CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Faster, taller, more – patterns and drivers of plant community change on high-alpine mountain summits

SPEAKER: Dr Sonja Wipf, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Switzerland

DATE: Friday, 22nd March 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre

(Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207 and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (Fishbowl)

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
External parties may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars 52236958@deakin.edu.au [ID.36958] via the methods listed below:

  • For external guests, you can connect as a web guest by clicking HERE. If using Chrome you it will prompt you to install the Cisco Jaba Plugin, then it will prompt you to download the extension which you will need to install. Once this has been installed, you will have a black screen with a call button. You will just need to click call and it should connect into the VMP.
  • For Deakin staff and students, please join via Skype for Business (Lync) – if you have office installed you may already have Skype for business or Lync installed. You just need to look for it on the start menu. If you find it, you can log into skype using your Deakin email and password and then dial 36958.
  • Could not log in? More info on how to connect is available HERE or HERE.
  • Please note that connection is only available while a seminar is taking place.

As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone – thank you!

ABSTRACT.

Climate warming is one of the most prominent driver of community change in regions relatively unaffected by direct human impact. The largely pristine high altitude and high latitude regions of the N hemisphere are warming at much higher rates than the global average.

To investigate how and at which rates global changes affected European high-altitude plant communities over the past century, we assembled a long-term (>100 years) dataset of plant community re-surveys on over 300 European mountain summits. I will present how high-alpine plant communities changed in richness and functional composition, which types of species are prone to local extinctions, and how changes relate to different climate change drivers.

RESEARCH INTERESTS.

Due to the narrow climatic constraints, the strong environmental gradients and the relative naturalness, alpine and arctic ecosystems have been a major playground for generations of researchers. My research deals with the impacts of climate change, agriculture and tourism on alpine and arctic plants and soils, and the interaction between the two.

CURRICULUM.

since 2017: Senior Researcher (currently 50%), team “Mountain Ecosystems” at WSL/SLF Davos

since 2010: Research associate, team “Mountain Ecosystems” at WSL/SLF Davos

2008-2010: PostDoc (75%), Soil Biogeochemistry Group, WSL Birmensdorf

2007-2008: PostDoc, The James Hutton Institute (former Macaulay Institute), Aberdeen, Scotland UK

Appointments with speaker may be made via Susanna Venn (susanna.venn@deakin.edu.au).

For more info: https://www.wsl.ch/de/mitarbeitende/wipf.html

 

A Public Symposium on Integrative Ecology by Research for Educational Impact (REDI)

A Public Symposium on Integrative Ecology brought to you by Research for Educational Impact (REDI).

Registration is now open – click here to register.

Integrative Ecology investigates the living environment. Through this symposium we will showcase researchers who are investigating the mechanisms of immediate and evolutionary response to environmental changes, not just what conditions endanger some species during change.

At Deakin University the Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) combines ecology, evolution, and ecological physiology and research falls into three overlapping focal areas:

  • Environmental change has a direct impact on individual organisms, which is notably studied in the fields of sensory ecology and animal physiology.
  • These responses lead to changes at the level of populations and communities.
  • Environmental change, however, not only results in immediate responses but also imparts variation in selection pressures, ultimately leading to evolutionary change.

Date And Time: Thu., 11 April 2019, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm AEST

Location: Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2 Collins Square, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3008, Australia

A workshop for teachers will be offered in the afternoon, to assist teachers to develop ecology-based activities in the classroom.

A pre-event briefing (9.00 am-10.00 am) will also be held for teachers wishing to attend the classroom workshop, bringing the total event time for teachers to 9.00 am—4.00 pm.

The event will run from 10.00 am—1.00 pm for non-teachers and members of the public.

Registration is now open – click here to register.

Click here to open this file as PDF

CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Fox hunting for conservation? Grouse, red foxes and the effectiveness of predator control

SPEAKER: Jim-Lino Kämmerle, Visiting PhD student, Wildlife Ecology and Management, University of Freiburg, Germany

DATE: Friday, 8th March 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre.

(Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – Room ka4.207 (Green room) and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (Fishbowl).

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
External parties may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars 52236958@deakin.edu.au [ID.36958] via the methods listed below:

  • For external guests, you can connect as a web guest by clicking HERE. If using Chrome you it will prompt you to install the Cisco Jaba Plugin, then it will prompt you to download the extension which you will need to install. Once this has been installed, you will have a black screen with a call button. You will just need to click call and it should connect into the VMP.
  • For Deakin staff and students, please join via Skype for Business (Lync) – if you have office installed you may already have Skype for business or Lync installed. You just need to look for it on the start menu. If you find it, you can log into skype using your Deakin email and password and then dial 36958.
  • Could not log in? More info on how to connect is available HERE or HERE.
  • Please note that connection is only available while a seminar is taking place.

As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone – thank you!

ABSTRACT. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a mammalian mesopredator with global relevance for conservation and often subject to control efforts. One such example comes from grouse conservation in the forest-farmland mosaic landscapes of Europe. Although not threatened at a global scale, many Central European grouse populations are red-listed and suffer from low reproductive success. Predators of eggs and chicks, especially generalist predators that benefit from landscape fragmentation, have been implicated in this development. While intensive control of predator abundance can benefit prey populations, in practice the effectiveness of predator control is rarely quantified, contesting the appropriateness of predator control as a conservation measure. Our current research focusses on this topic, zooming in on a declining remnant population of capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) in the Black Forest, Germany. We first assessed how range contractions of capercaillie in the area may be linked to landscape configuration and predator abundance before looking at potential pathways, the suitability of predator control as a conservation tool and the effectiveness of the currently applied restricted-area culling in lowering fox abundance and predation pressure by foxes.

BIO. Lino is currently with the Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Freiburg in south-western Germany, where he is completing his PhD on the effectiveness of restricted-area fox culls while also conducting a research project with a wider focus. Apart from his doctorate work, Lino works for the State Forest Research Institute (FVA-BW) as a data analyst in a research project studying the effects of wind turbine development on capercaillie. Lino holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and a Bachelor in Wildlife Management. He is interested in applied ecological research with practical relevance at the interface of people and wildlife.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Euan Ritchie (e.ritchie@deakin.edu.au).

For more info: https://www.wildlife.uni-freiburg.de/en/Staff/kaemmerle

CIE Spotlight: Decision-Making in Conservation and Natural Resource Management: Models for Interdisciplinary Approaches

Edited by: Nils Bunnefeld, Emily Nicholson, EJ Milner-Gulland

Source: Conservation Biology (Cambridge University Press), Volume: 22, August 2017

Brief summary of the book: Making decisions about the management and conservation of nature is necessarily complex, with many competing pressures on natural systems, opportunities and benefits for different groups of people and a varying, uncertain social and ecological environment.

An approach which is narrowly focused on either human development or environmental protection cannot deliver sustainable solutions. Decision-Making in Conservation and Natural Resource Management provides frameworks for improving the integration of natural resource management with conservation and supporting stronger collaboration between researchers and practitioners in developed and developing countries.

Novel approaches are required when ecological and social dynamics are highly interdependent. A structured, participatory, model-based approach to decision-making for biodiversity conservation has been proven to produce real-world change. There are surprisingly few successful case studies, however; some of the best are presented here, from fisheries, pest management and conservation. Researchers and practitioners need this interdisciplinary approach, focused on quantitative tools that have been tested and applied, and learning from success.

CIE Spotlight: Virtual palaeontology: the effects of mineral composition and texture of fossil shell and hosting rock on the quality of X-ray microtomography (XMT) outcomes using Palaeozoic brachiopods

Guang S.

Authors: Lee, Sangmin; Shi, G. R.; Park, Tae-Yoon S.; Oh, Jae-Ryong; Mii, Horng-Sheng; Lee, Mirinae

Source: PALAEONTOLOGIA ELECTRONICA, 20 (2):2017

Brief summary of the paper: X-ray microtomography (XMT) has become a popular tool for detailed investigations of a diverse range of fossils. However, XMT has not always guaranteed a satisfactory result, as the resolution of XMT images critically depends on the contrast between the fossil and its hosting rock.

In this paper, XMT was applied to 11 Palaeozoic brachiopod specimens selected from a range of sedimentary rocks in order to investigate the extent of effects of mineral composition and texture in the rock and fossil shell on the quality of XMT outcomes.

Our study shows that sufficient contrast in mineral composition and texture between the brachiopod shell and its infilling material is required to reproduce high-quality XMT results. Specifically, brachiopod specimens with their original calcium carbonate shell, infilled mainly with quartz grains, appear to produce the best XMT results characterized by sharply defined shell internal structures.

We also found that diagenesis is significant in determining the XMT quality. Diagenetic processes including silicification and recrystallization in the brachiopod shell and/or the infilling material generally tends to diminish the resolution of the XMT results, although this impact is considerably complicated by the degree and aspect of diagenesis. Another factor of minor significance concerns the presence of bioclasts scattered in the hosting sediment that potentially could be confused with genuine shell internal structures.

CIE Spotlight: Sediment microbes mediate the impact of nutrient loading on blue carbon sequestration by mixed seagrass meadows

Pic by James St. John

Authors: Liu, Songlin; Jiang, Zhijian; Zhang, Jingping; Wu, Yunchao; Huang, Xiaoping; Macreadie, Peter I.

Source: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 599 1479-1484, DEC 1 2017

Brief summary of the paper: Recent studies have reported significant variability in sediment organic carbon (SOC) storage capacity among seagrass species, but the factors driving this variability are poorly understood, limiting our ability to make informed decisions about which seagrass types are optimal for carbon offsetting and why.

Here we show that differences in SOC storage capacity among species within the same geomorphic environment can be explained (in part) by below-ground processes in response to nutrient load; specifically, differences in the activity of microbes harboured by morphologically-different seagrass species.

We found that increasing nutrient load enhanced the relative contribution of seagrass and algal sources to SOC pools, boosting sediment microbial biomass and extracellular enzyme activity within mixed seagrass meadows composed of Thalassia hemprichii and Enhalus acoroides, and thus possibly weaken the seagrass blue carbon sequestration capacity. The relative contribution of seagrass plant material to sediment bacterial organic carbon (BOC) and the influencing SOC-decomposing enzymes in E. acoroides meadows were half that of T. hemprichii meadows living side-by-side, even though the mixed seagrass meadows received SOC from the same sources.

Overall this research suggests that microbial activity can vary significantly among seagrass species, thereby causing fine-scale (within-meadow) variability in SOC sequestration capacity in response to nutrient load.

CIE Spotlight: The current and future state of animal coloration research

John E.

Authors: Endler, John A.; Mappes, Johanna

Source: PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 372 (1724), JUL 5 2017

Brief summary of the paper: Animal colour patterns are a model system for understanding evolution because they are unusually accessible for study and experimental manipulation. This is possible because their functions are readily identifiable.

In this final paper of the symposium we provide a diagram of the processes affecting colour patterns and use this to summarize their functions and put the other papers in a broad context. This allows us to identify significant ‘holes’ in the field that only become obvious when we see the processes affecting colour patterns, and their interactions, as a whole.

We make suggestions about new directions of research that will enhance our understanding of both the evolution of colour patterns and visual signalling but also illuminate how the evolution of multiple interacting traits works.

This article is part of the themed issue ‘Animal coloration: production, perception, function and application’.

CIE Spotlight: Valley-floor censuses of the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea occidentalis on Komodo Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia, point to a steep population decline over a six-year period

Pic by Ashleigh Thompson

Authors: Imansyah, M. Jeri; Purwandana, Deni; Ariefiandy, Achmad; Benu, Y. Jackson; Jessop, Tim S.; Trainor, Colin R.

Source: FORKTAIL, (32):66-71; December 2016

Brief summary of the paper: The population of the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea occidentalis in Komodo National Park, Komodo Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia, is thought to be second largest, but has been little studied.

In September–October 2005, we surveyed cockatoos from vantage points overlooking five coastal valleys, each one on three consecutive days, and in September 2006 counted cockatoos in Loh Sebita valley on five consecutive days. Our method reduced the possibility of double-counting birds because on each day only the single largest count of cockatoos was used.

We compared our 2005 and 2006 data with population census counts from the same valleys using the same method in September–October 2000. We also collated opportunistic counts of the species on Komodo made between 1996 and 2015 and checked whether temporal trends were apparent between two 10-year periods. Nest and breeding data were also collected. A total of 137 cockatoos was recorded in 2005 compared with 340 in 2000, with census counts declining by an average of 60%.

In Loh Sebita valley the population declined by 41% between 2000 and 2006. A total of 19 active nests was located, with 25 nestlings/ juveniles recorded, mostly in tall and smooth-trunked Sterculia foetida, S. oblongata and Corypha utan trees, which are apparently selected to reduce nest predation.

Vantage point census counts are a suitable method on Komodo because inland topography renders cockatoo flocks easily detectable from ridges, although greater survey effort is needed to reduce margins of error.

The cause(s) of the sharp population decline remain unclear but trade is the most likely driver, with other factors such as breeding failure possibly involved. Annual population and habitat monitoring is needed on Komodo to confirm the causes of decline and specific patrolling is needed to monitor nests.

CIE Spotlight: Variability in the foraging range of Eudyptula minor across breeding sites in central New Zealand

Pic by JJ Harrison

Authors: Poupart, Timothee A.; Waugh, Susan M.; Bost, Caroline; Bost, Charles-Andre; Dennis, Todd; Lane, Reuben; Rogers, Karyne; Sugishita, Junichi; Taylor, Graeme A.; Wilson, Kerry-Jayne; Zhang, Jingjing; Arnould, John P. Y.

Source: NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 44 (3):225-244, 2017

Brief summary of the paper: The little penguin Eudyptula minor is primarily an inshore forager with its range generally limited to c. 30 km of breeding sites during the nesting period. However, exceptions with greater foraging distances have been recorded in Australia.

To investigate the foraging range plasticity in New Zealand we used GPS tracks gathered on 68 individuals in three regions of central New Zealand between 2011 and 2016. Foraging patterns varied between sites and between years. Tracks revealed that penguins can rely on distant foraging areas while incubating, with nesting birds travelling up to 214 km to feed.

Isotope analyses of blood samples showed that this distant food across deep waters (0–200 m) is likely to be squid dominated. During the chick rearing period, birds undertook a diet shift to a higher trophic level while foraging closer to their colony, and possibly near river plumes.

These findings highlight the need to consider the little penguins’ large potential foraging ranges when managing threats and changes to the environment.

CIE Spotlight: Subharmonics increase the auditory impact of female koala rejection calls

Authors: Charlton, Benjamin D.; Watchorn, Darcy J.; Whisson, Desley A.

Source: ETHOLOGY, 128 (8):571-579, AUG 2017

Brief summary of the paper: Although non-linear phenomena are common in human and non-human animal vocalisations, their functional relevance remains poorly understood.

One theory posits that non-linear phenomena generate unpredictability in vocalisations, which increases the auditory impact of vocal signals, and makes animals less likely to habituate to call repetition. Female koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) produce vocal signals when they reject male copulation attempts that contain relatively high levels of non-linear phenomena, and thus may function as attention grabbing vocal signals during the breeding season.

To test this hypothesis, we used playback experiments: firstly, to determine whether female rejection calls induce heightened behavioural responses in free-ranging male koalas during the breeding season, and secondly, to examine how the relative amount of non-linear phenomena in rejection calls influences male behavioural response.

The results show that male koalas look for longer towards speakers broadcasting playback sequences of male bellows followed by a series of female rejection calls than those broadcasting only male bellows. In addition, female rejection call sequences with more subharmonics, higher harmonics-to-noise ratios, and less biphonation produced the greatest male looking responses.

Our findings support the hypothesis that female koala rejection calls function to grab male attention during the breeding season, and indicate that subharmonics are the main acoustic feature that increases the auditory impact of these vocal signals.