Don’t forget the weather

DPoint #106 (Oct 2018) (high res pdf for printing)_Page_12_Image_0002

Building models for better decisions

Models are basic to good decision making. System models are representations of the dynamics of an ecological system, a conceptual map of how the system works. They enable us to specify our thinking on how the system responds to management. Without them in our decision frame it’s unlikely our choices will be well founded. What’s more, and just as important, without a system model the potential to learn is limited.

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Billions of dollars are being spent around the world on adapting our cities to climate change. Unfortunately, most of the planning to this point does not include the specific intention of making space for biodiversity. This is a lost opportunity for conservation and the resilience of our cities. There is now considerable evidence of the many values of bringing biodiversity into our urban spaces, as well as the creation of many strategies on how it might be achieved. Pictured above is one depiction of how biodiversity might be incorporated around the urban development at Fisherman’s Bend near Melbourne. It’s part of the work being done by researchers at RMIT under the theme of Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design. See https://iconscience.org/biodiversity-sensitive-urban-design/ for details.

Injecting biodiversity into city spaces

Cities planning to adapt to climate change should take biodiversity along for the ride Key messages: Cities are investing billions of dollars in climate change adaptation We analysed 80 city climate-adaptation plans and found that urban greening plays a key role in most adaptation strategies. This represents an enormous opportunity for biodiversity conservation. Unfortunately, our […]

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Planning for an expanding ice-free Antarctica

Challenge and opportunity as climate change impacts the icy continent KEY MESSAGES: Antarctica is being impacted by climate change, invasive species and an expanding human footprint Ice-free areas, home to nearly all Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity, are projected to dramatically expand by 2100 with potentially severe consequences for native species There is no better time than […]

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Volunteers at the Organ Pipes National Park (just outside of Melbourne) help collect bats from bat boxes. The boxes, attached to the tree trunk, are around 6m off the ground. (Image by Claire Keely)

Are people willing to pay for carbon farming?

Public ‘willingness-to-pay’ for co-benefits Key messages: Adopting carbon farming practices often leads to a loss in profit for farmers We estimated the public’s ‘willingness-to-pay’ for the co-benefits of carbon farming Respondents were willing to pay $19.20 per year for every extra hectare of native vegetation, and $1.13 per year for every metric tonne of CO2-e […]

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Gums could be goners as climate changes

Australians could see suitable environments for the country’s iconic eucalypt trees in decline within a generation, according to new international research involving a CEED Researcher Nathalie Butt. The findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, paint a stark picture with the habitat of more than 90% of eucalypt species set to decline, with 16 […]

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Don’t let ‘climate’ crush coral efforts

Following a recent international coral science conference, CEED researcher Jennifer McGowan led a short correspondence to Nature asking to researchers and managers not to lose sight of where they can make the most difference. “The message of the correspondence aims to unite the coral reef science and management communities after the International Coral Reef Symposium […]

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Riparian vegetation along Brisbane River. Queensland’s waterways provide over $10 billion annually in economic benefits.

Restoring waterways cost-effectively

Southeast Queensland’s waterways provide over $10 billion annually in economic benefits through drinking water supply, fishing, tourism, and recreation. But these goods and services are under threat from intensive agricultural, urban development and climate change.

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The blue groper (Achoerodus viridis, the large blue fish upper left) is a
subtropical and temperate reef species that is protected in Australia.
It is accompanied by Australian Mados (Atypichthys strigatus, the
smaller striped fish) which are subtropical endemics on the Australian
east coast. (Image by Brigitte Sommer)

Conservation of subtropical reefs

Planning for a transition zone in a time of climate change KEY MESSAGES: Subtropical and temperate reefs are currently undergoing ‘tropicalisation’ Going from tropical to temperate reefs, species richness in corals and fishes declines, but that of algae, echinoderms and other invertebrates can increase We should aim to conserve sites that consistently remain important for […]

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Intact ecosystems provide best defence against climate change

With climate change now posing a clear and present danger all around the planet, scientists are calling for more intelligence in the decisions we make about how we adapt, especially in relation to our ecosystems. In many cases, leaving these ecosystems intact would be the smartest and most cost-effective insurance policy we could have. That’s […]

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Our ever changing landscapes: pictured here is a mural in the town
of Sheffield in Tasmania showing a Tasmanian landscape with the
now extinct Tasmanian tiger and the threatened Tasmanian devil. The
Tasmanian tiger went extinct due to a number of stresses including
over hunting, habitat loss and disease. Dealing with any of these
threats individually probably wouldn’t have saved this species just as
dealing with climate change or land-cover change separately may not
save many of today’s threatened species into the future. The key lies in
understanding the interactions between the multiple stressors.
(Photo by Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle)

Risk = [Exposure x Vulnerability] x Hazard

Why interactions between climate and landscape change matter for conservation priorities It was becoming increasingly clear that an approach to conservation that deals with threats one by one without considering how those threats interact is inadequate when biodiversity is threatened by multiple, co-occurring stressors. For example, in Decision Point #57 I showed how species in […]

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Climate extremes impact nectar and fruit availability

And that has consequences for all birds and mammals that depend on them The impacts of climate change on species are well-recognised and, in many cases, already happening. These impacts include shifts in species’ distributions and changes in productivity. These changes in productivity can be driven by longer growing seasons in mid to high latitudes, […]

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Turning up the heat on freshwater interactions

Freshwater habitats are critically important for a broad range of animals and plants (see the article, ‘the importance of freshwater habitat’) and they are in trouble. Worldwide these habitats are experiencing declines in biodiversity far greater than those being experienced in other terrestrial and marine ecosystems. New research involving EDG modelling is hoping to help managers identify how this decline might be best dealt with.

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Translocation in a time of climate change

The translocation of species for conservation involves both the restoration of historic populations (moving organisms to where they once occurred) to managing the relocation of imperiled species to new locations (moving organisms from a place where they are increasingly unable to survive to a place where they might be able to thrive, say in the face of climate change). It’s a challenging management strategy that usually comes with high risk and high cost, yet it is increasingly being considered.

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What’s the point? Give me a home among the gum trees!

Pictured below is an eastern yellow robin building its nest in a gum tree using thin strips of red stringybark. The nest also contains flakes of box gum, yellow box and long-leaf box delicately woven into the rim, or stitched to form a hanging skirt around the side of the nest. A beautiful bird building a work of art high in the bough of Australia’s iconic tree species. Climate change promises to have profound impacts on the distribution of gum trees right across Australia. And, of course (and as this image graphically demonstrates), those impacts will have consequences for the broud suite of organisms that depend on these trees. See the story on the climate change impacts on gum trees in Decision Point #72.

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Head in the clouds

Tropical Montane Cloud Forests (TMCFs) are special places created by specific processes. They are found in the tropics, at mid-altitude on the windward slopes, where the clouds intersect with the mountains. The persistent cloud cover over the canopy of the forest maintains the high annual precipitation (500–1000 mm) and humidity. It also ameliorates intense sunlight, maintaining a mean temperature of 12–23°C.

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Give me a home among the gum trees

Eucalypts are iconic trees in Australian landscapes, and given the variety of treed landscapes that are found across Australia, that’s an amazing thing to consider. There are around 800 species (eucalypt taxonomy is a moveable feast) of three genera, Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora that together are known as eucalypts or gum trees, and these trees have dominance or co-dominance in most forest and woodland ecosystems in Australia. You’ll find them in rainforests, up mountains and across the arid zone.

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