Dbytes #538 (24 August 2022)

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


“studies show false information on social media spreads further, faster and deeper than true information, because it is more novel and surprising.”
Mathieu O’Neil & Michael Jensen in Three reasons why disinformation is so pervasive and what we can do about it


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Building a synthesis of economic costs of biological invasions in New Zealand
2. Game of Sustainability – Episode One: A New Hope
3. Digging deeper into local experience and knowledge of invasive plants by synthesising qualitative research
4. De-extinction Company Aims to Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger
5. A set of principles and practical suggestions for equitable fieldwork in biology
6. How to cold call an academic if you’re a student
7. How to deal with fossil fuel lobbying and its growing influence in Australian politics

-~<>~-

1. Building a synthesis of economic costs of biological invasions in New Zealand

Biological invasions are a major component of anthropogenic environmental change, incurring substantial economic costs across all sectors of society and ecosystems. There have been recent syntheses of costs for a number of countries using the newly compiled InvaCost database, but New Zealand—a country renowned for its approach to invasive species management—has so far not been examined. Here we analyse reported economic damage and management costs incurred by biological invasions in New Zealand from 1968 to 2020. In total, US$69 billion (NZ$97 billion) is currently reported over this ∼50-year period, with approximately US$9 billion of this considered highly reliable, observed (c.f. projected) costs. Most (82%) of these observed economic costs are associated with damage, with comparatively little invested in management (18%). Reported costs are increasing over time, with damage averaging US$120 million per year and exceeding management expenditure in all decades. Where specified, most reported costs are from terrestrial plants and animals, with damages principally borne by primary industries such as agriculture and forestry. Management costs are more often associated with interventions by authorities and stakeholders. Relative to other countries present in the InvaCost database, New Zealand was found to spend considerably more than expected from its Gross Domestic Product on pre- and post-invasion management costs. However, some known ecologically (c.f. economically) impactful invasive species are notably absent from estimated damage costs, and management costs are not reported for a number of game animals and agricultural pathogens. Given these gaps for known and potentially damaging invaders, we urge improved cost reporting at the national scale, including improving public accessibility through increased access and digitisation of records, particularly in overlooked socioeconomic sectors and habitats. This also further highlights the importance of investment in management to curtail future damages across all sectors.

Building a synthesis of economic costs of biological invasions in New Zealand [PeerJ]

-~<>~-

2. Game of Sustainability – Episode One: A New Hope

The year is 1987 and Australia is grappling with the idea of sustainable development – a time where populists battled policy wonks. John Kerin (one of the wonks) said parties were taking a winner-take-all approach without understanding economic, social or environmental consequences.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/08/23/game-of-sustainability-episode-one-a-new-hope/

-~<>~-

3. Digging deeper into local experience and knowledge of invasive plants by synthesising qualitative research

Successful management of invasive plants (IPs) requires the active participation of diverse communities across land tenures. This can be challenging because communities do not always share the views of scientists and managers. They may directly disagree, have alternative views, or be unwilling to manage IPs. Reviews of IP social science identify opportunities to better understand the role of cultural processes and everyday practices to address these challenges. To scale up and leverage the insights of existing qualitative social science IP research, we used meta-ethnography to unlock accounts and interpretations of lay perspectives. Meta-ethnography is a form of qualitative research synthesis increasingly used beyond its origins in health and education to produce interpretive syntheses of an area of research. In the 7 phases of meta-ethnography, we systematically identified and synthesized 19 qualitative articles pertinent to lay experience and knowledge of IPs in diverse settings. Action and meaning regarding IPs were influenced by 6 meta-themes in personal and social life: dissonance, priorities, difference, agency, responsibility, and future orientations. Through descriptions and examples of each meta-theme, we demonstrated how the meta-themes are higher level structuring concepts across the qualitative research that we analyzed and we retained grounding in the in-depth qualitative research. We characterized the meta-themes as leverage points and tensions by which we reframed lay people in terms of capacity for reflective IP management rather than as obstacles. The meta-ethnography synthesis shows how leverage points and tensions emerge from everyday life and can frame alternative and meaningful starting points for both research and public engagement and deliberation regarding IP management. These insights are not a panacea, but open up new space for reflective and mutual consideration of how to effectively navigate often complex IP problems and address conservation and social and livelihood issues in dynamic social and physical environments.

https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13929

-~<>~-

4. De-extinction Company Aims to Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger

The scientists who want to bring back mammoths now hope to revive the marsupial carnivore thylacine

De-extinction Company Aims to Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger – Scientific American

But should we do it?
See
Should we bring back the thylacine? We asked 5 experts

-~<>~-

5. A set of principles and practical suggestions for equitable fieldwork in biology

Field biology is an area of research that involves working directly with living organisms in situ through a practice known as “fieldwork.” Conducting fieldwork often requires complex logistical planning within multiregional or multinational teams, interacting with local communities at field sites, and collaborative research led by one or a few of the core team members. However, existing power imbalances stemming from geopolitical history, discrimination, and professional position, among other factors, perpetuate inequities when conducting these research endeavors. After reflecting on our own research programs, we propose four general principles to guide equitable, inclusive, ethical, and safe practices in field biology: be collaborative, be respectful, be legal, and be safe. Although many biologists already structure their field programs around these principles or similar values, executing equitable research practices can prove challenging and requires careful consideration, especially by those in positions with relatively greater privilege. Based on experiences and input from a diverse group of global collaborators, we provide suggestions for action-oriented approaches to make field biology more equitable, with particular attention to how those with greater privilege can contribute. While we acknowledge that not all suggestions will be applicable to every institution or program, we hope that they will generate discussions and provide a baseline for training in proactive, equitable fieldwork practices.

A set of principles and practical suggestions for equitable fieldwork in biology | PNAS

-~<>~-

6. How to cold call an academic if you’re a student

Manu Saunders: “Academics receive a lot of unsolicited contact (cold calls) from students of all education stages, seeking advice or opportunities. I try to reply to most, but often I can’t – because it’s unclear what the student is asking and why they are contacting me. Note, here I’m talking about students at other institutions that I’ve never met or have no prior connection with, not my existing students or students enrolled at the institution where I teach. Here are a few tips for students wanting to cold call an academic:”

How to cold call an academic if you’re a student – Ecology is not a dirty word

-~<>~-

7. How to deal with fossil fuel lobbying and its growing influence in Australian politics

Will climate action undermine Australia’s democracy? This question might not be as outlandish as it seems. A recent investigation details a campaign by the car industry to have its (low) voluntary standards on fuel efficiency legislated into national standards. This campaign fits into a broader pattern of lobbying by the fossil fuel industry to hinder effective climate action and highlights the importance of democratic integrity in addressing the climate crisis as well as the urgent need for robust regulation of lobbying.

https://theconversation.com/how-to-deal-with-fossil-fuel-lobbying-and-its-growing-influence-in-australian-politics-188515?

-~<>~-

About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. ‘D’ stands for ‘Decision’ and refers to all the ingredients that go into good, fair and just decision-making in relation to the environment.

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). Dbytes is supported by the Global Water Forum.

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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

David Salt
and you can follow me on twitter at
@davidlimesalt

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 )

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