School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences - Research Publications

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    Credible biodiversity offsetting needs public national registers to confirm no net loss
    Kujala, H ; Maron, M ; Kennedy, CM ; Evans, MC ; Bull, JW ; Wintle, BA ; Iftekhar, SM ; Selwood, KE ; Beissner, K ; Osborn, D ; Gordon, A (ELSEVIER, 2022-06-17)
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    The predictive performance of process-explicit range change models remains largely untested
    Uribe-Rivera, DE ; Guillera-Arroita, G ; Windecker, SM ; Pliscoff, P ; Wintle, BA (WILEY, 2022-08-18)
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    Eight things you should never do in a monitoring program: an Australian perspective
    Lindenmayer, DB ; Woinarski, J ; Legge, S ; Maron, M ; Garnett, ST ; Lavery, T ; Dielenberg, J ; Wintle, BA (SPRINGER, 2022-10-01)
    Monitoring is critical to gauge the effect of environmental management interventions as well as to measure the effects of human disturbances such as climate change. Recognition of the critical need for monitoring means that, at irregular intervals, recommendations are made for new government-instigated programs or to revamp existing ones. Using insights from past well-intentioned (but sadly also often failed) attempts to establish and maintain government-instigated monitoring programs in Australia, we outline eight things that should never be done in environmental monitoring programs (if they aim to be useful). These are the following: (1) Never commence a new environmental management initiative without also committing to a monitoring program. (2) Never start a monitoring program without clear questions. (3) Never implement a monitoring program without first doing a proper experimental design. (4) Never ignore the importance of matching the purpose and objectives of a monitoring program to the design of that program. (5) Never change the way you monitor something without ensuring new methods can be calibrated with the old ones. (6) Never try to monitor everything. (7) Never collect data without planning to curate and report on it. (8) If possible, avoid starting a monitoring program without the necessary resources secured. To balance our "nevers", we provide a checklist of actions that will increase the chances a monitoring program will actually measure the effectiveness of environmental management. Scientists and resource management practitioners need to be part of a stronger narrative for, and key participants in, well-designed, implemented, and maintained government-led monitoring programs. We argue that monitoring programs should be mandated in threatened species conservation programs and all new environmental management initiatives.
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    Identifying uncertainties in scenarios and models of socio-ecological systems in support of decision-making
    Rounsevell, MDA ; Arneth, A ; Brown, C ; Cheung, WWL ; Gimenez, O ; Holman, I ; Leadley, P ; Lujan, C ; Mahevas, S ; Marechaux, I ; Pelissier, R ; Verburg, PH ; Vieilledent, G ; Wintle, BA ; Shin, Y-J (ELSEVIER, 2021-07-23)
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    Design considerations for rapid biodiversity reconnaissance surveys and long-term monitoring to assess the impact of wildfire
    Southwell, D ; Legge, S ; Woinarski, J ; Lindenmayer, D ; Lavery, T ; Wintle, B (WILEY, 2021-10-20)
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    Developing a two-way learning monitoring program for Mankarr (Greater Bilby) in the Western Desert, Western Australia
    Skroblin, A ; Carboon, T ; Bidu, G ; Taylor, M ; Bidu, N ; Taylor, W ; Taylor, K ; Miller, M ; Robinson, L ; Williams, C ; Chapman, N ; Marney, M ; Marney, C ; Biljabu, J ; Biljabu, L ; Jeffries, P ; Samson, H ; Charles, P ; Game, ET ; Wintle, B (WILEY, 2022-01-01)
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    Monitoring, imperfect detection, and risk optimization of a Tasmanian devil insurance population
    Rout, TM ; Baker, CM ; Huxtable, S ; Wintle, BA (WILEY, 2018-04-01)
    Most species are imperfectly detected during biological surveys, which creates uncertainty around their abundance or presence at a given location. Decision makers managing threatened or pest species are regularly faced with this uncertainty. Wildlife diseases can drive species to extinction; thus, managing species with disease is an important part of conservation. Devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) is one such disease that led to the listing of the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) as endangered. Managers aim to maintain devils in the wild by establishing disease-free insurance populations at isolated sites. Often a resident DFTD-affected population must first be removed. In a successful collaboration between decision scientists and wildlife managers, we used an accessible population model to inform monitoring decisions and facilitate the establishment of an insurance population of devils on Forestier Peninsula. We used a Bayesian catch-effort model to estimate population size of a diseased population from removal and camera trap data. We also analyzed the costs and benefits of declaring the area disease-free prior to reintroduction and establishment of a healthy insurance population. After the monitoring session in May-June 2015, the probability that all devils had been successfully removed was close to 1, even when we accounted for a possible introduction of a devil to the site. Given this high probability and the baseline cost of declaring population absence prematurely, we found it was not cost-effective to carry out any additional monitoring before introducing the insurance population. Considering these results within the broader context of Tasmanian devil management, managers ultimately decided to implement an additional monitoring session before the introduction. This was a conservative decision that accounted for uncertainty in model estimates and for the broader nonmonetary costs of mistakenly declaring the area disease-free.
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    Minimizing species extinctions through strategic planning for conservation fencing
    Ringma, JL ; Wintle, B ; Fuller, RA ; Fisher, D ; Bode, M (WILEY, 2017-10-01)
    Conservation fences are an increasingly common management action, particularly for species threatened by invasive predators. However, unlike many conservation actions, fence networks are expanding in an unsystematic manner, generally as a reaction to local funding opportunities or threats. We conducted a gap analysis of Australia's large predator-exclusion fence network by examining translocation of Australian mammals relative to their extinction risk. To address gaps identified in species representation, we devised a systematic prioritization method for expanding the conservation fence network that explicitly incorporated population viability analysis and minimized expected species' extinctions. The approach was applied to New South Wales, Australia, where the state government intends to expand the existing conservation fence network. Existing protection of species in fenced areas was highly uneven; 67% of predator-sensitive species were unrepresented in the fence network. Our systematic prioritization yielded substantial efficiencies in that it reduced expected number of species extinctions up to 17 times more effectively than ad hoc approaches. The outcome illustrates the importance of governance in coordinating management action when multiple projects have similar objectives and rely on systematic methods rather than expanding networks opportunistically.
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    Extinct or still out there? Disentangling influences on extinction and rediscovery helps to clarify the fate of species on the edge
    Lee, TE ; Fisher, DO ; Blomberg, SP ; Wintle, BA (WILEY, 2017-02-01)
    Each year, two or three species that had been considered to be extinct are rediscovered. Uncertainty about whether or not a species is extinct is common, because rare and highly threatened species are difficult to detect. Biological traits such as body size and range size are expected to be associated with extinction. However, these traits, together with the intensity of search effort, might influence the probability of detection and extinction differently. This makes statistical analysis of extinction and rediscovery challenging. Here, we use a variant of survival analysis known as cure rate modelling to differentiate factors that influence rediscovery from those that influence extinction. We analyse a global data set of 99 mammals that have been categorized as extinct or possibly extinct. We estimate the probability that each of these mammals is still extant and thus estimate the proportion of missing (presumed extinct) mammals that are incorrectly assigned extinction. We find that body mass and population density are predictors of extinction, and body mass and search effort predict rediscovery. In mammals, extinction rate increases with body mass and population density, and these traits act synergistically to greatly elevate extinction rate in large species that also occurred in formerly dense populations. However, when they remain extant, larger-bodied missing species are rediscovered sooner than smaller species. Greater search effort increases the probability of rediscovery in larger species of missing mammals, but has a minimal effect on small species, which take longer to be rediscovered, if extant. By separating the effects of species characteristics on extinction and detection, and using models with the assumption that a proportion of missing species will never be rediscovered, our new approach provides estimates of extinction probability in species with few observation records and scant ecological information.