CIE Seminar Series 2017 – Island eradications: prioritisations, bioindicators and ecosystem monitoring

SPEAKER: Dr Justine Shaw, Research Fellow, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland

DATE: Friday, 11th August 2017
LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood – Burwood Corporate Centre (attendees-please report to reception for room details on the day)
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: Island eradications are becoming more common and more successful. Pest eradications have been undertaken on over 700 islands globally. More and more species are benefitting from these conservation actions. As technological abilities increase, decision science and ecosystem monitoring need to expand and improve to effectively implement large-scale and complex island management. I will present some of my recent work on prioritizing actions for islands, principally “which island do we choose, and what do we target?” I’ll summarize some preliminary findings on island prioritizations involving multiple target species across hundreds of islands.

Once projects have been chosen and successfully implemented we are then faced with evaluating their efficacy in restoring ecosystem structure and function.  Our recent work on Macquarie Island is a good example of this process, where we are utilizing existing long-term datasets (some over 30 years old) and are undertaking new fieldwork. We’ve identified sites, species and environmental parameters for tracking ecosystem change into the future including habitat recovery and prey switching following rabbit, cat, mouse and rat eradication. I’ll highlight one of our biggest challenges in this work – how to address shifting baselines and their role in monitoring large scale conservation projects. Human-induced ecological change spans much longer periods of time than most formal monitoring data. Therefore, to understand the magnitude and dynamics of past ecosystem change, we need to seek data on past change from alternative sources.

BIO: Justine Shaw is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland. Her research focus is the conservation of island ecosystems and terrestrial Antarctica. Justine is interested in understanding the way in which species interact with each other and their role in ecosystem function. She is currently examining the risks posed by non-native species to Antarctic protected areas, examining the interactions between indigenous and non-native species and investigating how invasive species influence island ecosystems, in particular the impacts on threatened species. Her research focuses on informing management.  She is interested in ways of dealing with ecosystem uncertainty in large scale eradication attempts.  Justine has been working on sub-Antarctic islands for 19 years.  Her current research is funded through the National Environmental Science Program, Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Tim Doherty.