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The last few months have been quite hectic for ACEAS. We started the year with a cyclone, which left the participants in the working group Tracing spatial and temporal scales in aquatic connectivity using novel approaches holed up for a couple of days at various hotels and threatened homes around Brisbane (only Simon Jennings made it to Stradbroke at the nominated time where he was in solitary splendour for a couple of days). Eventually most of us travelled across in idyllic weather to start only a couple of hours late! Since then we have had many meetings, mainly at North Stradbroke Island, all accompanied by Sonia’s wonderful catering. Do visit the Synthesis Groups page and check out the various meeting reports to see the great work achieved in the beginning of 2013 around many topics.

ACEAS June Newsletter
 
Of course one of the biggest events for TERN in any year is the TERN Symposium. At the Symposium in 2013 ACEAS was charged with running a forum at Questacon - Ideas and Influence: how can scientific knowledge shape policy? It was great to have speakers of the calibre of Subho Banerjee, Lesley Hughes, Robert May, Nick Rowley and David Schimel lead the discussion, with insightful summing up by Andrew Campbell and facilitation by Sara Phillips. A fantastic audience both in the theatre and remotely contributed to a very enjoyable occasion. Thanks must go to Questacon for the venue and technical support. The videos are now viewable from the ACEAS web site.
 
There are several upcoming events of note, including the Grand ACEAS Workshop of 2013, which this year will be on the topic of Freshwater Ecology. This workshop has a hard act to follow (the outcome of the previous Grand ACEAS workshop, the Brave New Green World paper is now published in Biological Conservation), but hopefully significant output will emerge (more on the grand workshop below).
 
I am presenting a paper on ACEAS at INTECOL in London and organising a little Australian get-together for Thursday night the 22nd of August. Please let me know if you shall be there: I know one ACEAS group is presenting their work.
 
At present ACEAS is undergoing a review. This is being conducted by Richard Price and Steve Cork, and we welcome input from all of you about what ACEAS has done, could do better, and where it might go best in the future. There is more on this, together with their contact details, later in the newsletter.
 
We are gradually building on the final reports, with ten now published on the Products and Outcomes page, joined by a new page on Publications. These products all attest to the worth not only of you, but ACEAS, and we value them highly. I hope that we can shout about your achievements even more in future using our ACEAS Facebook and Twitter feeds, and I am sure that will increase the impact of your work in many ways. Which is what ACEAS is about: helping the community capitalise on the knowledge you already have and turn it into something more valuable.
 

Did you see the ACEAS data lifecycle poster at the TERN Symposium? Here it is with Siddeswara Guru, the ACEAS-TERN Data Integration and Synthesis Coordinator, and Luke Houghton, ACEAS’s Research Assistant and Masters Student.

Did you see the ACEAS data lifecycle poster at the TERN Symposium? Here it is with Siddeswara Guru, the ACEAS-TERN Data Integration and Synthesis Coordinator, and Luke Houghton, ACEAS’s Research Assistant and Masters Student. For more on this theme, follow the presentations given to the ESA 2012 workshop "Smarter Workflows for Ecologists" now on the ACEAS website.


David Hohnberg, the Assistant Director for The Living Murray Environmental Monitoring at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, is involved in two ACEAS working groups: Thresholds and regime shifts in freshwater ecosystems and Falling productivity as a constraint on native fish abundance. These working groups are examining complex ecological issues that are of high relevance in the Murray-Darling Basin, making David’s involvement, as a representative of an NRM agency, particularly important.
 
"My involvement in the ACEAS working groups has ensured a strong link between the researchers in the groups and the practical needs of those applying knowledge to the many difficult issues facing the ecosystems of the Murray-Darling Basin and elsewhere," said David.
 
David sees ACEAS as a highly valuable initiative, allowing researchers and managers to work closely together on important ecological issues by drawing on existing data and information.
 
"Being part of ACEAS working groups comprised of researchers, academics, technical staff and managers has reinforced my understanding of the need for, and value of, the inclusion of the full range of relevant stakeholders in addressing complex ecological issues. ACEAS has also demonstrated that while such collaboration is accepted as important, it does not occur without significant coordination, effort and resourcing."
 

David Hohnberg and Nick Bond participating in an ACEAS working group.

David Hohnberg and Nick Bond participating in an ACEAS working group.

 
David found ACEAS to be well organised and supportive, which he felt maximises the time available to focus on priority issues and thereby the outcomes possible through the working groups.
 
"ACEAS is a very valuable part of TERN and ecological research in Australia”, said David. “The results of ACEAS working groups do have on-ground applicability and therefore contribute to policy input and hopefully, real-world environmental outcomes."
 
The first group David was involved in, Thresholds and regime shifts in freshwater ecosystems working group, worked to determine if long-term monitoring datasets from Australian freshwater ecosystems can be re-examined to detect past 'tipping points', ‘thresholds’ or ‘regime shifts’ and if potential future thresholds can be predicted. The group has drafted a manuscript on the need for long-term monitoring of Australian freshwater ecosystems, and are currently completing the change point analyses.
 
The Falling productivity as a constraint on native fish abundance working group, which David is also a member of, is addressing the idea that traditional restoration efforts for native fish populations are likely constrained by alteration of freshwater ecosystem foodwebs. In particular, invasive species such as Carp may be intercepting energy flows in foodwebs that would otherwise be used by native species. The group has been examining historical and current records of native fish populations in the River Murray system and considering these in association with information on carbon cycling and production in the Murray. The group is aiming to develop simple demographic and bio-energetic models to help quantify hypotheses about possible constraints on the recovery of native fish populations.
 

The ACEAS working group on Thresholds and regime shifts in freshwater ecosystems. Back row L-R: Bruce Chessman, Nick Bond, Jasmyn Lynch, Daryl Neilsen, Keith Ward, Jim Thomson, Ralph Mac Nally, Max Finlayson. Front row L-R: David Hohnberg (standing), Peter Gell, Jenny Davis and Sam Capon.

The ACEAS working group on Thresholds and regime shifts in freshwater ecosystems. Back row L-R: Bruce Chessman, Nick Bond, Jasmyn Lynch, Daryl Neilsen, Keith Ward, Jim Thomson, Ralph Mac Nally, Max Finlayson. Front row L-R: David Hohnberg (standing), Peter Gell, Jenny Davis and Sam Capon.

All involved in the ACEAS initiative would appreciate that the coming 18 months are critical to demonstrate the initiative’s success and to underline why it is important to support good ecological management and policy with rigorously coordinated, synthesized and analysed data. For this reason, ASEAS is undergoing a mid-term review to make recommendations about how to maximize the benefits in the short and to consider its directions for the longer term.
 
Richard Price and Steven Cork have been engaged to undertake the review. Both have substantial experience in the integration and synthesis of interdisciplinary knowledge within the context of decision-making. They also have considerable program management experience, while Richard has first-hand policy and legislative experience.
 
The review will be conducted over May and June 2013. It will involve analysis of the substantial records kept of ACEAS activities, including previous surveys and feedback from activity participants. The reviewers will conduct interviews with key ACEAS informants and distribute a short survey to around 200 past and present participants.
 
If you would like to contact the reviewers regarding the review or to provide personal feedback, please contact either Richard or Steve Cork.
 


ACEAS Grand Workshop 2013 This year’s Grand ACEAS Workshop is centred around Freshwater Ecology and will be held from the 19th-21st June in Brisbane. The Grand Workshop will bring together approximately twenty five nominated participants from nine ACEAS Working Groups that have focussed on topics around ecosystems dependent on our freshwater resources. These groups are: Techniques for increasing the spatial scale of monitoring, Thresholds and regime shifts in Australian freshwater ecosystems, Integrated catchment planning, Adaptation pathways for aquatic plants, Novel approaches of measuring aquatic connectivity, Metrics of environmental flow ecology, Forest Drought and Mortality and Extinction risk of frogs under climate change.
 
The Grand Workshop will enable participants to compare and contrast their work and collaborate on common themes of importance. It will provide the opportunity for fresh insights to their existing projects as well as generating new ideas and understanding for Australia’s freshwater ecosystems.
 
The participants will be able to shed light on issues such as:

  • Variability:
    What level of exposure do our species and ecosystems face under increasingly variable flow / inundation regimes?
  • Climate change:
    How will our species and ecosystems cope with increasing climate variability?
  • Connectivity:
    How can our ecosystems cope with natural and unnatural disruptions to connectivity, and what can new techniques tell us?
ACEAS Grand Workshop 2013
 

Confirmed workshop and working group meetings and other important dates for the next few months.

Check out the ACEAS web site for meeting updates and reports as they come to hand.

Title Principal Investigator Meeting Dates Where
Conservation of Australian Frogs McCarthy 27-30 May Women’s College
Grand ACEAS Workshop: freshwater ecology–the science A. Specht 19-21 June Customs House
Interactive Games to Value and Manage Ecosystem Services Costanza August tba
INTECOL Specht 18-23 August London
Ecosystem vulnerability to changing fire regimes Lawes September Brisbane
DataONE meeting (A. Specht attending) n/a 21-25 October New Mexico
Australian aerobiology Davies 4-8 November  tba
Populations of Northern Quoll Fisher 2-6 December tba

 

Contact: Alison Specht | ACEAS Program Manager | aceas.tern@uq.edu.au


 
TERN is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and the Super Science Initiative.

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