The species in question

The work of the Environmental Decision Group is about better conservation outcomes. Sometimes, however, when the talk is all about evaluation, adaptive management, spatial optimisation and project prioritisation, it’s possible to lose to sight of the purpose of the science – protecting, enhancing and restoring nature, ecosystems and species. It’s kind of the reverse of seeing the forest for the trees. Sometimes all the talk is about policy and management for the forest when everyone is more interested in the beauty and wonder of individual trees. In this issue of Decision Point we bring the focus back squarely on to the value of our research to species – threatened species, declining species and species that hold a special place in our hearts.

Georgia Garrard kicks the ball off with a discussion on how much effort needs to go into detecting threatened species during an environmental impact study. She illustrates her point with how much effort is needed to find the tiny spiny-rice flower in a field of kangaroo grass. Read more…

Ben Scheele discusses the curse of chytrid fungus, threatening over 200 frog species with possible extinction. He focusses on the case of the iconic southern corroboree frog.

Lucie Bland speaks up for the freshwater crayfish of Australia. Few people appreciate that Australia is home to around a quarter of the world’s species and many of them are in trouble.

Migratory shorebirds are another group in big trouble. Claire Runge explains why and outlines the many challenges surrounding their conservation (with a little story about the eastern curlew in the process).

Tal Polak, Jonathan Rhodes and Hugh Possingham then talk about cars and koalas, never a good pairing. And yet, with a bit of maths and clear objectives, there’s a lot we could do to minimise the impact of roads on koalas.

Of course, each story presents insights that extend way beyond the species in question in terms of conservation outcomes. However, now and then it’s nice to see the relevance of a piece of conservation science simply in terms of a species we’d like to see stick around.

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