CEED scholarship winner receives outstanding outreach award

marie dadeUQ Geography, Planning and Environmental Management  PhD student, and CEED top-up scholarship recipient Marie Dade has recently been awarded a NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Outstanding Outreach Award.

Marie’s PhD project questions how ecosystem services supply changes under different urban landscape scenarios.

In 2015, she was named Young Student Ambassador with the Wonder of Science (WOS) program, to promote science education within regional Queensland schools. Marie has also worked with the School of Distance Education, visiting remotely-based students on the Cape York Peninsula to talk science careers and ecology research.

“I am passionate about developing ecology-related projects for school students, and love being involved in scientific outreach,” she said.

“ It’s a great way to communicate new ideas and discoveries to a wider audience, and encourage scientific thinking in students.”

Marie is also developing in collaboration with Robyn Bull and others, a schools outreach program for CEED which will be launched during 2017.

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Setting priorities for migratory networks with limited information

migratory networks aticleAccording to Kiran Dhanjal-Adams at the University of Queensland, a lifestyle on the move is not without risk. Migration is physically demanding, and migratory species are highly reliant on places to stop, rest and feed along the way. Unfortunately, human activities are making it riskier for animals to travel, while also reducing the number of places they can travel to. Fishing, culling, fence-building, deforestation, land-reclamation and plastic pollution are all making it increasingly difficult for many species to migrate. So much so, that migratory species populations are declining at much greater rates than non-migratory species.

This suggests that current conservation strategies are not working as well as we would like them to. We are still at the early stages of understanding migration, and data detailing where, when and how far many species migrate is still sparse. Though a few individuals of some species have been tracked, it remains unclear how these few tracked individuals reflect the migration patterns of an entire species.

Because of this poor understanding of where animals migrate, conservation strategies are currently set using the data we have – animal counts. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to assume that sites with lots of migrants are probably more useful to the population than sites with fewer migrants. However, research is increasingly showing that where these sites are relative to each other is equally important. This is because the distance between two sites is likely to impact the number of animals able to travel between the two. Connected sites are therefore more useful to the population than unconnected sites.

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Pic: Catching and tagging birds is a large part of understanding where they migrate. However, if we tag a few birds in multiple locations, we can learn more about how the population behaves as a whole, than if we tag many birds in the same location. (Photo by Kiran Dhanjal-Adams)

Women in science leadership expedition to Antarctica

justine n nancyHomeward Bound is a pioneering leadership, strategy and science initiative for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica. It acknowledges the effects of climate change and anthropogenic alterations of the earth system. The initiative and global movement aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in directing policy and decision-making as it shapes our planet. Launching in 2016, Homeward Bound has gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1,000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds.  The women are undertaking a year-long state-of-the-art program for developing leadership and strategic capabilities to enhance scientific expertise. The inaugural program culminates in the largest-ever female expedition to Antarctica in December 2016. The science program will be led by UQ  CEED researcher Dr Justine Shaw and Dr Mary-Anne Lea from the Institute of Marine & Antarctic Studies, UTAS. CEED researcher Dr Nancy Auerbach will also be on the expedition, selected from a field of over 270 applications to participate.

The Antarctic trip will involve an intense schedule of leadership, strategy execution and global change science. The 76 expeditioners will present their own research in a symposium whilst at sea in Antarctica.  The will be encouraged to explore opportunities for collaborations and how their work can have greater impact and reach.

Dr Shaw said “It’s incredibly exciting when you look at the group of women going, the range of backgrounds and experiences, their scientific disciplines and career stages. This isn’t simply a trip to Antarctica, it’s about bringing women scientists together and exploring leadership and strategy and ultimately how we can make a change. We can’t wait to see what comes out of this voyage, the future collaborations and what it all means for science.”

The women set sail on Friday from Ushuaia for a 20 day expedition.

 justine shaw

Image 1: CEED researchers Dr Nancy Auerbach (left) and Dr Justine Shaw(right) at the launch of Homeward Bound in Ushuaia, Argentina where they will set sail on Friday 2nd of December 2016

Image 2: Dr Justine Shaw, one to the two scientists delivering the science program of the Homeward Bound Antarctic expedition in 2016

Dr Justine Shaw
Dr Justine Shaw is the Science Program Coordinator and on-board Science Faculty for Homeward Bound and Research Fellow, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science and The University of Queensland. Justine‘s research focus is the conservation of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems and invasive species establishment in these areas of low human pressure. Justine is interested in understanding the way in which species interact with each other and their role in ecosystem function. Her research examines the role of environmental factors in influencing species abundance, distribution and occurrence. She is currently examining the risks posed by non-native species to Antarctic protected areas and the role of climatic change in conservation planning for Antarctica (http://decision-point.com.au/article/a-call-to-better-protect-antarctic-biodiversity/]). She is also quantifying human movements within Antarctica and investigating how sub-Antarctic island ecosystems respond to pest eradications to inform conservation decision making. Justine has a wide global research network, having worked in Australia, South Africa, sub-Antarctic/Antarctic and the Arctic. She has been “going south” for 19 years and is passionate about expedition science, having spent many hours in the snow, wind and rain with a pack on her back. She is subject editor for several journals and a co-founder of the Women in Polar Science Network. Through her research she hopes to further conservation of these last true wilderness areas.

Dr Nancy Auerbach
Dr Nancy Auerbach is a participant in the inaugural Homeward Bound program, Senior Project Officer in Database support for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Saving Our Species program, Adjunct Fellow at the University of Queensland Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, and Managing Editor for eBird Australia. Her passion for the natural world has led her to work in alpine, Arctic, rainforest, and desert ecosystems and her connections to the living world and interactions with the increasingly distressed biosphere have inspired her commitment to biodiversity conservation. She earned a PhD from the University of Queensland for her CEED research into prioritising management actions for conservation of threatened flora and fauna. She was compelled to participate in Homeward Bound to join other women scientists in creating an alternative future and advocates a holistic stewardship of nature and the environment over economic growth.

How economics can enhance the success of ecological restoration

recological restoration articleWhat would an economist know about ecological restoration? Well, while he or she may not be up on the taxonomy or ecology of the plants and animals being targeted in a restoration effort, an economist brings considerable expertise when it comes to evaluating the costs of a project (expertise that historically has been lacking in some of the solutions proposed by conservation scientists).

Accurately evaluating likely costs is an important dimension of effective ecological restoration, however, the discipline of economics has so much more to offer. Unfortunately, many restoration practitioners don’t think beyond ‘costs’ when it comes to economics. Well, it’s time they did because economics has a lot more to offer to enhance the likelihood of success of a restoration effort.

Sayed Iftekhar, a CEED researcher based at the University of Western Australia, outlines four key aspects of restoration where economics can provide valuable assistance: estimation of restoration benefits; estimation of the costs of restoration; selection and prioritisation of projects, and securing long-term financial resources to support restoration.

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Pic: It’s one thing to know the cost of a restoration activity (such as direct seed drilling as pictured here), but to ensure the best outcomes of ecological restoration it’s critical to incorporate the full range of social, ecological and economic benefits into your planning. (Photo courtesy of Greening Australia)