Addressing uncertainty in impact assessments for alien species
Impact classification schemes for alien taxa are becoming more prominent as the threats posed by biological invasions increase. Our recent study found that despite a high variety of uncertainties occurring in impact assessments, some of which cannot be eliminated easily, communicating their existence, cause and variety can lead to more useful and reliable outcomes of impact assessments. – Read the full article here
If you missed out, you can watch these speakers discuss role of big data in managing Australian biodiversity here – https://youtu.be/zPgtpH8q3Bg
The GEO BON Open Science Conference and All Hands Meeting 2020 was a milestone event that brought together all those involved and interested in the development of Biodiversity Observation Networks and Essential Biodiversity Variables, as well as their potential to support global biodiversity monitoring and conservation post 2020… Read more here.
Melody presented a keynote at the conference titled: What monitoring invasive species as taught us about governing biodiversity knowledge. Watch the keynote here.
Global register aims to curtail the spread of invasive species – Monash Lens
Four decades ago, a small black and yellow wasp skipped across the equator from its native Europe and into Tasmania. Or did it?
The European wasp actually first arrived in New Zealand as early as the 1920s, and may have invaded Australia from there.
It probably travelled along with transport containers and packaging material. This invasive wasp – which stings people, damages crops, affects tourism and can destroy local wildlife – was first reported in Melbourne in the 1970s. Today it’s found across much of Australia.
Read more here – https://lens.monash.edu/2019/03/19/1373673/mapping-invasive-species
Scientists develop new framework for global species monitoring
An international study involving a Monash biologist has outlined a much-needed framework to significantly improve the monitoring of status and trends of species worldwide. This finding comes after a multi-year collaboration under the auspices of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON).
The study is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Changes to biodiversity are already happening with severe potential consequences to all species, including humans, the researchers say.
The loss or invasion of a single species can dramatically alter the function of an entire ecosystem, explained Walter Jetz, lead author and Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and of forestry and environmental studies.
Yet, current information about how and where species populations are changing on the planet remains “woefully inadequate,” according to study co-author Melodie McGeoch of Monash University, Australia.
“It lags far behind scientists’ monitoring of other aspects of environmental change,” she said.
Following in the footsteps of a similar approach in climate science to characterize core information, the researchers first identified “essential variables” for addressing species populations. These are standardized measures that with the aid of other information — such as that gathered by satellite-based remote sensing — and models integrate the often gap-ridden raw species data to give a clear picture of the distribution and abundance of species. The experts then laid out recommended practices that support this framework, such as better data sharing across national borders and enhanced collaboration between the varied parties involved in relevant data collection, from amateurs to government agencies.
“We are on the brink of a new age of sustainable knowledge delivery for life on our planet. As we show here, rapid developments in biodiversity data science and modelling will deliver benefits for decision makers via these essential variables for species populations”, said McGeoch.
“We hope that the presented concept and framework for global species monitoring will lay an important foundation for the collection and use of biodiversity data in support of conservation and resource management worldwide. Any agencies, businesses, conservation organizations, or international bodies concerned with the management of our lands and oceans would benefit from more reliable and representative information about the status and trends of species,” said Jetz.
The study’s suggestions also have the potential to help researchers themselves, he said. Improved global species monitoring would help close knowledge gaps that hinder present research that requires spatial biodiversity information, especially information about parts of the world and the tree of life that are hard to document through current practices.
Other authors include Robert Guralnick, Simon Ferrier, Jan Beck, Mark J. Costello, Miguel Fernandez, Gary N. Geller, Petr Keil, Cory Merow, Carsten Meyer, Frank E. Muller-Karger, Henrique M. Pereira, Eugenie C. Regan, Dirk S. Schmeller, and Eren Turak.
The study was developed with support from GEO BON and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, iDiv. Additional funding was provided by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Jetz, W., McGeoch, M.A., Guralnick, R., Ferrier, S., Beck, J., Costello, M.J., Fernandez, M., Geller, G.N., Keil, P., Merow, C., Meyer, C., Muller-Karger, F.E., Pereira, H.M, Regan, E.C., Schmeller, D.S., Turak, E. 2019. Essential biodiversity variables for mapping and monitoring species populations. Nature Ecology & Evolution. Doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0826-1
Other media releases
News from New Haven
Melodie McGeoch is visiting Walter Jetz and his lab at Yale this semester (https://jetzlab.yale.edu/).
Walter and his group work on patterns and processes in the distribution of the multiple dimensions of biodiversity, and the development of infrastructure and methods to support robust, repeatable analysis of biodiversity information (https://mol.org/species/).
Walter and Melodie co-chair the Species Populations Working Group of GEO BON (https://geobon.org/ebvs/working-groups/species-populations/), and are collaborating on delivering global information on alien and invasive species.
Melodie’s sabbatical visit is supported by Monash University and the Max Planck-Yale Center for Biodiversity Movement and Global Change (https://mpyc.yale.edu/).
New funding for Invasions Indicator Development
Work under the GEOBON Species Populations Working Group (https://geobon.org/ebvs/working-groups/species-populations/) has just received a major boost with funding received by sDiv, the Synthesis Centre of iDiv, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research.
The successful proposal – Theory and Workflows for Alien and Invasive Species Tracking (sTWIST), led by Melodie McGeoch (Monash University) and Marten Winter (iDiv), will integrate theory, frameworks and data to produce alien and invasive species indicators. This work also contributes to the ongoing efforts of the IUCN SSC ISSG (see this Scientific Data article and griis.org ) to improve information and data delivery on alien and invasive species.
The sTWIST Project is supported by an international team of experts in invasion biology, ecoinformatics and biodiversity modelling, and will kickstart with a workshop at iDiv, in Leipzig in August 2018.
Graduation day for Marie Henriksen.
Congratulations Dr. Henriksen on the completion of your PhD! Marie is a network ecologist with a particular interest in the spatial dynamics of networks, network metrics, host-parasitoid networks and biological control.
Our paper on the Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species has been published. Have a look underneath for links to the paper, a ‘Behind the Paper’ blog overview, and some other media coverage.
Behind the Paper blog
What is it, where is it and how do we know? – Country listing of invasive species – Read more here
Other media coverage:
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Press release. – Read more here
IUCN Press release – Read more here
The Guardian – Read more here
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!