News

Flaming wild seeds finalist - WA Innovator of the Year

ERIE’s long-time research collaborator, Dr Todd Erickson and colleagues have become finalists in the WA Innovator of the Year Competition, recognised for their new technique for flaming wild seeds for use in land restoration. In a recent article in Restoration Ecology, the authors investigated the application of a ‘flash-flaming’ device to remove floret appendages from native grass seed, with the aim to reduce or remove common impediments to effective seed use in restoration activities. By developing an effective flash flaming technique, it was shown that bulk density of floret batches increased, application of polymer coatings was more effective and germination was enhanced. Guzzomi, A. L. et al (2016) Flash flaming effectively removes appendages and improves the seed coating potential of grass florets. Restoration Ecology 24:S98–S105. doi:10.1111/rec.12386

Honorary Membership to the ESA (May 16)

Congratulations to Prof Richard Hobbs who has been recognised for his exceptional contribution to the field of ecology with Honorary Membership of the prestigious Ecological Society of America. Further Information

Highly Cited Researcher 2015 (Feb 16)

Congratulations to Prof Richard Hobbs who has been named a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher. Thomson Reuters' mission is to recognize and support excellence in the scholarly community. Citation data is analyzed over an 11-year period using Thomson Reuters Web of ScienceTM and InCitesTM to identify some of the best and brightest scientific minds of our time. Richard was selected as a Highly Cited Researcher due to the number of citations his work has received from fellow researchers. Essentially, peers have identified the contributions as being among the most valuable and significant in the field of Environment/Ecology. In addition, further recognition of Richard's accomplishments has been recognised in being listed in the 2015 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. Further Information

Ecological Society of America Centennial paper on advances in restoration ecology (Sep 15)

A paper written by a group of WA ecologists, has recently been published examining advances and challenges for restoration ecology. The review examines the context of changing restoration goals, which reflect increased societal awareness of the scale of environmental degradation and the recognition that inter-disciplinary approaches are needed to tackle environmental problems. Restoration ecology now encompasses facilitative interactions and network dynamics, trophic cascades, and above- and belowground linkages. It operates in a non-equilibrium, alternative states framework, at the landscape scale, and in response to changing environmental, economic and social conditions. Ongoing challenges include setting realistic, socially acceptable goals for restoration under changing environmental conditions, and prioritizing actions in an increasingly space-competitive world. Perring, M.P., Standish, R.J., Price, J.N., Craig, M.D., Erickson, T.E., Ruthrof, K.X., Whiteley, A.S., Valentine, L.E. and Hobbs, R.J. 2015. Advances in restoration ecology: Rising to the challenges of the coming decades. Ecosphere Volume 6(8): Article 131 http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES15-00121.1

The Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos of WA need to drink water daily (Aug 15)

They are endemic to an area that has experienced major declines in rainfall over the last 40 years. How & where do they obtain their daily drink? This is a question that ERIE Researcher Dr Mike Craig has been studying via observations and motion-sensitive cameras with some very interesting results and more questions ….. See some great photos over on our facebook page.

Off to ESA Baltimore

PhD candidate, Bridget Johnson recently presented at the ESA Meeting in Baltimore - her blog about it is a great read, see it over on our facebook page.

Melinda Moir successfully nominates another endangered plant louse (13/1/15)

Mick McCarthy's plant-louse is set to join Peter Vesk’s plant-louse on the IUCN red list. Acizzia mccarthyi (McCarthy’s plant-louse), a threatened bug from the southwest biodiversity hotspot of Western Australia, has been accepted for listing on the 2015 IUCN red list as Endangered, after nomination by Melinda Moir. Also accepted for 2015 are the critically endangered Trioza barrettae (Sarah Barrett’s plant-louse) and Pseudococcus markharveyi (Mark Harvey’s mealybug) from the southwest. They join Acizzia veski on the list (read more), all of which are threatened primarily by coextinction; loss of a dependent species with a change in the population size of a threatened host.

Jodi Price and Rachel Standish collect first data from Pingelly (16/12/14)

Jodi Price and Rachel Standish, with help from Tim Morald and others, have collected the first round of data since fencing and fertilising plots at their ‘NutNet’ site in Pingelly, a small wheatbelt town in south-western Australia. Pingelly Paddock is one of many Australian sites to be added to the global network of experimental sites since Elizabeth Borer and Eric Seabloom hosted a 2013 workshop in Brisbane to encourage membership. Surprisingly, treatment effects were apparent at Pingelly already, only 6 months after the fences were installed and the fertilisers were applied. Above ground biomass was higher in plots that were fenced and fertilised with nitrogen, phosphorus and micronutrients compared with plots that were unfertilised and open to grazing by rabbits, kangaroos and goats. Jodi and Rachel eagerly await the inclusion of their data in the next meta-analysis!

Jarrah forest resists changes in climate (15/12/14)

A long-term study into jarrah forest (Eucalyptus marginata) establishment at restored mine sites has found that they are in fact resistant to climate variability. read more

Galapagos invasion is global warning (3/9/14)

A new study led by group member, Mandy Trueman, revealed that parts of the iconic Galapagos Islands have been overrun by invasive plants from other parts of the world. read more

Michael Wysong on ‘The Truth About Cats and Dogs’ (2/9/14)

The Department of Parks and Wildlife recently completed their annual Eradicat aerial baiting of Lorna Glen Reserve; a 244,000 ha reserve in the central arid rangelands of WA managed jointly by the Department and the Wiluna aboriginal community. PhD student, Michael Wysong, collared 16 dingoes and 21 feral cats prior to this baiting event as part of his research on the relationship between these two predators. While post-bait spatial data is still being collected, the pre-bait data showed that there was strong habitat segregation between the two predators. This habitat segregation was exciting and was not observed from the camera trap study conducted at the same time last year. Michael presented the results of these two studies at the annual Australian Mammal Society Conference in Melbourne in July of this year. Michael is headed back to Lorna Glen this month to collect camera traps which have been deployed prior to and following the baiting period. He will use this data, together with the GPS collar data, to examine how the activities and occupancies of these two species are affected by the Eradicat baiting. DBytes #164

Melinda Moir on ‘What has bug poo got to do with invasive ants?’ (26/8/14)

Melinda Moir and collaborators at James Cook University and CSIRO are uncovering the mechanisms behind the success of invasive yellow crazy ant in Arnhem Land (Northern Territory) and New Caledonia. Preliminary results indicate that carbohydrate availability (as honeydew, or as kids like to describe it, bug poo) correlates with ant abundance and trophic position. These results have been presented at two conferences last month; the Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, and the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. In relation to this study, Melinda is also constructing a standardized method to determine the presence of honeydew. DBytes #163

A new editorial office for Restoration Ecology (26/3/14)

After ten years, Prof Richard Hobbs and Assoc Prof Sue Yates have stood down as the Editor and Managing Editor of the journal "Restoration Ecology". The role of Editor has now passed to Stephen Murphy of University of Waterloo. SER Tweets One, Two

The trouble with offsets (16/3/14)

"Environmental offsets are supposed to compensate for ecosystems and biodiversity that are bulldozed to make way for development. But there’s mounting evidence the policy is being subverted ... " ABC Radio 16 March. Prof Richard Hobbs was interviewed for this piece by Jonathan Green. Listen or read the transcript at ABC News.

What's up with wildflowers in the Wheatbelt? (26/2/14)

Over the last three years a project has been studying how human activities alter the way natural plant communities form, often leading to novel plant communities comprised of natives and exotics. Fortunately, we have access to a beautiful study system, the York gum woodlands in southwestern Australia. read more

Restoring a Future: the Ridgefield Tree Experiment

This experiment consists of a long-term study of ecological restoration to examine how different combinations of planted tree & shrub species perform services, such as carbon sequestration, in the face of ongoing environmental change. This is one of the biggest such experiments in Australia. It aims for a lifespan of at least 50 years, providing a much needed long-term experimental platform and a “living legacy” of research investment. read more (PDF flyer)

Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order

A new book has been released which brings together researchers from a range of disciplines together with practitioners and policy makers to explore the questions surrounding novel ecosystems. It includes chapters on key concepts and methodologies for deciding when and how to intervene in systems, as well as a rich collection of case studies and perspective pieces. It will be a valuable resource for researchers, managers and policy makers interested in the question of how humanity manages and restores ecosystems in a rapidly changing world. The book has been published through Wiley (link) and includes a student companion website with downloads and other resources (link).

Primed for a Change

Ten years ago the Society for Ecological Restoration published a ‘Primer for Ecological Restoration’. It was regarded as a foundational document for the new field of ecological restoration. EDG researchers recently led a review of this Primer to examine how things have changed since then. Read the Research Brief

ERIE Welcomes New Staff Members

In August and November 2012, ERIE welcomed 3 new post-doc research fellows to UWA; Dr Leonie Valentine, Dr Melinda Moir and Dr Jodi Price have all joined the group, and along with Dr Rachel Standish will undertake projects identified under UWA's commitment to EDG.

Caught in a (WA) minefield (Prof R. Hobbs)

While the magnitude of past and future change is increasingly apparent, how to go about managing Western Australian ecosystems in the face of such change seems fraught with contention. read the full article in Decision Point No. 61.

Uniform burning strategy not best for reptile diversity (Dr L. Valentine)

SECTIONS of older forest habitat in WA should be excluded from burning by the Department of Environment and Conservation to promote reptile diversity, according to a Murdoch University research paper. read the full article on ScienceNetwork WA

Tipping Point for Cockatoos in Perth (Dr R. Standish)

Banksia woodlands and pine plantations on the Swan Coastal Plain are critical foraging habitat for Carnaby’s black cockatoo. Banksia woodland is being cleared for development and most pine plantations will be harvested without replacement over the next 14 years. read the 1 page synthesis (pdf)

Eric Higgs & Richard Hobbs on Boyagin RockVisit by Prof Eric Higgs

Prof Eric Higgs from University of Victoria, Canada, is currently visiting UWA and the ERIE Research Group in the capacity of IAS Professor-at-Large program for 2012. During his visit, in May/June, Eric carried out a Masterclass, entitled "Novel Ecosystems: Why Worry?" and presented a Public Lecture "History, Novelty and Virtue in Ecological Restoration", as well as furthering collaboration with members of ERIE.

Right: Profs Eric Higgs & Richard Hobbs at Boyagin Rock Nature Reserve > more

 

Elephants for the bush?

Respected Australian ecologist Prof David Bowman suggested in a recent opinion piece published in Nature (482,30 (02 February 2012) doi:10.1038/482030a), that elephants be introduced to the Australian bush. This has sparked a number of articles and conversation; for example, article links: ABC, Don Driscoll, Australian Geographic, Tom Lawrie, and SMH, Matthew Cawood. Prof Richard Hobbs was interviewed in artciles as a follow-up; for example, article links: SMH, Nicky Phillips and ABC, Anna Salleh.

PhD candidate, Cristina Estima Ramalho interviewed for BBC Science & Environment

Urban ecology model 'needs to change'. The way researchers assess urban ecology needs to change in order to take into account the way modern cities are developing, a study suggests. read the entire article at the BBC

Research Associate, Lori Lach interviewed for NewScientist

New Zealand's invasive ants mysteriously vanish. read the entire article at NewScientist

2011 Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank

One of the privileges of being an academic is the opportunity to meet and talk with other ecologists. ERIE Research Group member, Dr Rachel Standish, was afforded this privilege recently as an invited participant to the 2011 Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank.

Each year since 2002, the Australian Academy of Science has a held a think tank to bring together early and mid career researchers to discuss issues of national significance. This year, participants discussed new approaches for understanding and managing stressed ecosystems. Participants were assigned to groups depending on their knowledge of one of four stressed ecosystems:

While the nature of the stresses and their impacts differed among the four ecosystems some common themes emerged. It was clear that good management decisions needed to incorporate both ecological and social values. Models, both quantitative and qualitative, offered a framework for assessing current knowledge and assessing the consequences of different management actions. In particular, scenario models were identified as a creative way to re-imagine the future of these stressed ecosystems. Finally, the importance of clear and simple guidelines for policy emerged, and participants were asked to distill their conversations into a few simple recommendations for policymakers and suggested priorities for future research. These recommendations will be forwarded to the appropriate ministers for potential implementation. Surely a rewarding outcome for a 2-day workshop!

Novel ecosystems : When and how do we intervene in the new ecological world order?

Novel Ecosystems Workshop (24-26 May 2011 Canada)

The idea of novel ecosystems, or systems arising because of novel species combinations and/or new environmental conditions, has become widely discussed in the ecological literature. Such systems pose immense challenges scientifically and ethically, and also from a practical and policy perspective. While there is a lot of discussion, there is, to date, little concrete advice to give to managers and policy makers on how to deal with these systems. This workshop brings together selected researchers from a variety of disciplines and also managers and policy makers who are confronting the issues surrounding novel ecosystems and how we intervene in such ecosystems in a meaningful and effective way. The residential workshop will explore the various elements of the issue and discuss illustrative case studies.

Restoration Institute 2011 (27-28 May 2011 Canada)

The Restoration Institute is a joint initiative of University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies and Restoration of Natural Systems Program to foster an international dialogue on emerging issues in the field of ecological restoration.

This year’s Restoration Institute, held in partnership with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and the University of Western Australia’s Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology Research Group (ERIE), will bring together ecosystem experts and policy-makers from around the world to discuss the practical and policy issues arising from novel or no-analogue ecosystems. Participants from Australia, UK, Europe, North America, and South America will exchange real world examples of novel ecosystems and discuss their policy implications, and consider what “novelty” means for the future of ecological restoration. visit web-site

The Woodlands Declaration by 50 leading scientistis (20/1/2010)

"An open letter to Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett and Western Australian Environment Minister Donna Faragher. We, the undersigned Australian and international scientists, write to you concerning the future of the Great Western Woodlands. Securing long term conservation is essential for this internationally important and biologically rich landscape". Read the entire letter

 
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