Category Archives: New paper

Nature comment on biodiversity offsetting

Some colleagues and I have a Comment piece that has come out today in Nature. The article outlines the risks associated with using offsets to achieve pre-existing commitments, such as those to which nations have committed under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Heritage Convention.

We recommend that while it is often appropriate for offsets to create and manage new protected areas, these outcomes should be accounted for separately from progress towards existing commitments such as the Aichi targets, in order to avoid offsets simply replacing government funding for protected areas. We argue that future international agreements should require separate accounting of conservation gains that were possible only because of equivalent losses, and benefits from the new protected areas funded by offsets should always be reported alongside the losses that triggered their protection.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.nature.com/news/conservation-stop-misuse-of-biodiversity-offsets-1.18010.

Citation: Maron, M., Gordon, A., Mackey, B. G., Possingham, H. P. and Watson, J. E. M. 2015. Stop misuse of biodiversity offsets. Nature 523, 401–403; doi:10.1038/523401a

In addition the ABC has written an article on this topic which you can see here: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/07/23/4278534.htm

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The conservation value of urban green space habitats for Australian native bee communities

Luis Mata's research

This post is about a new paper titled ‘The conservation value of urban green space habitats for Australian native bee communities’ we have recently published in Biological Conservation that assesses whether networks of urban green spaces can be managed to provide bee habitat in urban landscapes.

We set out to address this question by exploring the distribution patterns of 19 bee species in south-eastern Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), including both native species, such as the short-tongued ground-nesting bees Homalictus sphecodoides and Lasioglossum brunnesetum, and exotic species, such as the European Honeybee Apis mellifera.

Homalictus sphecodoides (Reiner Richter - BowerBird)

Lasioglossum brunnesetum (Reiner Richter - BowerBird)

Apis mellifera The short-tongued ground-nesting native Australian bees Homalictus sphecodoides (Top) and Lasioglossum brunnesetum (Middle), and the exotic European Honeybee Apis mellifera (Bottom). Photos by Reiner Richter (top and middle) and myself (bottom). Native species identified by Ken Walker.

We found that providing resources critical to diverse bee communities (eg, native plants) can assist in maintaining…

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Could perverse incentives undermine biodiversity offset policies?

We’ve just had a published in Journal of Applied Ecology that examines potential perverse incentives resulting from biodiversity offsetting. We outline some of the ways in which even best-practice offsetting could end up being bad for biodiversity, and discuss how to reduce the risks of perverse outcomes.

The paper is available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12398/abstract

Conserving insect assemblages in urban landscapes: accounting for species-specific responses and imperfect detection

Luis Mata's research

This post is a about a new paper in the Journal of Insect Conservation.

Using the El Maresme shire (north-eastern Spain) as the study area and heteropteran bugs as model organisms, my colleagues (Marta Goula & Amy Hahs) and I set out to explore the effects of urbanization on insects.

An illustration of the brachypterous form of Ischnodemus sabuleti (Fallén, 1826) by Aleksandar Stojanović. An illustration of the brachypterous form of Ischnodemus sabuleti (Fallén, 1826) by Aleksandar Stojanović.

I was especially impressed by the large diversity of bugs species that we found in our survey. The field work yielded 142 different species of heteropteran bugs. Since the heteropteran bug gamma diversity of El Maresme is known to be  323 species1, we can estimate that our study collected detection and occupancy data for almost 45% of the heteropteran bug species known to the region. Among these species was the ash-grey leafbug Piesma maculatum (Laporte, 1833), a species that had not been seen in El…

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Detectability, threatened species and environmental impact assessments

Georgia Garrard

This blog post is about an upcoming paper in Conservation Biology.

It is now widely accepted that many species are not perfectly detectable during an ecological survey. This means that, sometimes, a species that is present at a site will not be detected by an observer (or observers) during a survey of that site.

The probability that the species will be detected if it is present (its ‘detectability’) is influenced by many factors. One of the most important factors is the level of effort put into the survey – in general, the more effort that is expended, the higher the chance of detecting the species.

Detectability curve showing how the probability of detecting a species when it is present increases with survey effort Detectability curve showing how the probability of detecting a species when it is present increases with survey effort

But why do we care? Well, there are many reasons. Imperfect detectability affects our ability to determine a range of important ecological metrics, such as the…

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Biodiversity offsets could be locking in species decline

Biodiversity offset policies are an increasingly common part of biodiversity conservation strategies in Australia and around the world.  But how well do they work?  Ascelin Gordon and Martine Maron explain how biodiversity offsets may – perversely – provide an incentive for the continuing decline of the species they are designed to protect.

Read about it here.