapes. However, the capacity of restoration plantings to support reproducing populations of native plants and animals is rarely measured or monitored. This review focuses on avifaunal response to revegetation in Australian temperate woodlands, one of the world’s most heavily altered biomes. Woodland birds are a species assemblage of conservation concern, but only limited research to date has gone beyond pattern data and occupancy trends to examine whether they persist and breed in restoration plantings. Moreover, habitat quality and resource availability, including food, nesting sites and adequate protection from predation, remain largely unquantified. Several studies have found that some bird species, including species of conservation concern, will preferentially occupy restoration plantings relative to remnant woodland patches. However, detailed empirical research to verify long-term population growth, colonisation and extinction dynamics is lacking. If restoration plantings are preferentially occupied but fail to provide sufficient quality habitat for woodland birds to form breeding populations, they may act as ecological traps, exacerbating population declines. Monitoring breeding success and site fidelity are under-utilised pathways to understanding which, if any, bird species are being supported by restoration plantings in the long term. There has been limited research on these topics internationally, and almost none in Australian temperate woodland systems. Key knowledge gaps centre on provision of food resources, formation of optimal foraging patterns, nest-predation levels and the prevalence of primary predators, the role of brood parasitism, and the effects of patch size and isolation on resource availability and population dynamics in a restoration context. To ensure that restoration plantings benefit woodland birds and are cost-effective as conservation strategies, the knowledge gaps identified by this review should be investigated as priorities in future research.
Ref: Belder, D.J., Pierson, J.C., Ikin, K. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Beyond pattern to process: current themes and future directions for the conservation of woodland birds through restoration plantings. Wildlife Research 45(6), 473-489.
https://www.publish.csiro.au/WR/WR17156

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy invited to join the Biodiversity and Ecology expert reference panel for the Green Building Council of Australia
Sarah Bekessy was invited to join the Biodiversity and Ecology expert reference panel for the Green Building Council of Australia. The aim is to develop a new star rating system for green buildings and green communities that puts biodiversity on the agenda. Here’s a link to the GBCA discussion paper that we are responding to:

https://new.gbca.org.au/green-star/green-star-strategy/building-nature/

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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 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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