News

May 2017

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.

Read more on the Official blog of Methods in Ecology and Evolution

 

May 2017

Capturing the Contribution of Rare and Common Species to Turnover: A Multi-Site Version of Generalised Dissimilarity Modelling. 

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.

Read more on the Official blog of Methods in Ecology and Evolution

March 2017

Chance discovery triples critically endangered plant population

The delicate ‘terminal’ flowers and fleshy leaves distinguish Galium antarcticum from other Galium species. (Photo: Alex Fergus)

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

 

February 2017 

Field work kicks off to better understand patterns of dieback in the Macquarie Cushion

In December 2016 project team members Dr Dana Bergstrom (AAD), Dr Jennie Whinam (UTas) and Cath Dickson (PhD student, Monash) began field work on Macquarie Island to determine the distribution and abundance of potential refugia for Azorella macquariensis. December 2016 set three monthly weather records, which resulted in a very wet, windy start to the field season. However, despite the weather the team succesfully established half of the temperature and humidity data-loggers and refined the field methods before the New Year. – Read more about the project here

December 2016 

data-fitness-coverExperts outline strategy for improving alien species information
An expert task group has recommended steps for ensuring that GBIF provides sustainable, reliable, timely and accessible data on alien and invasive species and contributes to long-term management of this key threat to biodiversity. – Read more about the report here

November 2016

apcc_11_crdickson_poster1PhD student Cath Dickson recently presented a poster on Nowhere to hide? Conservation options for the sub-Antarctic Macquarie cushions. Developing the evidence base for management at the 11th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference.  Cath investigated the response of the Azorella genus to climate change across the sub-Antarctic and South American sub-continent.
The scientific evidence for the Azorella genus and fellfield ecosystem’s response to climate is comparatively limited.  However, Azorella condition will likely be highest in areas of lower potential evapotranspiration under climate change scenarios.  The poster won the Student Poster Prize for the conference.  The biennial conference’s theme was New Approaches to Plant Conservation Challenges in the Modern World, stimulating important discussions on integrating science and management to meet the challenges from increasing urbanisation, small populations and land-use intensification under changing climates.

August 2016 

Survey seeks input on using and publishing data on invasive alien species

gbifThe 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.

Take the survey now

June 2016

Invasive alien species task group launched

GBIF logo

Experts convened by GBIF will make recommendations on how data shared through the network can best serve the needs of research into invasive alien species (IAS). The Task group on data fitness for use in research into invasive alien species will gather views from specialists around the world on the data currently available to further such research, and how it may be enhanced. – Read more on the GBIF news site here 

 

March-April 2016

 

Guillaume Latombe recently came back from visiting Cang Hui (collaborator and Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Stellenbosch University)’s lab in South Africa over three weeks, thanks to a travel grant from the Department of Biological Sciences of Monash University. This was a fruitful visit, during which Guillaume and Cang advanced several pieces of work, including the development of zeta-diversity (Hui & McGeoch 2014) and of the Community Assembly Phase Space (CAPS; Latombe et al. 2015), and worked on some new research.
SANUM 2016
Guillaume also attended the South African Symposium of Numerical and Applied Mathematics (SANUM) 2016 conference where he presented the CAPS to mathematicians, and gave seminars on the use of emergence in ecological modelling at the Department of Botany and Zoology of Stellenbosch University, and at the Department of Statistical Sciences at University of Cape Town.
This trip ended with a visit to Dr. Bernard Coetzee from the Organization for Tropical Studies in Skukuza, in the Kruger National Park, where Guillaume gave a talk on ecological modelling to undergraduates from Duke University (USA) enrolled in the African Ecology & Conservation Program.

December 2015

Its been Conference and Collaborator season.
ESA DinnerCang Hui (collaborator and Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Stellenbosch University) visited the group for three weeks on our joint Discovery Project on the long-term consequences of multispecies invasion. One week at Monash University and the following two at the Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference in Adelaide (29 Nov-3 December 2015), and the EcoStats Conference (co-organised by Melodie) at UNSW in Sydney.

 

The latter two meetinESAgs provided a great opportunity to profile the value and application of zeta diversity (Hui & McGeoch 2014) and Melodie, Cang, Guillaume Latombe (Monash Unviersity) and Mariona Roige (Lincoln University) all presented work on zeta diversity and its broad range of potential applications, including its use in pest risk assessment.

 

October 2015

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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

http://eco-stats15.blogspot.com.au/

 

August 2015

abcRadio logo

”Keeping on top of invasive species”  – Radio Inverview

Listen to it here – http://www.abc.net.au/

 

June 2015monaco-flag

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco supports conservation assessment

Read more about the The Monaco Assessment meeting here.

 

 

Zeta-diversity R packageRlogo

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.

 

March, 2015

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.

LINK TO WORKSHOP REPORT IN BLACKLISTING PAGE

Geobon workshop

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

 

February 2015

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.

Mariona Roige

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2014

The decennial IUCN World Parks Congress was held in Sydney over the last 8 days.
Melodie presented on in situ monitoring inside and outside protected areas in a session organised by GEO BON and the Zoological Society of London, and chaired the concluding panel discussion on the subject.
Take a look at the Promise of Sydney which sets the direction for protected areas globally for the next decade. http://worldparkscongress.org/about/promise_of_sydney_vision.html
 IUCN World Parks Congress - Russia IUCN World Parks Congress - Russia 2
Melodie along with Russian delegates at the display profiling the over 15000 protected areas, including 47 national parks, in Russia.

November 2014

Denis and Maisie Carr Award & Travel Grant
Chris was the recipient of the Denis and Maisie Carr Award and Travel Grant, an award given in recognition of the careers and work of husband-wife ecologists Denis and Maisie Carr. The award and grant of $5000 was given to support original botanical research involving the investigation of native Australian plants by field work. This is the first year Monash University has presented the award.

Chris.CarrAward

 

October 2014

ESA 2014 –  Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference in Alice Springs

ice_breaker

Two of us presented at the Alice Springs meeting last week.

Melodie presented the AERA Lecture on Monday titled “Smart heuristics for applied ecology”.

talk

and Guillaume spoke on Tuesday about “Disentangling the interactions between neutral and niche processes using the filter paradigm”.  – Read the Abstract here 

 

August 2014

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.earthobservations.org/geobon_ebv.shtml ] for biodiversity monitoring. For more information on this international collaboration see Special Projects Page.

Extract from GEO BON Newsletter July 2014
GEO BON’s call for “EBV-relevant data  products and monitoring guidelines” very well received

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.


June 2014

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.

June 2014

Diane Srivastava (University of British Columbia) adding a buzz to our lab group discussions while on sabbatical at Monash.

Diane Srivastava visit

May 2014

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! 

 Chris Award 1     Chris Award 2