The Right Tool for the Job: Using Zeta Diversity to Communicate Uncertainty in Ecological Modelling
Despite how far modelling has taken us in science, the use of models remains controversial. Modelling covers a huge range of common practices, from scaled models of ships to determine the shape that will have the least resistance to water to complex, comprehensive ‘models of everything’. A great example of the latter is the Earth System Model. This model aims to understand the changes in global climate by taking into account the interaction between physical climate, biosphere, the atmosphere and the oceans. Basically, a model of how the Earth works.
Understanding how biodiversity is distributed and its relationship with the environment is crucial for conservation assessment. It also helps us to predict impacts of environmental changes and design appropriate management plans.
Chance discovery triples critically endangered plant population
A new population of a critically endangered plant species has been discovered on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, tripling the previously known population to some 1500 plants.
The tiny, herbaceous Galium antarcticum (‘sub-Antarctic bedstraw’), was recently discovered by chance at Skua Lake, near the central west coast of the Island, by Monash University PhD student Cath Dickson. – Read more here
Field work kicks off to better understand patterns of dieback in the Macquarie Cushion
Survey seeks input on using and publishing data on invasive alien species
The GBIF task group on data fitness for use in research on invasive alien species (IAS) is seeking survey responses from data users and data holders intended to help improve both the suitability and the access to data for use in invasion biology and related fields.
Through the 21-question survey, which should take 15-20 minutes to complete, the task group aims to document limitations in existing GBIF services, improve the utility of GBIF-mediated data and get suggestions on functional improvements needed to support better IAS-related research.
Eco-Stats ’15: Technological advances between Ecology and Statistics – Early bird deadline closing soon!
8-10 December 2015 – the week after ESA!
The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Register now – early-bird rates close Friday October 23rd
Ecologists and statisticians have much to gain from working together, and this conference is designed to provide precisely such an opportunity. This conference is a follow-up to the 2013 meeting*, and has been designed as a collaborative forum for researchers with interests in ecology, statistics, or both. Formal proceedings will start on December 8th with “Skills-Building Day”, a series of computer-based tutorials run across topics spanning the interests of conference speakers.
Then world leaders from ecology and statistics have been paired up to present their own perspectives on six topical issues (analysis of metagenomics data in ecology, occupancy modelling with imperfect detection, analysing counts along stream networks, modern capture-recapture, estimating biodiversity turnover, and modelling strategic behaviour during animal combat), and round-table discussions will workshop opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration on these topics. Also featured will be a contributed poster session where participants can turn the topic of conversation to their own research. Invited speakers include:
– Otso Ovaskainen (University Helsinki)
– Douglas Yu (University of East Anglia)
– Darryl Mackenzie (Proteus Wildlife Research Consulting)
– Jay ver Hoef (NOAA Alaska)
– Melodie McGeoch, Paul Sunnucks (Monash University)
– Cang Hui (Stellenbosch University)
Further details at http://www.eco-stats.unsw.edu.au/ecostats15.html
Want to present in the poster session? Abstract submission deadline extended, closes October 23rd.
Already coming and want to study up on our speakers? Visit the study blog for speaker reading list and discussion
”Keeping on top of invasive species” – Radio Inverview
Listen to it here – http://www.abc.net.au/
Read more about the The Monaco Assessment meeting here.
The “zetadiv” R package, which contains functions to compute compositional turnover using zeta-diversity, the number of species shared by multiple assemblages, is now available on CRAN (http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/zetadiv/).
The package includes a Zeta.order() function to compute zeta-diversity for a specific number of assemblages, and a Zeta.decline() function to compute zeta-diversity for a range of numbers of assemblages.
It also includes additional functions to explain how zeta-diversity varies with distance and with differences of environ- mental variables between assemblages, using linear regressions and generalized additive models.
GEO BON Workshop 2 – 4th March, 2015, Leipzig, Germany
Towards a global system for assessing, monitoring and reporting on biological invasions
Invasive alien species cost the taxpayer billions each year and are second only to habitat transformation in documented severity of impacts on biodiversity. Despite this, there is currently no system in place for the systematic evaluation and monitoring of invasive alien species. To improve knowledge and information in this field, Melodie McGeoch (Monash University, Australia) and Piero Genovesi (IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group) organised a workshop in close collaboration with GEO BON and iDiv. Participants worked towards three main aims: First, to identify and agree on a minimum set of Essential Biodiversity Variables to form the basis of a global observation system for biological invasions. Second, to develop guidelines for national schemes to support impact classification and Aichi Target 9 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020). Third, to progress implementation of the IUCN alien impact classification scheme.
Participants (from left to right): Miguel Fernandez, Guilluame Latombe, Marten Winter, John Wilson, Jan Pergl, Donald Hobern, Petr Pyšek, Jonathan Jeschke, Melodie McGeoch, Tim Blackburn, Sabrina Kumschick, Sven Bacher, Riccardo Scalera, Piero Genovesi, Junko Shimura, César Capinha, Helen Roy, Cang Hui
PhD candidate Mariona Roigé visits the McGeoch Lab
Mariona is a PhD candidate from Lincoln University (New Zealand) focussing her research on the structure of global invasive species assemblages and their relationship to regional habitat variables. She was recently awarded the Bio-Protection Research Centre travel grant (Lincoln University) which is designed to support high achieving postgraduate students to develop a network of collaborations and research links. During her three-week stay Mariona presented her research, involved herself with the work of the other PhD students and staff of the McGeoch lab and engaged in interesting and productive discussions about potential collaborative projects between the two research teams. The overall outcome of Mariona’s stay is an ongoing collaborative project developing an analytical approach to prioritise invasive species in terms of their risk.
ESA 2014 – Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference in Alice Springs
Two of us presented at the Alice Springs meeting last week.
Melodie presented the AERA Lecture on Monday titled “Smart heuristics for applied ecology”.
and Guillaume spoke on Tuesday about “Disentangling the interactions between neutral and niche processes using the filter paradigm”. – Read the Abstract here
The project “Black Listing Invasive Species for Monitoring and Reporting” has received support from GEO BON, as part of their activities to illustrate the value of Essential Biodiversity Variables [http://www.
In April 2014, GEO BON announced its first open call for small projects to support the developments of EBV’s and monitoring guidelines. Twenty-four excellent proposals had been submitted from all over the world asking together for about 1.2 Million Euro. But sadly, only about 120.000 Euro were available for this call. We had three, very serious selection rounds and applied different criteria. To find a consensus on which projects to support was really a challenge.
Finally, we selected these five proposals:
- Black Listing Invasive Species for Monitoring and Reporting submitted by Monash University
- BON in a Box submitted by the Humboldt Institute,
- Developing guidelines for standardised global butterfly monitoring, submitted by UNEP-WCMC and Dutch Butterfly Conservation
- Finalizing, visualizing and communicating global remote-sensing supported species EBVs and change indicators submitted by Yale University.
- Remote sensing of Essential Biodiversity Variables submitted by Twente University
Meanwhile we have started the negotiations with the institutes winning the competition and the GEO BON community will be regularly updated on the success of these GEO BON projects.
The McGeoch Research Group was awarded two Parks Victoria Research Partners Program (RPP) grants. The RPP is designed to encourage and support research on park management and conduct applied research to improve park management and ecological understanding. – Read more here
The projects will involve research on (1) the biocontrol of Sallow Wattle in the Grampians National Park and (2) a decision support framework for invasion management priorities within and across parks in Victoria.
Diane Srivastava (University of British Columbia) adding a buzz to our lab group discussions while on sabbatical at Monash.
Chris McGrannachan awarded Bill Borthwick Scholarship for his PhD on the functional consequences of multispecies invasion.
Victorian Environmental Assessment Council. Royal Society of Victoria, Melbourne. Congratulations Chris!