CIE Seminar Series 2016 – Today’s conservation challenges: Recovering dynamic communities undergoing complex threats

ayesha-tullochSPEAKER: Dr Ayesha Tulloch, Research Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, College of Medicine, Biology & Environment, Australian National University, Canberra

DATE: Friday, 4th November 2016
LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Burwood Corporate Centre (BCC)
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, room KA4.207; and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.22

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ABSTRACT: Management of threats occurs in complex changing landscapes. Much attention has focused on the individual species inhabiting modified ecosystems, and how they respond to individual or combined processes of change. However, increasing evidence suggests that species do not respond independently to environmental and anthropogenic change; instead, species’ occupancy of the landscape and responses to threats are dynamic, and changes depend on both environmental drivers and the network of associations between species.

In this talk I will describe today’s challenges for conserving species and communities in dynamic environments, and will present some new approaches to resolving these challenges. I will summarise our recent research into understanding how occupancy of the landscape changes across time and space for highly mobile species such as nomadic birds and invasive predators, and what these dynamics mean for managing and monitoring these species.

I will then describe new work on networks of species associations under different environmental conditions and threatening processes that highlights new avenues for accurately identifying decline and recovery of communities in changing ecosystems.

The communities I describe span numerous systems across Australia, from the arid rangelands to endangered box-gum grassy woodland to the threatened fire-prone proteaceous mallee-heath in south-western Australia.

BIO: Ayesha’s research focuses on using ecological knowledge to inform conservation decision-making. Based at the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at the Australian National University, she is a conservation ecologist who has worked in applied management in non-government conservation organisations and academia for 15 years.

She now works primarily in dynamic human-modified landscapes where there are usually multiple threats and conflicting objectives related to both biodiversity and social or economic factors. She has a particular interest in solving conservation problems related to threatened bird communities, fire ecology, and invasive predators, using cross-disciplinary approaches such as network analysis and decision theory.

Ayesha’s work spans theoretical and applied ecology as well as decision-making for both monitoring and managing biodiversity, including Red Listing of Ecosystems, community dynamics and responses to anthropogenic change, prioritising threat mitigation actions for species recovery, monitoring effectiveness, and human-wildlife conflict.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Euan Ritchie.