Dbytes #415 (4 March 2020)

Info, news & views for anyone interested in biodiversity conservation and good environmental decision making


“Urgent action is needed to substantially reduce feral horse numbers in Australia’s alpine national parks. The scientific basis of this imperative is unequivocal. Alas, instead of rapid action to reduce numbers, we have the egregious situation in New South Wales where feral horses within the Kosciuszko National Park have been protected under ‘Wild Horse Heritage Legislation’. The legislation seeks to ‘recognise the heritage value of sustainable wild horse populations within parts of Kosciuszko National Park’ (Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018) where, according to the Member of Parliament, John Barilaro, who introduced the Bill, they ‘can roam without causing significant environmental harm’ (NSW Government News 21 May ). These propositions have no basis in science, and indeed are an assault on science, undermine statutory plans of management and threaten National Heritage values that are protected by Federal and State legislation.”
Richard Williams, EMR [and see item 1]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Feral horses in the Australian Alps: an introduction to the special issue
2. Conservation opportunities on uncontested lands
3. Want to help save wildlife after the fires? You can do it in your own backyard
4. Conservation prioritization can resolve the flagship species conundrum
5. Ten Signs That Indicate That The Sixth Mass Extinction Might Be Happening Now
6. All impact metrics are wrong, but (with more data) some are useful.
7. Insensible on coal

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1. Feral horses in the Australian Alps: an introduction to the special issue

This issue of EMR is focused on the theme of feral horses in Australia’s Alpine Parks.
Providing peer‐reviewed data can assist with informing agencies, governments and communities at a range of levels about impacts.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/14428903/2019/20/1

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2. Conservation opportunities on uncontested lands

David Pannell: Not all agricultural land is productive and valuable. Looking for low-value land might be a useful strategy when seeking to increase the area devoted to conservation. In addition to being relatively cheap to purchase, it may be relatively unlikely to strike problems with social or political opposition. I’m part of a team of researchers that is looking at this issue, led by Eve McDonald-Madden from the University of Queensland. We have a new open-access paper out in Nature Sustainability that presents a framework for thinking about whether and when restoring low-value, or “uncontested”, agricultural land for conservation purposes is likely to be a good idea.

http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/2020/03/331-uncontested-lands/

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3. Want to help save wildlife after the fires? You can do it in your own backyard

People living in cities far from the unprecedented bushfires this summer may feel they can do little more to help beyond donating to organisations that support affected wildlife. But this is not necessarily the case: ten of the 113 top-priority threatened animal species most affected by the fires have populations in and around Australian cities and towns. Conserving these populations is now even more critical for the survival of these species.

https://theconversation.com/want-to-help-save-wildlife-after-the-fires-you-can-do-it-in-your-own-backyard-131896

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4. Conservation prioritization can resolve the flagship species conundrum

Conservation strategies based on charismatic flagship species, such as tigers, lions, and elephants, successfully attract funding from individuals and corporate donors. However, critics of this species-focused approach argue it wastes resources and often does not benefit broader biodiversity. If true, then the best way of raising conservation funds excludes the best way of spending it. Here we show that this conundrum can be resolved, and that the flagship species approach does not impede cost-effective conservation. Through a tailored prioritization approach, we identify places containing flagship species while also maximizing global biodiversity representation (based on 19,616 terrestrial and freshwater species). We then compare these results to scenarios that only maximized biodiversity representation, and demonstrate that our flagship-based approach achieves 79−89% of our objective. This provides strong evidence that prudently selected flagships can both raise funds for conservation and help target where these resources are best spent to conserve biodiversity.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14554-z

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5. Ten Signs That Indicate That The Sixth Mass Extinction Might Be Happening Now

Unlike the other five mass extinctions, the sixth mass extinction is driven solely by human beings.

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-signs-that-indicate-that-the-sixth-mass-extinction-might-be-happening-now.html

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6. All impact metrics are wrong, but (with more data) some are useful.

Impact metrics are flawed; experts have been pointing this out for years. And I’m not singling out Altmetrics here, there are a few different impact metrics used by different journals for the same goal, e.g. PlumX, Dimensions, CrossRef Event Data. Despite their flaws, we’re all still using them to demonstrate how our work is reaching global audiences. I used them recently in a promotion application and a major grant application. But I’m now questioning whether I will keep using them, because they are deeply flawed and are consistently misused and misinterpreted. They are literally a measure of quantity without any context: the number of shares or mentions, but no indication of how and why they are being shared.

https://ecologyisnotadirtyword.com/2020/02/15/all-impact-metrics-are-wrong-but-with-more-data-some-are-useful/

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7. Insensible on coal

Why climate change policy is such a challenge for Australian politics
It is common to reflect on the fact that climate change requires concerted global action. Yet it is uncommon to reflect on the system behind the international approach to orchestrating such action.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. From 2007-2018 Dbytes was supported by a variety of research networks and primarily the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). From 2019 Dbytes is being produced by David Salt (Ywords).

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.

Anyone is welcome to receive Dbytes. If you would like to receive it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

David

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