Model to explore predator-prey interactions

Humpback whale webViv Tulloch has developed a multi-species model, in collaboration with CSIRO, as part of her PhD research. 

It models interactions between krill and five key baleen whale predators, and predicts their future recovery given changes in primary productivity from climate change.

Viv was invited to present her research findings to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Scientific Meeting held in Slovenia.

As stated in an executive summary of the presentation:

"...the model presents an updated assessment for blue, fin, humpback, right and minke whales as a basis for exploring ecosystem dynamics in the Southern Hemisphere. Results demonstrate key differences in population trajectories and estimates between models that account for, or ignore, predator-prey linkages. This is a strategic model that provides a platform for exploring additional hypotheses and management strategies, and is being modified in a step-wise fashion to explore predator-prey interactions and the effects of future environmental change on krill and whales."

The full report from the meeting will be available from the IWC soon.

Images: Proceedings of the International Whaling Commission Scientific Meeting in Slovenia (Viv Tulloch); a humpback whale (Viv Tulloch).

IWC whalingcommission

Conserving migratory species

migratory godwits briefThe multiple challenges of planning for complex migratory networks

Migratory species are pretty amazing. Some species travel vast distances in a single migration. An individual bar-tailed godwit, a migratory wading bird, was once tracked as travelling an incredible 11,000 km in a single flight! Arctic terns travel the equivalent of to the Moon and back three times over the course of their life. But it’s not just the distances they cover that is awe inspiring. Some of them return year after year to the same location, navigating across landscapes that have been transformed by humans.

Given such Herculean feats, it seems tragic that many of the world’s migratory species are now in serious decline.

Read more: Conserving migratory species

Of nets, fisher rights and net benefits

Chile fishing boats briefEnforcement and marine management: maximising conservation & economic value

One of the biggest threats to the sustainability of the world's oceans is the over-exploitation of marine resources. To manage this threat, which is largely a product of over-fishing and other extractive activities, governments restrict the activities that can occur in their marine areas. These restrictions include regulation of fishing effort in certain locations, or the creation of no-take zones (areas where fishing or other extractive activities are prohibited).

Spatial optimisation models can help policy makers plan the best use of marine areas amongst these different activities.

Read more: Of nets, fisher rights and net benefits

Detectability, threatened species & environmental impact assessments

spiny rice flower briefWhy detectability matters and what we should do about it

It is now widely accepted that many species are not perfectly detectable during an ecological survey. This means that, sometimes, a species that is present at a site will not be detected by an observer (or observers) during a survey of that site. The probability that the species will be detected if it is present (its ‘detectability’) is influenced by many factors. One of the most important factors is the level of effort put into the survey. In general, the more effort that is expended, the higher the chance of detecting the species.

Why do we care about this? Well, there are many reasons.

Read more: Detectability, threatened species & environmental impact assessments

When to put all your bilbies in the same basket

Bilby Bernard DupontAustralia’s shy endangered marsupials will have a far better chance of surviving deadly predation by feral cats and foxes if they are kept in several protected areas instead of a single large area, scientists say.

Fences are a key strategy in the conservation of threatened native species, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. But what do you do if your fence is too successful? 

Australia has more than 37 large conservation fences, enclosing 27 species of bird, marsupial and reptile in more than 35,000 hectares of predator-free habitat.

Read more: When to put all your bilbies in the same basket