Dbytes #450 (4 November 2020)

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


“The Academy considers this is an unacceptable situation, one that is not tolerated in other domains such as weather information, biosecurity, health and welfare,” Craig Moritz for the Australian Academy of Science (on biodiversity monitoring and evaluation). [see item 1]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Academy Fellows say it’s time to establish an independent biodiversity agency
2. New Threatened Species Strategy
3. Game of Species: Budget Estimates October 2020
4. Let the games begin – antechinus vs bee eater
5. What happens when an endangered species recovers?
6. Does anyone really believe we are going to avert a climate catastrophe?
7. Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability

-~<>~-

1. Academy Fellows say it’s time to establish an independent biodiversity agency

With Australia failing to halt species decline and our biodiversity management systems broken, now is the time to establish a new independent agency to manage our nation’s biodiversity data, according to Australia’s leading scientists.

The recommendation by the Australian Academy of Science is part of a brief that has been sent to all Australian MPs and senators ahead of debate, expected in the Senate in November, on the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020. The government is arguing that the legislation forms part of phase one of Professor Graeme Samuel’s proposal for reform, with the amendments described as the first tranche of reforms associated with the legislative review of the EPBC Act.

Australian Academy of Science Fellow, Professor Craig Moritz, said the Academy welcomes the interim findings of the Samuel review.

https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/academy-fellows-time-establish-independent-biodiversity-agency

-~<>~-

2. New Threatened Species Strategy

“We are developing a new 10-year Threatened Species Strategy. The Strategy is our guiding policy document. It outlines our approach to protecting and recovering threatened species. Our current Strategy includes a 5-year Action Plan. This launched in mid-2015 and concluded in June 2020.”

https://haveyoursay.awe.gov.au/1new-threatened-species-strategy

[And see item 3, Game of Species]

-~<>~-

3. Game of Species: Budget Estimates October 2020
“Yes Senator? When will we save that adorable possum? I’ll take that on notice.”

The story is no better and the information no more forthcoming at a higher level. So, on this matter of 172 species and ecological communities awaiting a recovery plan and not a single plan being finalised in the last 16 months: And how long will it take to get through this backlog, asked one Senator? “It will take a very long time,” came the helpful senior official’s reply.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

-~<>~-

4. Let the games begin – antechinus vs bee eater

A mini essay of natural history by Geoff Park (follow the link to see Geoff’s images of the contestants):

“For much of the year these two species, the Yellow-footed Antechinus and the Rainbow Bee-eater, maintain a more than adequate social distance.

Rainbowbirds, of course, are in northern Australia from late March until early October. It’s only when they return to central Victoria to reoccupy their breeding tunnels – usually from mid November until about Xmas, that they resume contact with one of their arch enemies.

Yellow-footed Antechinus are restless hunters of insects, lizards and if they get the opportunity, eggs and nestling birds. At present Yellow-footed Antechinus have young – if you are lucky you might see a female playing ‘piggyback’ with its brood. They will happily forage on the vertical faces of erosion gullies, typical sites for Rainbow Bee-eater nests.

Each summer I watch the contest between these two amazing animals as the bee-eaters chase the antechinus away whenever they venture near an active nest. In times past other predators would have also been a concern – Eastern Quoll (to roosting birds), dunnarts and other antechinus species – sadly all now locally extinct or rare. I imagine the Brush-tailed Phascogale may also pose a threat, but they are much less abundant than their smaller cousin … and I’m not sure they could squeeze into a bee-eater tunnel!”

https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/2020/10/29/let-the-games-begin/

-~<>~-

5. What happens when an endangered species recovers?
[From Parks Australia science news; Edition 9—October 2020]
This is an interesting and important question. There are quite a few cases of species declines being reversed, such as humpbacked whales, Indian rhinoceros and tigers. Many ecologists might guess that population size will approach an equilibrium or carrying capacity and stay there. However, this is not necessarily so, as theory predicts that a range of outcomes are possible including increase followed by rapid decline. A population crash can occur if abundance doesn’t closely track resources. Animals are left without sufficient food to survive because they have consumed it all.

We explored this question in a recent publication using data from Australia’s many fox control programs implemented to rescue relict populations of terrestrial mammals. We fitted a range of models describing different population trajectories once they had been freed from predation by foxes. Of the 169 populations of 20 mammal species, 44 exhibited eruptive dynamics characterised by an increase followed by dramatic decrease.

https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ecy.3175

-~<>~-

6. Does anyone really believe we are going to avert a climate catastrophe?

An energy transition is underway but it is too slow to avert a climate catastrophe and it ignores many other environmental and social challenges that need tackling now. Capitalism has got us into this mess but doesn’t have the tools to get us out of it. Perhaps ecosocialism and Extinction Rebellion provide some answers.

https://johnmenadue.com/does-anyone-really-believe-we-are-going-to-avert-a-climate-catastrophe/?mc_cid=cdbc00fb33&mc_eid=bdd43ba6c5

-~<>~-

7. Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability

Global biodiversity policy is at a crossroads. Recent global assessments of living nature (1, 2) and climate (3) show worsening trends and a rapidly narrowing window for action. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has recently announced that none of the 20 Aichi targets for biodiversity it set in 2010 has been reached and only six have been partially achieved (4). Against this backdrop, nations are now negotiating the next generation of the CBD’s global goals [see supplementary materials (SM)], due for adoption in 2021, which will frame actions of governments and other actors for decades to come. In response to the goals proposed in the draft post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) made public by the CBD (5), we urge negotiators to consider three points that are critical if the agreed goals are to stabilize or reverse nature’s decline. First, multiple goals are required because of nature’s complexity, with different facets—genes, populations, species, deep evolutionary history, ecosystems, and their contributions to people—having markedly different geographic distributions and responses to human drivers. Second, interlinkages among these facets mean that goals must be defined and developed holistically rather than in isolation, with potential to advance multiple goals simultaneously and minimize trade-offs between them. Third, only the highest level of ambition in setting each goal, and implementing all goals in an integrated manner, will give a realistic chance of stopping—and beginning to reverse—biodiversity loss by 2050.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6515/411

-~<>~-

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

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