Dbytes #332 (31 May 2018)

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

“Efforts to conserve biodiversity comprise a patchwork of international goals, national-level plans, and local interventions that, overall, are failing.”
Arlidge et al, 2018 [see item 4]

General News

1. The Australian Threatened Species Strategy – A Year Two Progress Report
2.
Nature Without Biodiversity: Urban Climate Adaptation Has a Blind Spot
3. GBCA: It’s time to think about biodiversity in green buildings like we do climate and energy
4. A Global Mitigation Hierarchy for Nature Conservation
5.
Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study

EDG News

RMIT Node: Our City’s Little Gems: Butterfly Biodiversity in the City of Melbourne
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on biodiversity benefits of vegetation restoration undermined by livestock grazing
UWA Node: Dave Pannell and colleagues on policy-oriented environmental research: What is it worth?
UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser and colleagues on Questionable Research Practices in Ecology and Evolution.
UQld Node:
Eduardo Gallo‐Cajiao and colleagues on crowdfunding biodiversity conservation

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General News

1. The Australian Threatened Species Strategy – A Year Two Progress Report

Dr Sally Box, Threatened Species Commissioner: “I am proud to deliver this progress report, which reflects the work of my office and predecessors. This is the fourth report on the Australian Government’s efforts to fight threatened species extinction. It also marks more than two years since the release of the Threatened Species Strategy. Key achievements during this period include:
•Mobilising over $255 million for projects that include outcomes for threatened species.
•Providing a competitive grants round under the Threatened Species Recovery Fund.
•Launching Australia’s first Threatened Species Prospectus.
•Raising awareness of Australia’s threatened species through the use of innovative engagement techniques.
•Increasing momentum and action under the Threatened Species Strategy…”

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/threatened-species-strategy-year-two-progress-report

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2. Nature Without Biodiversity: Urban Climate Adaptation Has a Blind Spot

Many conservationists see urban climate adaptation as a win-win endeavor. After all, making cities more resilient to weather extremes often involves using nature: wetlands to absorb heavy rainfall, trees to lower local temperatures, and so on. Billions of dollars are being spent, and all this new nature ought to be a boon to biodiversity—yet the potential is in danger of being squandered. In a study published in the journal Geo: Geography and Environment [see UQ Node news], researchers led by Natalie Butt, an ecologist at the University of Queensland, reviewed climate adaptation plans from 80 cities around the world. Greenery is ubiquitous in them, but “just 18 percent of the plans assessed contained specific intentions to promote biodiversity,” they found…

http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2018/04/biodiversity-climate-adaptation/

[And see item 3 and UQ Node news]
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3. GBCA: It’s time to think about biodiversity in green buildings like we do climate and energy

The Green Building Council of Australia wants the building sector to start thinking about biodiversity and ecology the same way it does about climate change and energy. According to GBCA head of market transformation Jorge Chapa, while no one in the industry blinks an eye at moves to go zero carbon or net energy positive, that same level of “dramatic change” is not being seen around biodiversity and ecology.

“In principle everyone looks at nature in and around buildings and understands it’s important, but we haven’t put it at the forefront like other things,” Mr Chapa told The Fifth Estate.

In order to signal to the market that it’s time to rethink how nature is integrated and strengthened in and around projects, the council has released a discussion paper on changes to Green Star’s biodiversity and ecology credits…

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/commercial/gbca-its-time-to-think-about-biodiversity-like-we-do-climate-and-energy/99112?mc_cid=5f8835a477&mc_eid=71269d6701
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4. A Global Mitigation Hierarchy for Nature Conservation

Efforts to conserve biodiversity comprise a patchwork of international goals, national-level plans, and local interventions that, overall, are failing. We discuss the potential utility of applying the mitigation hierarchy, widely used during economic development activities, to all negative human impacts on biodiversity. Evaluating all biodiversity losses and gains through the mitigation hierarchy could help prioritize consideration of conservation goals and drive the empirical evaluation of conservation investments through the explicit consideration of counterfactual trends and ecosystem dynamics across scales. We explore the challenges in using this framework to achieve global conservation goals, including operationalization and monitoring and compliance, and we discuss solutions and research priorities. The mitigation hierarchy’s conceptual power and ability to clarify thinking could provide the step change needed to integrate the multiple elements of conservation goals and interventions in order to achieve successful biodiversity outcomes.

Ref: William N S Arlidge, Joseph W Bull, Prue F E Addison, Michael J Burgass, Dimas Gianuca, Taylor M Gorham, Céline Jacob, Nicole Shumway, Samuel P Sinclair, James E M Watson, Chris Wilcox, E J Milner-Gulland; A Global Mitigation Hierarchy for Nature Conservation, BioScience, Volume 68, Issue 5, 1 May 2018, Pages 336–347, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy029
https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biy029/4966810
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5. Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds. The new work is the first comprehensive estimate of the weight of every class of living creature and overturns some long-held assumptions. Bacteria are indeed a major life form – 13% of everything – but plants overshadow everything, representing 82% of all living matter. All other creatures, from insects to fungi, to fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.

See The Guardian for the media story
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study
and PNAS for the science study
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/05/15/1711842115
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EDG News

RMIT Node: Our City’s Little Gems: Butterfly Biodiversity in the City of Melbourne
The data that Luis Mata and others collected for the “Our City’s Little Gems: Butterfly Biodiversity in the City of Melbourne” project has recently been visualised on this super cool platform: http://biodiversity.melbourne.vic.gov.au/insects/#/butterflies

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on biodiversity benefits of vegetation restoration undermined by livestock grazing
Extensive areas of the Earth’s terrestrial surface have been subject to restoration, but how best to manage such restored areas has received relatively limited attention. Here, we quantify the effects of livestock grazing on bird and reptile biota within 61 restoration plantings in south-eastern Australia. Using path analysis, we identified some of the mechanisms giving rise to differences in patterns of species richness and individual species occurrence between grazed and ungrazed plantings. Specifically, we found evidence of both: (1) indirect effects of grazing on various elements of biodiversity mediated through changes in vegetation condition (primarily the leaf litter layer), and (2) direct effects of grazing on biodiversity (irrespective of modification in vegetation cover attributes), possibly as a result of trampling by livestock. We also uncovered evidence of direct effects on bird and reptile biota of other planting attributes such as planting width and planting age. The results of our study suggest that the biodiversity benefits of restoration programs can be undermined by grazing, especially by uncontrolled grazing. We suggest that where the objective of vegetation restoration is to enhance biodiversity conservation, grazing within plantings should be limited or excluded.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B., Blanchard, W., Crane, M., Michael, D., and Sato C. (2018). Biodiversity benefits of vegetation restoration undermined by livestock grazing. Restoration Ecology, doi:10.1111/rec.12676.

UWA Node: Dave Pannell and colleagues on policy-oriented environmental research: What is it worth?
Evidence about the benefits to society from research is increasingly demanded. Economic models to evaluate the benefits of research exist but have not been applied to environmental research. We outline a framework for estimating the benefits of policy-oriented environmental research. Key elements include defining the counterfactual, time lags and valuing the benefits. Applications to environmental research are especially challenging when the research users are policymakers.
Ref: David J. Pannell, Julian M. Alston, Scott Jeffrey, Yvonne M. Buckley, Peter Vesk, Jonathan R. Rhodes, Eve McDonald-Madden, Simon Nally, Garry Goucher, Tas Thamo (2018). Policy-oriented environmental research: What is it worth? Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 86, Pages 64-71, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.05.005

UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser and colleagues on Questionable Research Practices in Ecology and Evolution.
“We surveyed 807 researchers (494 ecologists and 313 evolutionary biologists) about their use of Questionable Research Practices (QRPs), including cherry picking statistically significant results, p hacking, and hypothesising after the results are known (HARKing). We also asked them to estimate the proportion of their colleagues that use each of these QRPs. Several of the QRPs were prevalent within the ecology and evolution research community. Across the two groups, we found 64% of surveyed researchers reported they had at least once failed to report results because they were not statistically significant (cherry picking); 42% had collected more data after inspecting whether results were statistically significant (a form of p hacking) and 51% had reported an unexpected finding as though it had been hypothesised from the start (HARKing). Such practices have been directly implicated in the low rates of reproducible results uncovered by recent large scale replication studies in psychology and other disciplines. The rates of QRPs found in this study are comparable with the rates seen in psychology, indicating that the reproducibility problems discovered in psychology are also likely to be present in ecology and evolution.”
Ref: Fraser, H., Parker, T. H., Nakagawa, S., Barnett, A., & Fidler, F. (2018, March 21). Questionable Research Practices in Ecology and Evolution. https://osf.io/ajyqg/

UQld Node: Eduardo Gallo‐Cajiao and colleagues on crowdfunding biodiversity conservation
Raising funds is critical for conserving biodiversity and hence so too is scrutinizing emerging financial mechanisms that might help achieve this goal. In this context, anecdotal evidence indicates crowdfunding is being used to support a variety of activities needed for biodiversity conservation, yet its magnitude and allocation remain largely unknown. We conducted a global analysis to help address this knowledge gap, based on empirical data from conservation‐focused projects extracted from crowdfunding platforms. For each project, we determined the funds raised, date, country of implementation, proponent characteristics, activity type, biodiversity realm, and target taxa. We identified 72 relevant platforms and 577 conservation‐focused projects that have raised US$4 790 634 since 2009. Whilst proponents were based in 38 countries, projects were delivered across 80 countries, indicating a potential mechanism of resource mobilization. Proponents were from non‐governmental organizations (35%), universities (30%), or were freelancers (26%). Most projects were for research (40%), persuasion (31%), and on‐ground actions (21%). Projects have focused primarily on species (57.7%) and terrestrial ecosystems (20.3%), and less on marine (8.8%) and freshwater ecosystems (3.6%). Projects have focused on 208 species, including a disproportionate number of threatened bird and mammal species. Crowdfunding for biodiversity conservation has now become a global phenomenon and presents signals for potential expansion, despite possible pitfalls. Opportunities arise from its spatial amplifying effect, steady increase over time, inclusion of Cinderella species, adoption by multiple actors, and funding of a range of activities beyond research. Our study paves the way for further research on key questions, such as campaign success rates, effectiveness, and drivers of adoption. Even though the capital input of crowdfunding so far has been modest compared to other conservation finance mechanisms, its contribution goes beyond funding research and providing capital. Embraced with due care, crowdfunding could potentially become an increasingly important financial mechanism for biodiversity conservation.
Ref: Gallo‐Cajiao E, C. Archibald, R. Friedman, R. Steven, R. A. Fuller, E. T. Game, H. Morrison, E. G. Ritchie (2018). Crowdfunding biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.13144

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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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Dbytes #331 (25 May 2018)

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

“Kosciuszko National Park exists to protect the unique environment of the Snowy Mountains, and that unique environment includes wild brumbies.”
John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, NSW. Read more

“The decision is an international embarrassment,”
Alix Goodwin, Chief executive, National Parks Association of NSW, read more

[And see item 1]

General News

1. NSW’s no-cull brumby bill will consign feral horses to an even crueller fate
2.
The Wet Tropics Management Authority issued ‘State of Wet Tropics 2016-17’.
3. Global mismatch of policy and research on drivers of biodiversity loss
4. Clean Energy Regulator releases two new savanna fire management methods
5. To get conservative climate contrarians to really listen, try speaking their language

EDG News

General CEED News: What happened at the #CEEDTC2018 Twitter Conference (Tuesday, 22 May 2018)?
UQ Node: Eduardo Gallo for Vice President! Vote by 29 May
RMIT Node:
Sarah Bekessy and Holly Kirk speak at the Pint of Science
ANU Node:
Dave Blair and colleagues on failing to conserve Leadbeater’s Possum and its Mountain Ash forest habitat
UMelb Node:
Mick McCarthy featured in threatened species article in The Age

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General News

1. NSW’s no-cull brumby bill will consign feral horses to an even crueller fate
An Conversation editorial by Don Driscoll, President of the ESA

“New South Wales’ proposed brumby legislation – which abandons plans to cull feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park – is a dangerously reckless policy that will escalate environmental impacts, escalate costs, and put horses at risk of extreme suffering. The New South Wales’ Deputy Premier John Barilaro was reported as saying the cultural significance of the brumbies needed to be recognised. But the evidence regarding feral horse (brumby) impacts on the environment in the Australian alps makes it clear that large numbers of feral horses are incompatible with maintaining the ecological values of Kosciuszko National Park.”

https://theconversation.com/nsws-no-cull-brumby-bill-will-consign-feral-horses-to-an-even-crueller-fate-96905

and see also Assoc Prof Graeme Worboys’ editorial:
“This is an extraordinary proposal given that the brumby is an introduced stock animal gone wild and it is threatening the special values of Kosciuszko by trampling, eroding and polluting its unique alpine wetlands and catchments. It is even more inappropriate given the government’s scientific advisors are recommending that feral horses (brumbies) are listed as a threatening process.”
https://johnmenadue.com/graeme-worboys-save-kosciuszko/

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2. The Wet Tropics Management Authority issued ‘State of Wet Tropics 2016-17’.

http://www.wettropics.gov.au/site/user-assets/docs/2016-17%20State%20of%20Wet%20Tropics%20report.pdf

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3. Global mismatch of policy and research on drivers of biodiversity loss

From Tessa Mazor: “I would like to share with you a new paper out today in Nature Ecology and Evolution titled “Global mismatch of policy and research on drivers of biodiversity loss”. Our study synthesises over >44,000 articles and highlights the need to realign research on global drivers of biodiversity loss to better match policy agenda. We call for more work to be done concerning pollution and for multiple driver interactions. This paper was written by a group of CSIRO postdocs from a diverse range of fields – the journey of our paper can be read in our blog

Ref: Mazor, T., Doropoulos, C., Schwarzmueller, F., Gladish, D.W., Kumaran, N., Merkel, K., Di Marco, M. & Gagic, V. (2018) Global mismatch of policy and research on drivers of biodiversity loss Nature Ecology and Evolution doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0563-x

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4. Clean Energy Regulator releases two new savanna fire management methods

Two new savanna fire management methods—one that credits emissions avoidance only, and one that credits both sequestration and emissions avoidance, are now available under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Savanna fire management activities eligible under these two methods result in a shift to fewer large, high intensity late dry season fires, to a greater proportion of smaller, planned, lower intensity fires generally in the early dry season. This shift in the fire regime results in a reduction in emissions of methane and nitrous oxide and an increase in carbon dioxide stored in dead organic matter (coarse and heavy fuels). Sequestered carbon is subject to permanence obligations.

http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/About/Pages/News%20and%20updates/NewsItem.aspx?ListId=19b4efbb-6f5d-4637-94c4-121c1f96fcfe&ItemId=503
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5. To get conservative climate contrarians to really listen, try speaking their language

It’s a well-studied fact that facts don’t speak for themselves. This is especially apparent with climate change. Some brilliant studies in the past ten years have shown that people respond to narratives about climate change, not raw facts.

https://theconversation.com/to-get-conservative-climate-contrarians-to-really-listen-try-speaking-their-language-94296
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EDG News

General CEED News: What happened at the #CEEDTC2018 Twitter Conference (Tuesday, 22 May 2018)?
Who said this: “Decision science is just six steps and 31 one syllable words: 1 what do we want? 2 what can we do? 3 how does what we do change what we want? 4 pick the best think to do; 5 do; 6 learn. Or six word: Objectives, actions, models, algorithms, act, learn”
To find out, see the Highlights from CEED’s innagural Twitter Conference. An online-only environmental decision science conference that increases research potential, removes travel pollution, and improves equity.
[Hint: the mystery quote comes from person who uses the Twitter tag HugePossum!]
https://twitter.com/i/moments/998793807457017856
And here’s what CEED’s Director Kerrie Wilson said:
“Our inaugural Twitter Conference #CEEDTC2018 has been a huge success! According to metrics gathered by the comms team, your tweets from the conference had a potential audience reach of almost 600,000 people. This has been a great opportunity to begin a new and meaningful environmental decision science conversation while planting the seeds for new research partnerships and collaborations around the world. It has also been a great opportunity to lead by example, by hosting an online conference that did not generate any travel-related emissions.”

UQ Node: Eduardo Gallo for Vice President! Vote by 29 May
The final round of the elections for VP for Education and Outreach for the Board of Governors of the Society for Conservation Biology is on. A CEED PhD student based at UQ, Eduardo Gallo has come first in the initial round thanks to all your support. He now needs backing for the final push in his campaign. The second and final round closes on 29th May, so please cast your vote and consider him for this election at: https://conbio.org/about-scb/who-we-are/staff-board/bog-elections

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy and Holly Kirk speak at the Pint of Science
Sarah Bekessy spoke on Monday 14 May at the Pint of Science “Earth’s Future” session on “Everyday nature for the future of cities”.  A perfect storm of ideas is generating unprecedented enthusiasm for embracing nature in cities. But it’s more than just urban greening; it’s generating daily doses of biodiversity. https://pintofscience.com.au/event/earths-future
And Holly Kirk spoke last Tuesday at the Pint of Science “Animal Antics” session on “Studying the secret life of seabirds”.  Seabirds spend almost their whole lives on the open ocean, so how do we go about protecting these natural wonders? Holly spoke about how technological advances are uncovering seabird behaviour and aiding marine conservation. https://pintofscience.com.au/event/animal-antics

ANU Node: Dave Blair and colleagues on failing to conserve Leadbeater’s Possum and its Mountain Ash forest habitat
The conservation of the Critically Endangered Leadbeater’s Possum in Victoria’s Mountain Ash forests is one of the most controversial native mammal conservation issues in Australia. Much of the controversy results from long-running conflicts between the demands of the native forest logging industry and associated impacts on Leadbeater’s Possum and its Mountain Ash forest habitat. Here we argue that despite a legislative obligation to protect Leadbeater’s Possum and some limited recent improvements in management, conservation efforts for the species have gone backwards over the past decade. The key problems we identify include that the Victorian Government has: (1) maintained levels of wood production that are too high given the amount of the forest estate that was burned in 2009, (2) failed to substitute clearfell logging practices with more ecologically-sensitive Variable Retention Harvesting Systems, (3) ignored the science (including by its own researchers) on the need for a large protected area for Leadbeater’s Possum, (4) altered key definitions such as those for mature trees and old growth that have substantially weakened the ability to protect Leadbeater’s Possum, and (5) overlooked the array of forest values beyond timber production (such as water and tourism) and which make a greater contribution to the economy. Our analyses suggest that populations of Leadbeater’s Possum are undergoing a substantial decline, as are other hollow-dependent species such as the Greater Glider. In light of this, it is clear that Victoria needs to substantially change native forest timber harvesting practices as well as improve its efforts to conserve Leadbeater’s Possum and the Mountain Ash forests in which it occurs.
Ref: Blair, D., McBurney, L., and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Failing to conserve Leadbeater’s Possum and its Mountain Ash forest habitat. Australian Zoologist, https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2018.008
UMelb Node: Mick McCarthy featured in threatened species article in The Age
“We’ve done particularly badly with mammals … around one-third of the mammal species that have gone extinct over the last couple of hundred years have come from Australia,” Mick McCarthy said. “Unfortunately, we’re punching well above our weight when it comes to threatened species going extinct.”
However, Professor McCarthy said the good news was that that trajectory could be reversed.
“To some extent, we’re actually pretty good at preventing extinction … if we actually know that [threatened species] exist and put in efforts to manage the threats against them,” he said.
He said disease, predation by introduced animals and habitat loss were all leading drivers of species decline – all of which could be addressed through research, policy changes and investment.
“If you look at total federal government expenditure which is roughly in the area of threatened species, it’s around about $70 million per year,” Professor McCarthy said. “That might sound like a lot of money, but it’s tiny in comparison to proposed tax cuts of around $20 billion a year on average over seven years.
“Defence gets over $30 billion a year – so these are three orders of magnitude of expenditure more than what we are spending on a federal level on threatened species.”
https://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/dozens-of-animals-and-plants-join-australia-s-threatened-species-list-20180512-p4zexo.html


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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 ARC 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/

 

Dbytes #330 (17 May 2018)

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

“Funding for the Environment Department has been cut again in this year’s budget. Since the 2012-13 budget, funding for the Environment Department has been cut by 37%. At a time when ecosystems are under extreme stress and entire species are threatened, the government is choosing to cut environment funding.”
Hannah Aulby (The Australia Institute)


General News

1. Australians value reducing the risk of marine pests on the environment
2. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow
3. Swaths of native forest near Great Barrier Reef set to be bulldozed
4. Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Wentworth Group on requirements for Sustainable Diversion Limit
5. Dedicated boundary-spanners can support a more effective relationship between science and policy

EDG News

General CEED News: CEED Twitter Conference is on Tuesday 22 May 2018
UQ Node: Maria Jose Martinez-Harms and colleagues on Inequality in access to cultural ecosystem services from protected areas in the Chilean biodiversity hotspot.
RMIT Node: Mat Hardy on revolving private land to conserve nature
ANU Node:
Natasha Robinson and colleagues on reintroducing bandicoots in Booderee National Park
UMelb Node:
Jane Elith and colleagues running another species distribution modelling course

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General News

1. Australians value reducing the risk of marine pests on the environment

ABARES has released ‘An Assessment of the non-market value of reducing the risk of marine pest incursions in Australia’s waters.’ The assessment analyses public sentiment on the protection of the Australian environment from the impacts of new exotic marine pests. This new research shows that Australians place significant value on the health of our marine environment and that preventative policies will not only be essential in reducing the chance of marine pest incursions, they will also have both economic and environmental benefits.

http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/fisheries/fisheries-research/value-of-reducing-marine-pest-incursion-risk

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2. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow

AUSTRALIA’S greenhouse gas pollution levels have jumped yet again, with the latest national government data released just days after climate change was forgotten in the Federal Budget.

Climate Council Acting CEO Dr Martin Rice said the Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory released overnight shows an increase of 1.5% in greenhouse pollution levels over the last year (December 2017).

“This is now the third consecutive year Australia has seen an increase in greenhouse gas pollution levels. Yet, the Federal Government continues to bury its head in the sand, despite the climate siren sounding for years,” he said.

“This increase in emissions comes just days after the Federal Government failed to introduce any funding measures to tackle intensifying climate change in the 2018 Budget.”

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/pollution-jumps-as-australia-buries-its-head-in-the-sand
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3. Swaths of native forest near Great Barrier Reef set to be bulldozed

Federal officials plan to back the destruction of almost 2000 hectares of pristine Queensland forest in a move that threatens the Great Barrier Reef and undermines a $500 million Turnbull government rescue package for the natural wonder. A draft report by the Department of the Environment and Energy recommends that the government allow the mass vegetation clearing at Kingvale Station on Cape York Peninsula. The area to be bulldozed is almost three times the size of the combined central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/swaths-of-native-forest-near-great-barrier-reef-set-to-be-bulldozed-20180512-p4zewb.html

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4. Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Wentworth Group on requirements for Sustainable Diversion Limit

“The Murray‐Darling Basin Plan is an agreement to recover 3,200 GL of environmental water or equivalent outcomes to help restore the health of the Murray‐Darling Basin. Under Chapter 7 of the Basin Plan, this volume may be reduced if state governments can demonstrate alternative ways of delivering similar outcomes for the environment, as part of a process known as the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment. In December 2017, the Australian Government tabled in Parliament an amendment to the Basin Plan (Basin Plan Amendment (SDL Adjustments) Instrument 2017) which increased the SDL by 605GL on the basis of 36 projects proposed by state governments. Our recent assessment found only one project was consistent with the requirements of the Basin Plan and related agreements. On the basis of this assessment, we compiled advice on the specific project requirements and legislative changes which would allow states to modify their projects in line with the Basin Plan, and restore credibility to the SDL adjustment process.”

http://wentworthgroup.org/2018/05/requirements-for-sdl-adjustment-projects/2018/

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5. Dedicated boundary-spanners can support a more effective relationship between science and policy

Boundary-spanning is one approach to creating a more comprehensive and inclusive knowledge exchange process between science and decision-makers. Articulating the views and experiences of a group of fellow boundary-spanners, Chris Cvitanovic explains how the concept has come to be defined and is now being taken up by those tackling highly complex or “wicked” modern-day problems. Boundary-spanners can support a more effective relationship between science and policy in a number of ways, including by increasing the efficiency with which scientific information is considered in decision-making processes and by identifying policy windows and helping scientists to capitalise on them quickly.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2018/05/01/dedicated-boundary-spanners-can-support-a-more-effective-relationship-between-science-and-policy/?mc_cid=aa50cf9ce2&mc_eid=cbc75f5ba5
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General CEED News: CEED Twitter Conference is on Tuesday 22 May 2018
The schedule for the CEED Twitter Conference is now available on the CEED website. We have over 50 presentations from the CEED community, scheduled throughout the day from 7am to 7pm, with opportunities for you to join the discussion and ask questions between presentations. To follow the proceedings, you can watch the live feed from our webpage. To join the conversation, go to Twitter (see our CEED Twitter page @ARC_CEED, or follow the hashtag #CEEDTC2018).

We’re looking forward to the great conversations about environmental decisions science – see you then!

UQ Node: Maria Jose Martinez-Harms and colleagues on Inequality in access to cultural ecosystem services from protected areas in the Chilean biodiversity hotspot.
We quantified inequality in access to protected areas CES in a Chilean biodiversity hotspot. We developed a proxy for protected areas CES using visitation data from social media. Inequality in accessibility to CES from protected areas was very high. Conservation planning is needed to reduce inequality in access to protected areas CES.
Ref: Maria Jose Martinez-Harms, Brett A. Bryan, Spencer A. Wood, David M. Fisher, Elizabeth Law, Jonathan R. Rhodes, Cynnamon Dobbs, Duan Biggs, Kerrie A. Wilson (2018). Inequality in access to cultural ecosystem services from protected areas in the Chilean biodiversity hotspot. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 636, 2018, Pages 1128-1138. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969718315365

RMIT Node: Mat Hardy on revolving private land to conserve nature
Buying, protecting and reselling private land can be an effective way to conserve nature, but relies upon selecting the right properties.
Ref: Hardy M (2018): Revolving private land to conserve nature. Australasian Science 39: p46.

ANU Node: Natasha Robinson and colleagues on reintroducing bandicoots in Booderee National Park
Reintroductions can be an effective means of re-establishing locally extinct or declining faunal populations. However, incomplete knowledge of variables influencing survival and establishment can limit successful outcomes. We aimed to examine the factors (e.g. sex, body mass, release order) influencing the survival, dispersal, home range and habitat selection of reintroduced southern brown bandicoots into an unfenced, predator-managed environment in south-eastern Australia (Booderee National Park). Over 2 weeks in May 2016, six female and five male bandicoots were wild-caught in state forest and hard released into the park. Release locations were approximately evenly distributed between three primary vegetation types assessed as suitable habitat: heath, woodland and forest. Bandicoots were radio-tracked day and night for 4 weeks from the initial release date. No mortality was detected. Males dispersed more than twice as far as females but there was no significant sex bias in home range size. At the landscape scale, bandicoots preferentially selected home ranges that contained heath and avoided forest. Within home ranges, heath and woodland were both favoured over forest. Post-release dispersal is sex-biased, but more data are required to determine the influence of other predictors such as body mass and release order. Within the release area, bandicoots favoured non-forest vegetation types. Our study outlines factors influencing the establishment of reintroduced bandicoots. We recommend that future bandicoot reintroductions to Booderee National Park occur within areas of heath and woodland, and that subsequent releases consider the potentially larger spatial requirements and conspecific avoidance among male bandicoots. Our findings contribute new knowledge for improving translocation methods of a nationally endangered medium-sized mammal.
Ref: Robinson N. M., MacGregor C. I., Hradsky B. A., Dexter N., Lindenmayer D. B. (2018) Bandicoots return to Booderee: initial survival, dispersal, home range and habitat preferences of reintroduced southern brown bandicoots (eastern sub species; Isoodon obesulus obesulus). Wildlife Research 45, 132-142. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR17040

UMelb Node: Jane Elith and colleagues running another species distribution modelling course
From Jane: “Guru, José and I are teaching a 4-day course on species distribution modelling (SDM) in June. This will be similar to a course I led for CEED a few years ago (updated, but broadly the same themes and approaches) – if you missed it and want to come to this one (and have some money), there are still a few places. You may not plan to use SDMs much, but it might be useful to spend 4 days working on them to understand issues involved in fitting the models and in using them for various common applications. The course will be roughly 50% talks and demonstrations, 40% computer-based pracs, and 10% group discussion. Plus a comfortable amount of time in breaks to chat about issues. You’ll see from the website that we’re using R. And that the course costs ~ $950 without accommodation
More info: https://www.prstatistics.com/course/species-distribution-models-using-r-sdmr01/


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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 ARC 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/

Dbytes #329 (3 May 2018)

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

“As society turns to Wikipedia for answers, students, educators, and citizens should understand its limitations when researching scientific topics that are politically charged. On entries subject to ‘edit-wars’, like acid rain, evolution, and global change, one can obtain – within seconds – diametrically different information on the same topic.”
Gene Likens (the discoverer of acid rain and a recent visitor at the ANU Node)
Read more


General News

1. National Strategy for Environmental-Economic Accounting
2. A decadal plan for taxonomy and biosystematics in Australia and New Zealand 2018–2027
3.
The MDBA issued ‘Living Murray – Icon site condition report’.
4. We Just Breached the 410 PPM Threshold for CO2
5. Feed the man beef aquacultured fish


EDG News

UMelb Node: Luke Kelly on managing fire for plant and animal conservation
UQ Node:
Megan Evans on effective incentives for reforestation: lessons from Australia’s carbon farming policies
RMIT Node:
Kirsty Murray gives a glowing review of RMIT’s book – the little things that run the city
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer on forest collapse threatens Melbourne’s water supply

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General News

1. National Strategy for Environmental-Economic Accounting

On 27 April 2018 the Meeting of Commonwealth, state and territory environment ministers endorsed a strategy to deliver a common national approach to environmental-economic accounting in Australia. Environmental-economic accounting helps us understand the condition of our environment, and its relationship with our economy. The strategy will ensure that coherent, comprehensive and integrated accounts are built and support public sector and business decision making at all levels – farm-enterprise-region-state-national – and across all sectors.

http://www.environment.gov.au/science/environmental-economic-accounting

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2. A decadal plan for taxonomy and biosystematics in Australia and New Zealand 2018–2027

This decadal plan (released by the Aust Acad of Science and the Royal Society) seeks to use new and emerging technologies, develop key infrastructure, and create a unified and dynamic science that will serve the needs of society, government, industry and our unique biodiversity.

https://www.science.org.au/support/analysis/decadal-plans-science/discovering-biodiversity-decadal-plan-taxonomy
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3. The MDBA issued ‘Living Murray – Icon site condition report’.

Murray Darling Basin Authority: A decade’s worth of data has been collated for the first time to show how water recovered for the environment is improving key ecological sites on the River Murray.

https://www.mdba.gov.au/media/mr/decade-data-shows-basin-plan-working-environment

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4. We Just Breached the 410 PPM Threshold for CO2

Scientific American: Carbon dioxide has not reached this height in millions of years

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/we-just-breached-the-410-ppm-threshold-for-co2/

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5. Feed the man beef aquacultured fish

From a former EDG member Claire Runge: “Feeding the world without losing our remaining biodiversity is one of the great challenges facing humanity. We found that we can save a huge area of land from future cultivation – an area twice the size of India – if people switch a small part of their diet from terrestrial meat (beef, chicken, pork etc) to aquacultured fish. These changes in diet are already happening. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry in the world, now producing more biomass than both beef cattle and wild-catch fish. Though there are well-documented issues with aquaculture industry, as there are with terrestrial meat production (such as the degradation of rivers and streams from livestock), we argue that these land use savings make this an idea worth considering as a way to reduce pressure on natural ecosystems. (This work came out of my time with the Science for Nature and People Partnership SNAPP https://snappartnership.net/, I did not receive funding from the aquaculture industry.)
Ref: Froehlich HE, Runge CA, Gentry RR, Gaines SD, Halpern BS. 2018. Comparative terrestrial feed and land use of an aquaculture-dominant world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:201801692. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/04/24/1801692115

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EDG News

UMelb Node: Luke Kelly on managing fire for plant and animal conservation
A recent initiative from the Ecological Society of Australia is the publication of one-page ‘Hot Topics’ that synthesise ideas and issues important to environmental policy. In 2017 I wrote a Hot Topic on ‘Managing fire for plant and animal conservation‘ with Angie Haslem (La Trobe) and Brett Murphy (Charles Darwin University). It’s just been republished in the journal Austral Ecology – along with five other widely read Hot Topics. A simple – but often overlooked – point we emphasised is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fire management. Natural ecosystems contain different species, have different fire regimes and present different fire risks to biodiversity and people. Fire management will be more effective when guided by local knowledge and based on the demonstrated requirements of plants and animals, as well as the habitats they depend on.
https://ltkellyresearch.com/2018/03/26/managing-fire-for-plant-and-animal-conservation/

UQ Node: Megan Evans on effective incentives for reforestation: lessons from Australia’s carbon farming policies
Large-scale reforestation will rely at least in part on private landholders who are motivated to increase forest cover on their properties. Well-designed incentives can encourage landholder adoption of reforestation within production landscapes, while delivering social, economic and biodiversity co-benefits. Here, I draw on lessons from extensive research on barriers and enablers to landholder adoption of tree planting, the growing literature highlighting the potential benefits of assisted natural regeneration (ANR) for large-scale reforestation, and experiences from a voluntary land-based carbon abatement (‘carbon farming’) program implemented in Australia since 2012, where tree planting and ANR comprise several approved reforestation methods. Carbon farming projects to date have primarily adopted the ANR methods, yet program outcomes have been undermined by increased deforestation elsewhere in Australia. Policy uncertainty, the provision of co-benefits and the availability of trusted information are key factors influencing landholder adoption. Incentives for reforestation must be underpinned by a coherent and complementary policy mix which facilitates long-term participation and genuine environmental outcomes.
Ref: Megan C Evans (2018). Effective incentives for reforestation: lessons from Australia’s carbon farming policies, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 32, June 2018, Pages 38-45,
Free to access using this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1WzVL6gsyPU5ja


RMIT Node: Kirsty Murray gives a glowing review of RMIT’s book – the little things that run the city
I love the specificity of The Little Things that Run the City. Every Melbourne child should have a copy of this book available to them and that’s actually possible as it’s a free, downloadable pdf at the City of Melbourne’s website. Click the image of the book’s cover to get a copy. Though it’s great to be able to access this fascinating project so easily, the actual hardcover book is such a pleasure to hold, I highly recommend getting a physical copy. The book was produced as an outreach educational resource for the City of Melbourne as part of the Interdiscplinary Conservation Science Research Group at RMIT University. So it’s not widely available in bookshops but it can be purchased at the shops in the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens…”
http://kirstymurray.com/non-fiction/the-big-impact-of-little-things/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on forest collapse threatens Melbourne’s water supply
A landmark study from ANU has found that a vital forest in Victoria faces imminent collapse, which poses a major threat to Melbourne’s water supply. Lead researcher Professor David Lindenmayer said the study was based on 35 years of research in Victoria’s Mountain Ash forest, which generates nearly all of the water for Melbourne’s people and businesses. “Wildfires and over-logging have tipped the Mountain Ash forest very close to collapse – populations of animals living there have halved, and in some cases have declined by more than 65 per cent during the past 20 years,” said Professor Lindenmayer from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society. He said the impending disaster could be avoided by having better forest policy and greater political will to save the forest’s large old trees…
http://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/imminent-forest-collapse-threatens-melbourne-s-water-supply

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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 ARC 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/

Dbytes #328 (26 April 2018)

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

“It is important that we get the balance right between protecting our environment and allowing our agriculture sector to grow and prosper,” Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg in announcement on Weeding out unnecessary red tape for farmers


General News

1. The April 2018 issue of Decision Point is now live!
2. Australia’s ‘
top 20 Birds and 20 mammals’ at risk of extinction
3. Australians value reducing the risk of marine pests on the environment
4. The Ten Deserts Project
5.
See Christmas Island’s red crab migration with Google

EDG News

General CEED news: Please participate in CEED’s inaugural Twitter Conference (22 May 2018)
ANU Node:
Luke O’Loughlin in Science on his experiences doing remote field work
UMelb Node: Fiona Fidler and Hannah Fraser on: Our survey found ‘questionable research practices’ by ecologists and biologists
UQ Node: Rachel Friedman and colleagues produce a systematic review of social equity in conservation research
RMIT Node:
Matthew Selinske and colleagues on revisiting the promise of conservation psychology

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General News

1. The April 2018 issue of Decision Point is now live!

In this issues, among other things, we’ll introduce you to decision triggers, 3D conservation planning and threat management with incomplete information. And, if you find all these different ways of approaching a decision a bit daunting, we also give you an overview on how to navigate the field of decision analysis. The April issue of Decision Point is now available to download (the whole issue or simply visit the story you’re interested in). And it’s free!

Check it out yourself at http://decision-point.com.au/
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2. Australia’s ‘top 20 Birds and 20 mammals’ at risk of extinction

Abstract: A critical step towards reducing the incidence of extinction is to identify and rank the species at highest risk, while implementing protective measures to reduce the risk of extinction to such species. Existing global processes provide a graded categorisation of extinction risk. Here we seek to extend and complement those processes to focus more narrowly on the likelihood of extinction of the most imperilled Australian birds and mammals. We considered an extension of existing IUCN and NatureServe criteria, and used expert elicitation to rank the extinction risk to the most imperilled species, assuming current management. On the basis of these assessments, and using two additional approaches, we estimated the number of extinctions likely to occur in the next 20 years. The estimates of extinction risk derived from our tighter IUCN categorisations, NatureServe assessments and expert elicitation were poorly correlated, with little agreement among methods for which species were most in danger – highlighting the importance of integrating multiple approaches when considering extinction risk. Mapped distributions of the 20 most imperilled birds reveal that most are endemic to islands or occur in southern Australia. The 20 most imperilled mammals occur mostly in northern and central Australia. While there were some differences in the forecasted number of extinctions in the next 20 years among methods, all three approaches predict further species loss. Overall, we estimate that another seven Australian mammals and 10 Australian birds will be extinct by 2038 unless management improves. The research was led by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

Ref: Geyle et al. (2018) Quantifying extinction risk and forecasting the number of impending Australian bird and mammal extinctions. Pacific Conservation Biology
https://doi.org/10.1071/PC18006

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3. Australians value reducing the risk of marine pests on the environment

ABARES has today released An Assessment of the non-market value of reducing the risk of marine pest incursions in Australia’s waters, which analyses public sentiment on the protection of the Australian environment from the impacts of new exotic marine pests. ABARES Executive Director, Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, said this new research shows that Australians place significant value on the health of our marine environment.
“This survey of over 2,800 people clearly shows that the public support action to protect Australia’s waters from exotic marine pests,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.
“The research finds that the Australian public are willing to back their opinion up with actions. Individual households on average would be willing to contribute $16.29 a year—or between $22 million and $58.8 million a year as a nation—to protect one species.
“Individual households on average are also willing to contribute $9.25 per 250km of coastline—or between $12.5 million and $33.4 million as a nation—to secure a 50 per cent chance of protecting our marine environments from exotic pests.”

http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/news/media-releases/2018/aus-value-reduce-risk-mp-new-research

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4. The Ten Deserts Project

The Ten Deserts Project is an exciting new Indigenous land management collaboration across Australia’s desert country. Sustaining the largest Indigenous-led connected conservation network on Earth, the project aims to keep Australia’s outback healthy for the benefit of the entire world. The project is led by Desert Support Services (DSS), part of the Central Desert Group, and involves some of Australia’s most successful Indigenous organizations supported by international and regional conservation partners.

http://tendeserts.org/

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5. See Christmas Island’s red crab migration with Google

In December, Google took their Street View trekker to Christmas Island, a remote tropical territory of Australia just south of Indonesia. With Parks Australia, they joined the island’s red crabs as they marched in the millions from the forest to the sea for their annual migration. Starting today on Google Maps Street View and Google Earth, you can explore Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands’ unique wildlife, dazzling ocean vistas and lush rainforests, including the grand finale of the red crab migration—the spawning. The red crabs wait all year for this very moment—and the precise alignment of the rains, moon and tides—to release their eggs at the coastal waters.
https://www.blog.google/products/maps/shellebrating-christmas-islands-extraordinary-nature-street-view-and-google-earth/

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EDG News

General CEED news: Please participate in CEED’s inaugural Twitter Conference (22 May 2018)
On 22 May 2018, aligned with World Biodiversity Day, CEED will host the inaugural online Twitter Conference (#CEEDTC2018) with a focus on Environmental Decisions. The primary objectives are to strengthen our inter-node network using new technical platforms, keeping abreast of research developments and impact, and identifying new opportunities for inter-node collaboration. In addition, #CEEDTC2018 may provide additional outreach and engagement to a broader lay person audience and highlight CEED’s international standing.
Abstracts are open till 30 April.
http://ceed.edu.au/whats-on/ceed-twitter-conference-2018.html

ANU Node: Luke O’Loughlin in Science on his experiences doing remote field work
From Luke: “The letter is part of the ‘Working Life’ forum where scientists share their personal work experiences that other scientists might find useful to hear (especially if they are in a similar position). My letter is about how becoming an active part of a local community helped me deal with isolation during my PhD, which ultimately benefitted my science. The letter also covers how you might go about engaging with your new community when you’re in an unfamiliar situation. For me, that was about going to the pub. That’s right, I’ve somehow managed to publish a letter in Science about going to the pub!”
Ref: O’Loughlin (2018). No one is an island. Science 6384: p122. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6384/122.full

UMelb Node: Fiona Fidler and Hannah Fraser on: Our survey found ‘questionable research practices’ by ecologists and biologists
“Cherry picking or hiding results, excluding data to meet statistical thresholds and presenting unexpected findings as though they were predicted all along – these are just some of the “questionable research practices” implicated in the replication crisis psychology and medicine have faced over the last half a decade or so.
We recently surveyed more than 800 ecologists and evolutionary biologists and found high rates of many of these practices. We believe this to be first documentation of these behaviours in these fields of science.”
The Conversation
https://theconversation.com/our-survey-found-questionable-research-practices-by-ecologists-and-biologists-heres-what-that-means-94421

UQ Node: Rachel Friedman and colleagues produce a systematic review of social equity in conservation research
Conservation decisions not only impact wildlife, habitat, and environmental health, but also human wellbeing and social justice. The inclusion of safeguards and equity considerations in the conservation field has increasingly garnered attention in international policy processes and amongst conservation practitioners. Yet, what constitutes an “equitable” solution can take many forms, and how the concept is treated within conservation research is not standardized. This review explores how social equity is conceptualized and assessed in conservation research.
Our results demonstrate the current limitations of research on equity in conservation, and raise challenging questions about the social impacts of conservation and how to ameliorate equity concerns. Framing of equity within conservation research would benefit from greater transparency of study motivation, more explicit definition of how equity is used within the study context, and consideration for how best to assess it. We recommend that the empirical conservation literature more deeply engage with different notions of equity when studying, planning, and implementing actions to address potential trade-offs among equity and conservation objectives and beneficiaries.
Ref: Friedman RS, E Law, NJ Bennett, CD Ives, J Thorn & K Wilson (2018). Environmental Research Letters
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabcde

RMIT Node: Matthew Selinske and colleagues on revisiting the promise of conservation psychology
Continued development of conservation psychology is essential to addressing the challenges of biodiversity conservation.
Ref: Selinske MJ, GE Garrard, SA Bekessy, A Gordon, AM Kusmanoff & F Fidler. (2018) Conservation Biology https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.13106

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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 ARC 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/

 

Dbytes #327 (19 April 2018)

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

“The degradation of the earth’s land surface is pushing the planet towards a sixth mass species extinction. Halting this problem and restoring degraded land is an urgent priority to protect all life on earth!”
@IPBES report on #LandDegradation. Read more: ow.ly/pXtR30jbrE6
[Recommended by Ram Pandit, UWA]


General News

1. Longer and more frequent marine heatwaves over the past century
2. A biodiversity-crisis hierarchy for conservation indicators
3. How to change the climate story: Paul Hawken
4. Measuring Our Influence as Conservation Scientists
5. Extinctions: Past and Present


EDG News

RMIT Node: Luis Mata led a workshop for the City of Melbourne ArtPlay initiative.
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer wins 2018 Robert H. Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award
UWA Node: Ram Pandit on REDD+ adoption and factors affecting respondents’ knowledge of REDD+ goal
UMelb Node: Tanja Staka and colleagues on the value of accounting for cultural differences in conservation leadership
UQ Node: Blake Simmons and colleagues on land-clearing policy shouldn’t take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach

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General News

1. Longer and more frequent marine heatwaves over the past century

Heatwaves are important climatic extremes in atmospheric and oceanic systems that can have devastating and long-term impacts on ecosystems, with subsequent socioeconomic consequences. Recent prominent marine heatwaves have attracted considerable scientific and public interest. Despite this, a comprehensive assessment of how these ocean temperature extremes have been changing globally is missing. Using a range of ocean temperature data including global records of daily satellite observations, daily in situ measurements and gridded monthly in situ-based data sets, we identify significant increases in marine heatwaves over the past century. We find that from 1925 to 2016, global average marine heatwave frequency and duration increased by 34% and 17%, respectively, resulting in a 54% increase in annual marine heatwave days globally. Importantly, these trends can largely be explained by increases in mean ocean temperatures, suggesting that we can expect further increases in marine heatwave days under continued global warming.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03732-9

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2. A biodiversity-crisis hierarchy for conservation indicators

“We show that many key drivers of biodiversity loss are either poorly evaluated or entirely lacking indicators. We use a biodiversity-crisis hierarchy as a conceptual model linking drivers of change to biodiversity loss to evaluate the scope of current indicators. We find major gaps related to monitoring governments, human population size, corruption and threat-industries. We recommend the hierarchy is used to develop an expanded set of indicators that comprehensively monitor the human behaviour and institutions that drive biodiversity loss and that, so far, have impeded progress towards achieving global biodiversity targets.
Ref: Don Driscoll et al (2018). A biodiversity-crisis hierarchy to evaluate and refine conservation indicators. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2: 775-781.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8?code=524dbaf5-7778-4c8c-97bc-ecabda6935ae&error=cookies_not_supported
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3. How to change the climate story: Paul Hawken

Want to avoid climate disaster? Abandon the “wussy” language of climate mitigation as well as war metaphors, and develop more positive ways of thinking about the issue, said American environmentalist Paul Hawken at a recent conference in Sydney.
Eco-Business

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4. Measuring Our Influence as Conservation Scientists

I am a conservation scientist. Like any other scientist, I develop and test hypotheses, trying to figure out how the world works. Once I learn something, I publish my results in academic journals where other scientists can evaluate and build upon what I’ve learned. Because I’m a conservation scientist, however, I also need make sure the people who directly impact prairie conservation (ranchers, land managers, policy makers, etc.) get my information and use it to improve the way grasslands are managed and restored. If I fail to influence the actions of others in positive ways, I fail as a conservation scientist…
https://prairieecologist.com/2018/02/21/measuring-our-influence-as-conservation-scientists/

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5. Extinctions: Past and Present

This free online course (MOOC) explores how life on Earth has been shaped by five mass extinction events in the distant past. Biodiversity is now facing a crisis, with the prospect of a sixth extinction event now unravelling.
http://mooc.es/course/extinctions-past-and-present-2/

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Luis Mata led a workshop for the City of Melbourne ArtPlay initiative.
Luis helped participants create a Wild City and be introduced to real and inspiring stories of animal architecture, through wildlife corridors, green roofs and other animal friendly ideas.

https://twitter.com/ecocityforum/status/978855479794380800

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer wins 2018 Robert H. Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award
The Whittaker Award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States.
https://www.esa.org/esa/2018-esa-awards/

UWA Node: Ram Pandit on REDD+ adoption and factors affecting respondents’ knowledge of REDD+ goal: Evidence from household survey of forest users from REDD+ piloting sites in Nepal
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD+) has been piloted in several countries among socio-economically diverse forest-dependent communities and households. Piloting is a way to raise awareness of REDD+ and its likely practice in the future. The impacts of piloting schemes on likely adoption of REDD+ among participating households and whether those households are fully aware of REDD+ goal are not fully understood in a range of contexts. This paper examines the likely adoption of REDD+ in community forests and factors affecting respondent’s knowledge of REDD+ goal using post-piloting survey of 600 households from two watersheds in Nepal. Controlling for respondent, household, and community forest-related characteristics, the logistic regression results indicate that the factors affecting respondent’s knowledge of REDD+ goal include respondent’s age, economic status of the household, and the proportion of firewood and fodder needs contributed by private land. Moreover, over 95% of the surveyed households were willing to adopt REDD+ in their community forests. These results have implications on design and implementation of future REDD+ policy and projects to generate global climate change benefits from the management of forests at a local level.
Ref: Pandit, Ram (2018). REDD+ adoption and factors affecting respondents’ knowledge of REDD+ goal: Evidence from household survey of forest users from REDD+ piloting sites in Nepal. Forest Policy and Economics (In Press). Available online 16 February 2018. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389934117301259?via%3Dihub

UMelb Node: Tanja Staka and colleagues on the value of accounting for cultural differences in conservation leadership
Effective leaders are critical in determining successful outcomes of conservation programs. As the business and economic leadership literature shows, awareness around cultural differences in leadership attributes is important for positive project outcomes set in inter-cultural contexts. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to understand whether, and how, the influence of cultural context was acknowledged when describing successful leadership attributes of conservation leadership. We found fifteen papers from different geographical regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America) explicitly addressing conservation leadership attributes. We further explored how characteristics of four key attributes (i.e. motivating others, establishing a shared vision, effective communication and partnership building) were addressed within these different cultural settings. Our review shows that the discourse on how culture influences attributes of a conservation leader and its implications for conservation outcomes is very limited. Awareness and sensitivity around this influence is important as cultural differences may either facilitate or hinder conservation project outcomes, particularly when people from different cultural backgrounds work together.
Ref: Straka TM, Bal P, Corrigan C, Di Fonzo MMI, Butt N. 2018. Conservation leadership must account for cultural differences. Journal for Nature Conservation 43:111–116. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1617138118300517
and see the CEED story: http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/44-news-2018/504-carefully-considering-culture-in-conservation.html

UQ Node: Blake Simmons and colleagues on land-clearing policy shouldn’t take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach
On the heels of fiery debate in Queensland regarding proposed changes to land clearing legislation in Parliament, researchers in the Wilson Lab have published a new study describing how land clearing patterns have changed alongside considerable fluctuations in the Vegetation Management Act.
“Overall, landholders across Queensland have continued to select clearing locations that may be most suitable for agriculture,” said lead author and PhD candidate, Blake Alexander Simmons. “However, at more regional scales, unique patterns emerge as the strength of policy tightens and relaxes. Different regions are responding differently to policy change.”
The study points to the fluctuating timeline of amendments to the Vegetation Management Act during 1989-2015 to illustrate the different responses of regional landholders to clearing restrictions and relaxations. Intensive agricultural and pastoral regions like the Brigalow Belt South bioregion have changed the amount of clearing in accordance with policy in the past, but they have continued to clear in the same locations. Other regions, like the Great Barrier Reef Catchment, have changed what they are clearing to align more with the policy’s changing goals.
Simmons argues that land clearing poses great concerns to biodiversity, ecosystem function, and climate change, but current proposals in Parliament are too broad.
“It is critical that parliament recognises these different responses and that the policy does not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to regulation,” he said. “Rather, policy must consider local and regional drivers of clearing, as individual regions are driven by different pressures and conditions.”This point appears to be embedded into many arguments from the new bill’s opposition, which largely consists of farmers, graziers, and agricultural lobby groups.
Ref: Simmons BA, Law EA, Marcos-Martinez R, Bryan BA, McAlpine C, Wilson KA (2018) Spatial and temporal patterns of land clearing during policy change. Land Use Policy, 75, 399-410. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.03.049
And see http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/44-news-2018/506-land-clearing-policy-shouldn-t-take-a-one-size-fits-all-approach.html

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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 ARC 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/

 

Dbytes #326 (12 April 2018)

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

[Perth’s] “Western suburbs residents are gutted that yet another swathe of woodland nationally listed as ‘threatened’, home to species nationally listed as ‘endangered’, faces the developer’s bulldozer.”
Emma Young, WA Today


General News

1. 20 May declared as World Bee Day
2. IPBES – four regional assessments: warnings of global biodiversity decline and land degradation
3. A guide to managing water for the environment
4. Why we are measuring the health of Australian vegetation poorly
5. Theft or inspiration? – How good ideas spread

EDG News

UQ Node: Angela Dean and colleagues on how marine and coastal citizen science experiences foster environmental engagement
RMIT node:
Sarah Bekessey on the critical role of ‘everyday nature’ for the future of cities
ANU Node: Damian Michael and David Lindenmayer on a new wave of rock removal could spell disaster for farmland wildlife
UWA Node: Sayed Iftekhar on partial project selection to improve conservation auction performance
UMelb Node: Oded Berger-Tal and José Lahoz-Monfort on ‘Conservation technology: the next generation’

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General News

1. 20 May declared as World Bee Day

On 20 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 20 May of each year as World Bee Day.

https://www.ipbes.net/20-may-declared-world-bee-day

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2. IPBES – four regional assessments: warnings of global biodiversity decline and land degradation

Biodiversity continues to decline across the globe, threatening livelihoods, food security, economies and quality of life, according to four regional assessments released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

The reports, which cover the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Africa and Europe/Central Asia, have been developed by more than 550 academics over the past three years, finding that biodiversity and nature’s capacity to support populations was in decline in all regions. Pressures include habitat stress; overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources; air, land and water pollution; increasing numbers and impact of invasive alien species, and climate change. “Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people sound, to many people, academic and far removed from our daily lives,” Mr Watson said. “Nothing could be further from the truth – they are the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities and enjoyment of life.”
Findings in the Asia-Pacific region include:
•there’ll be no exportable fish stocks left by 2048 if current practices continue
•up to 90 per cent of corals will experience severe degradation by 2050
•a 45 per cent anticipated loss of habitats and species by 2050 could occur under BAU.

Environment Report editorial
https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2018/03/29/Global-biodiversity-continues-dangerous-decline

Actual report
https://www.ipbes.net/news

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3. A guide to managing water for the environment

Last month, the World Water Forum was held in Brazil where the Australian Water Partnership released A Guide to Managing Water for the Environment. Staff from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office contributed significantly to the guide which was distributed to an international audience of more than 600 representatives, and is now publicly available. The guide offers practical advice for countries seeking to improve their management of environmental water by 2030 when the Sustainable Development Goals must be met. The guide acknowledges that as pressure on existing resources and the natural environment increases, water allocation and decisions must consider the importance of water for the environment. It uses case studies from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office to highlight the fundamentals of effective environmental watering, and showcase the benefits for communities and the environment.
https://waterpartnership.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/HLPW-Guide-Managing-Water-Environment.pdf

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4. Why we are measuring the health of Australian vegetation poorly
Ayesha Tulloch, David Lindenmayer and Hugh Possingham in the Conversation

“Many of Australia’s ecosystems are in a much worse condition than we think. This is because officials are measuring the health of ecosystems such as forests and woodlands by their size, instead of how damaged they are by disturbances. A “disturbance” is a short-term change in environmental conditions that leads to a long-term change in an ecosystem. Some habitat disturbances are natural, such as some fires and extreme weather events. Others are created by human activities, such as logging, pollution, intensive grazing, and mining…”
https://theconversation.com/why-we-are-measuring-the-health-of-australian-vegetation-poorly-94116

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5. Theft or inspiration? – How good ideas spread
By Joern Fischer (apart from the bits I stole from Ioan Fazey)

Academic work, ultimately, is all about good ideas. But how do you know an idea is truly yours? In this post, I reflect on some of “my” best ideas, wondering where they came from – and posing a few different hypotheses. Perhaps there’s no such thing as an original idea…
https://ideas4sustainability.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/theft-of-inspiration-how-good-ideas-spread/

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EDG News

UQ Node: Angela Dean and colleagues on how marine and coastal citizen science experiences foster environmental engagement
Citizen science events can foster increased engagement in environmental issues. Citizen science events provide ‘entry points’ for environmental engagement. Procedural learning elicited stronger engagement outcomes than factual learning. Experiencing surprise or negative emotions elicited stronger engagement outcomes. Excitement only elicited outcomes in ‘less experienced’ participants.
Ref: Angela J. Dean, Emma K. Church, Jenn Loder, Kelly S. Fielding, Kerrie A. Wilson, (2018). How do marine and coastal citizen science experiences foster environmental engagement? Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 213, 2018, Pages 409-416
http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/44-news-2018/502-hands-on-experience-prompts-new-actions-for-reef-citizen-scientists.html

Megan Barnes and colleagues on Prevent perverse outcomes from global protected area policy
Aichi Target 11 has galvanized expansion of the global protected area network, but there is little evidence that this brings real biodiversity gains. We argue that area-based prioritization risks unintended perverse consequences and that the focus of protected area target development should shift from quantity to quality
Ref: Barnes MD, L Glew, C Wyborn & ID Craigie (2018). Prevent perverse outcomes from global protected area policy. Nature Ecology and Evolution

RMIT node: Sarah Bekessey delivers keynote presentation at the SA NRM Science Conference in Adelaide: The critical role of ‘everyday nature’ for the future of cities
A perfect storm of ideas is generating unprecedented enthusiasm for embracing nature in cities. Re-enchanting urban residents with nature can deliver a remarkable range of health benefits, while creating cities that are more resilient to climate change. Creating ‘every day nature’ in cities presents opportunities to reverse the fate of many threatened species and connect people with Indigenous history and culture. But it’s more than just urban greening; it’s generating daily doses of biodiversity. The future of liveable cities may well depend on this new conceptualization, but a major shift in the way nature is conceived of and planned for is required.
http://nrmscience.org/

ANU Node: Damian Michael and David Lindenmayer on a new wave of rock removal could spell disaster for farmland wildlife
“My (DM’s) perception of threatened species habitats changed the first time I encountered a population of endangered lizards living under small surface rocks in a heavily cleared grazing paddock. That was 20 years ago, at a time when land managers were well aware of the biodiversity values of conservation reserves and remnant patches of native vegetation. But back then we knew very little about the biodiversity values of the agricultural parts of the landscape.
https://theconversation.com/a-new-wave-of-rock-removal-could-spell-disaster-for-farmland-wildlife-94305

UWA Node: Sayed Iftekhar on partial project selection to improve conservation auction performance
Conservation auctions often follow an ‘all or nothing’ bid selection approach, which restricts the selection of the most suitable parts of a submitted project. The problem with ‘lumpy’ (or all-or-nothing) project selection has been identified in the literature as a major problem in conservation policy; however, the extent of the problem has been rarely quantified. Using an actual conservation tender dataset from Tasmania, the effect of the approach was estimated. This study finds that with a relatively small budget, the cost-effectiveness loss could be as high as one-quarter. To avoid such problem, a partial bid selection could be applied. The basic principle of a partial bid selection is to invite a single project from each landholder with the option for the environmental planning agency to partially select sections of the offer lands that maximise the achievement of the agency’s policy objectives. A sensitivity analysis with different bid and ecological value correction factors shows that when the corrections are low, the partial selection approach could be more cost-effective than an ‘all or nothing’ approach. The results indicate that agencies should consider alternative project selection approaches with better targeting capabilities.
Ref: Iftekhar, M. S., Tisdell, J. G., Sprod, D., 2018. Can partial project selection improve conservation auction performances? Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 1-21. DOI: 14486563.2017.1417164.

UMelb Node: Oded Berger-Tal and José Lahoz-Monfort on ‘Conservation technology: the next generation’
The sheer magnitude of human-induced environmental changes that our planet is experiencing, and the resulting continuous decline in biodiversity, have made the field of conservation biology highly dependent on technological solutions. Wildlife managers and policy makers worldwide are using modern technologies in almost every aspect of their work from using satellites and drones to monitor wildlife, habitats, and threats, to fabricating wildlife products in order to fight poaching, or use biological engineering to battle invasive species. However, a common feature shared by most of these efforts is that they rely on technological solutions that were originally developed for other purposes (such as for the military of medical industries). In an recent publication in the journal Conservation Letters, Oded Berger-Tal from Ben-Gurion University, Israel and José Lahoz-Monfort from the University of Melbourne, Australia, call for the biodiversity conservation community to evolve from their traditional role as consumers of technology to becoming innovation leaders and to actively seek to create novel technologies which would provide conservation tools and solutions that are specific, low-cost, modular and open-source. This technological revolution is already underway with several new initiatives dedicated to finding technological solutions to conservation problems using a bottom-up approach. The paper outlines these current efforts as well as the critical mind-set changes required to coordinate these efforts and scale them up in order to support the development and effective deployment of conservation technology tools at unprecedented scales.
Ref: Berger-Tal, O. & Lahoz-Monfort, J.J. (2018) Conservation technology: the next generation. Conservation Letters.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/conl.12458

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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 ARC 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/