Daniel Ramp is a conservation biologist with an interest in landscape ecology, behavioural ecology, road ecology, and wildlife-human interactions. At the core of his research lies an adoption of the principles of compassionate conservation, an expanding international discipline that promotes the wellbeing of individuals in environmental decision making. He is active in creating science that assists in policy change and his primary goal is to incentivise coexistence with wildlife in agricultural landscapes.
Daniel is the Director of the UTS Centre for Compassionate Conservation. With a long interest in marsupials from the family Macropodidae, Daniel was a co-founder of THINKK – the think tank for kangaroos, an academic forum that operated from 2010 - 2014 with the aim of fostering a greater understanding among Australians of kangaroos.
Daniel is the Director of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation at UTS.
Daniel has been in the School of Life Sciences at UTS since 2011. Previously he was a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales. He held an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship at UNSW working on road ecology after completing his doctoral research on eastern grey kangaroos at the University of Melbourne.
Daniel participates on numerous committees and organisations where is committed to behavioural change that leads to positive human-wildlife interactions.
- Research Committee for the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute
- Director of Voiceless, the animal protection institute
- Co-founder of the Northern Beaches Road-kill Committee
- Co-founder of THINKK, the think tank for kangaroos
- Director, UTS Centre for Compassionate Conservation
Can supervise: YES
Research conducted within Dan’s group encompasses a wide range of topics. His team work in the peri-urban surrounds of Sydney, within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, across the Hunter and Macquarie Valleys, and in production landscapes in Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. His team also work on international projects, focussed on Israel, the US and Asia.
Dan's publication track record (opens an external site)
Current projects include:
- Compassionate conservation: Bringing individuals into conservation decision making
- Wildlife friendly farming: Helping farmers to benefit from protecting wildlife
- Wildlife welfare: Non-invasive methods for wildlife welfare assessment
- Population modelling: Understanding compassionate management options for wildlife
- Ecoclimatology: Using microclimate to aid conservation and agriculture
- Ecohydrology: Minimising risk to drinking water supply
- Road ecology: Urbanisation impacts on animal welfare
- Ecosystem services: The role of herbivory in ecosystem functioning
- Landscape ecology: Maximising persistence of large mammals in production landscapes
Current Lab Members:
- Dr Arian Wallach (Chancellors Post-Doctoral Fellow) - Do apex predators enable native–non-native coexistence?
- Dr Boyu Ji (Research Fellow) - Crop yield prediction using microclimate data
- Dr Kyle Zawada (Research Analyst) - Crop yield prediction using microclimate data
- Dr Marine Desprez (Research Fellow) - Crop yield prediction using microclimate data
- Andrea Harvey (PhD) (with Fiona Hollinshead, Rosalie Chapple) - Development of wild animal welfare assessments in wild horses
- Caitlin Austin (PhD) (with Finbarr Horgan) - Decline, fragmentation and welfare of kangaroos in NSW
- Gavin Bonsen (PhD) (with Arian Wallach) - Wolf-human conflict in the middle-east
- Eamonn Wooster (PhD) (with Arian Wallach) - The role of coevolution and ecological context in the behavioural ecology of the red fox
- Esty Yanco (PhD) - Coexistence in shared landscapes: one health analysis of wildlife friendly farming systems
- Erick Lundgren (PhD) (with Arian Wallach) - How does biotic globalization alter patterns of global biodiversity and ecological function in the Anthropocene?
- Jianguo Li (PhD) (with Qiang Yu, Kate Brandis) - Biosignals from water chemistry
- Chris Hasselerharm (PhD) (with Kate Brandis) - Provenance detection using real-time forensics in the illegal wildlife trade
Recent Past Staff and Students:
- Dr Rachael Nolan (Post-Doctoral Fellow) - Managing risk in carbon markets
- Dr John Gollan (Post-Doctoral Fellow) - The role of microclimate in ecological systems
- Evan Webster (PhD) (UNSW) (with Richard Kingsford, David Keith, Ashish Sharma) - Defining the spatio-temporal effect of vegetation, disturbance and rainfall in water catchment areas
- Eamonn Wooster (Honours) (with Arian Wallach) - The effect of dingoes and humans on foraging behaviour of the red fox
- Ray Mjadwesch (MSc) - Kangaroos in NSW: A Stratified Population Model
- Andrew Letten (PhD) (UNSW) (with David Keith, John Gollan, Mick Ashcroft) - The influence of fine-scale climate variability on patterns of plant community diversity. Now doing a post-doc at Stanford.
- Melanie Purdy (Honours) - Using technology to improve coexistence between humans and kangaroos
- Caitlin Austin (Hons) (with Jonathan Webb, Katherine Tuft) - Using camera traps to estimate survival and abundance of a critically endangered marsupial, the northern quoll
- Kea Clarke (Hons) (with Jonathan Webb) - Macropods and riparian restoration activities. Now a graduate intern with the Murray Darling Basin Authority
- Zoe-Joy Newby (PhD) (USYD) (with David Guest, Ed Liew) - The role of Phytophthora in dieback in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Now a Scientic Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
- Gilad Bino (PhD 2012) (UNSW) (with Richard Kingsford) - Large scale conservation strategies for Australia’s mammals. Now doing a post-doc at UNSW.
- John Burley (Hons 2013) (with John Gollan, Graham Pyke) - Where have the frogs gone? Climate, disease, and amphibian extinction. Now doing an Erasmus Mundus MSc in Evolutionary Biology in Europe.
- Kresinda Turner (Hons) (with John Gollan, Chris Reid) - Beetle responses to climate variability
- Rachael Loneragan (Hons 2013) - Spatial population regulation in ground-dwelling mammals in urban environments
- Gavin Bonsen (Hons 2012) (with Brad Law) - Resource selection patterns in microbats as a response to noise pollution in urbanised landscapes
Dan teaches in the following areas:
- Animal Behaviour & Physiology - Subject Coordinator
- Wildlife Ecology
- Animal Law & Policy
- Environmental Protection and Management
Harvey, AM, Beausoleil, NJ, Ramp, D & Mellor, DJ 2020, 'A Ten-Stage Protocol for Assessing the Welfare of Individual Non-Captive Wild Animals: Free-Roaming Horses (Equus Ferus Caballus) as an Example', Animals, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 148-148.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Knowledge of the welfare status of wild animals is vital for informing debates about the ways in which we interact with wild animals and their habitats. Currently, there is no published information about how to scientifically assess the welfare of free-roaming wild animals during their normal day-to-day lives. Using free-roaming horses as an example, we describe a ten-stage protocol for systematically and scientifically assessing the welfare of individual non-captive wild animals. The protocol starts by emphasising the importance of readers having an understanding of animal welfare in a conservation context and also of the Five Domains Model for assessing welfare. It goes on to detail what species-specific information is required to assess welfare, how to identify measurable and observable indicators of animals’ physical states and how to identify which individuals are being assessed. Further, it addresses how to select appropriate methods for measuring/observing physical indicators of welfare, the scientific validation of these indicators and then the grading of animals’ welfare states, along with assigning a confidence score. Finally, grading future welfare risks and how these can guide management decisions is discussed. Applying this ten-stage protocol will enable biologists to scientifically assess the welfare of wild animals and should lead to significant advances in the field of wild animal welfare.
Lundgren, EJ, Ramp, D, Rowan, J, Middleton, O, Schowanek, SD, Sanisidro, O, Carroll, SP, Davis, M, Sandom, CJ, Svenning, J-C & Wallach, AD 2020, 'Introduced herbivores restore Late Pleistocene ecological functions', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 201915769-201915769.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Large-bodied mammalian herbivores dominated Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems for several million years before undergoing substantial extinctions and declines during the Late Pleistocene (LP) due to prehistoric human impacts. The decline of large herbivores led to widespread ecological changes due to the loss of their ecological functions, as driven by their unique combinations of traits. However, recently, humans have significantly increased herbivore species richness through introductions in many parts of the world, potentially counteracting LP losses. Here, we assessed the extent to which introduced herbivore species restore lost—or contribute novel—functions relative to preextinction LP assemblages. We constructed multidimensional trait spaces using a trait database for all extant and extinct mammalian herbivores ≥10 kg known from the earliest LP (∼130,000 ybp) to the present day. Extinction-driven contractions of LP trait space have been offset through introductions by ∼39% globally. Analysis of trait space overlap reveals that assemblages with introduced species are overall more similar to those of the LP than native-only assemblages. This is because 64% of introduced species are more similar to extinct rather than extant species within their respective continents. Many introduced herbivores restore trait combinations that have the capacity to influence ecosystem processes, such as wildfire and shrub expansion in drylands. Although introduced species have long been a source of contention, our findings indicate that they may, in part, restore ecological functions reflective of the past several million years before widespread human-driven extinctions.
Wallach, AD, Lundgren, E, Batavia, C, Nelson, MP, Yanco, E, Linklater, WL, Carroll, SP, Celermajer, D, Brandis, KJ, Steer, J & Ramp, D 2020, 'When all life counts in conservation', Conservation Biology.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Conservation biology involves the collection and analysis of data. These scientific practices emerge from values that shape who and what is counted. Currently, conservation data is filtered through a value system that considers "native" life the only appropriate subject of conservation concern. We examined how trends in species richness, distribution, and threats change when all wildlife count by adding "non-native" and "feral" populations to global IUCN Red List and local species richness assessments. We focused on vertebrate populations whose founding members were taken into and out of Australia by humans (hence migrants). We identified 87 immigrant and 47 emigrant vertebrate species. We found that formal conservation accounts underestimate global ranges by an average of 30% for immigrants and 7% for emigrants; that immigrations surpass extinctions in Australia by 52 species; that migrants are disproportionately threatened, with 33% of immigrants and 29% of emigrants threatened or decreasing in their native ranges; and that incorporating migrant populations into risk assessments could reduce global threat statuses for 15 (of 18) species. We also found that Australian policies define most immigrants as "pests" (76%), and that conservation is the most commonly stated motivation for targeting these species in killing programs (37% of immigrants). Inclusive biodiversity data opens space for dialogue on the ethical and empirical assumptions underlying conservation biology. Article impact statement: Expanding conservation's moral circle to include all wildlife changes conservation data. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Wallach, AD, Batavia, C, Bekoff, M, Alexander, S, Baker, L, Ben-Ami, D, Boronyak, L, Cardilini, APA, Carmel, Y, Celermajer, D, Coghlan, S, Dahdal, Y, Gomez, JJ, Kaplan, G, Keynan, O, Khalilieh, A, Kopnina, H, Lynn, WS, Narayanan, Y, Riley, S, Santiago-Ávila, FJ, Yanco, E, Zemanova, MA & Ramp, D 2020, 'Recognizing animal personhood in compassionate conservation', Conservation Biology.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Compassionate conservation argues that actions taken to protect the Earth's diversity of life should be guided by compassion for all sentient beings. A set of essays published in Conservation Biology call to reject compassionate conservation. Critics argue that there are situations in which harming animals in conservation programs is appropriate. Three core reasons can be summarized: (1) conservation's raison d'être is biodiversity protection; (2) conservation is already compassionate to nonhumans; and (3) conservation should be compassionate to humans. We analysed these arguments, finding that objections to compassionate conservation are expressions of human exceptionalism, the view that humans are of categorically separate and higher moral status than all other species. In contrast, compassionate conservationists believe that conservation should expand its moral community by recognising all sentient beings as persons. Personhood, in an ethical sense, implies an entity is owed respect, and should never be treated merely as a means to other ends. On scientific and ethical grounds, there are good reasons to extend personhood to nonhuman animals, particularly in conservation. The moral exclusion or subordination of nonhuman beings has served to legitimate the ongoing manipulation and exploitation of the more-than-human world, the very reason conservation was needed in the first place. We embrace compassion for its ability to dismantle human exceptionalism, to recognise nonhuman personhood, and to navigate a more expansive moral space. Article impact statement: The debate about compassionate conservation is about whether to recognize nonhuman personhood. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Li, J, Li, Z, Brandis, KJ, Bu, J, Sun, Z, Yu, Q & Ramp, D 2020, 'Tracing geochemical pollutants in stream water and soil from mining activity in an alpine catchment', Chemosphere, vol. 242, pp. 125167-125167.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Harvey, AM, Meggiolaro, MN, Hall, E, Watts, ET, Ramp, D & Šlapeta, J 2019, 'Wild horse populations in south-east Australia have a high prevalence of Strongylus vulgaris and may act as a reservoir of infection for domestic horses.', International journal for parasitology. Parasites and wildlife, vol. 8, pp. 156-163.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Australia has over 400,000 wild horses, the largest wild equid population in the world, scattered across a range of different habitats. We hypothesised that wild horse populations unexposed to anthelmintics would have a high prevalence of Strongylus vulgaris infections. Verminous endarteritis and colic due to migrating S. vulgaris larvae is now absent or unreported in domestic horses in Australia, yet wild horses may pose a risk for its re-emergence. A total of 289 faecal egg counts (FECs) were performed across six remote wild horse populations in south-east Australia, of varying densities, herd sizes and habitats. Total strongyle egg counts ranged from 50 to 3740 eggs per gram (EPG, mean 1443) and 89% (257/289) of faecal samples had > 500 EPG, classifying them as 'high level shedders'. There were significant differences in mean total strongyle FECs between different locations, habitats and population densities. Occurrence of S. vulgaris was not predictable based on FECs of total strongyle eggs or small (<90 μm) strongyle eggs. A high prevalence of S. vulgaris DNA in faecal samples was demonstrated across all six populations, with an overall predicted prevalence of 96.7%. This finding is important, because of the ample opportunity for transmission to domestic horses. The high prevalence of S. vulgaris suggests vigilance is required when adopting wild horses, or when domestic horses graze in environments inhabited by wild horses. Appropriate veterinary advise is required to minimize disease risk due to S. vulgaris. Monitoring horses for S. vulgaris using larval culture or qPCR remains prudent. Gastrointestinal parasites in wild horse populations may also serve as parasite refugia, thus contributing to integrated parasite management when facing emerging anthelmintic resistance.
Newby, Z, Murphy, RJ, Guest, DI, Ramp, D & Liew, ECY 2019, 'Detecting symptoms of Phytophthora cinnamomi infection in Australian native vegetation using reflectance spectrometry: complex effects of water stress and species susceptibility', Australasian Plant Pathology, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 409-424.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Wooster, E, Wallach, AD & Ramp, D 2019, 'The wily and courageous Red Fox: Behavioural analysis of a mesopredator at resource points shared by an apex predator', Animals, vol. 9, no. 11.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a widespread and ecologically significant terrestrial mesopredator, that has expanded its range with human globalisation. Despite this, we know relatively little about their behaviour under the wide range of ecological conditions they experience, particularly how they navigate the risk of encounters with apex predators. We conducted the first ethological study of foxes outside their historic native range, in Australia, where both the foxes and their main predator were protected from human hunting. Using remote camera traps, we recorded foxes visiting key resource points regularly utilised by territorial dingoes (Canis dingo), their local apex predator, in the Painted Desert, South Australia. We constructed an ethogram sensitive to a range of behaviours and attitudes. Since foxes are suppressed by dingoes, we expected that the foxes would primarily be in a cautious state. In contrast, we found that foxes were in a confident state most of the time. Where human hunting is absent, social stability of predators may increase predictability and therefore decrease fear.
Yanco, E, Nelson, MP & Ramp, D 2019, 'Cautioning against overemphasis of normative constructs in conservation decision making', Conservation Biology, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 1002-1013.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Questions around how to conserve nature are increasingly leading to dissonance in conservation planning and action. While science can assist in unraveling the nature of conservation challenges, conservation responses rely heavily on normative positions and constructs to order actions, aid interpretations, and provide motivation. However, problems can arise when norms are mistaken for science or when they stymy scientific rigor. To highlight these potential pitfalls, we used the ethics-based tool of argument analysis to assess a controversial conservation intervention, the Pelorus Island Goat Control Program. The program proponents' argument for restorative justice was unsound because it relied on weak logical construction overly entrenched in normative assumptions. Overreliance on normative constructs, particularly the invocation of tragedy, creates a sense of urgency that can subvert scientific and ethical integrity, obscure values and assumptions, and increase the propensity for flawed logic. This example demonstrates how the same constructs that drive biodiversity conservation can also drive poor decision making, spur public backlash, and justify poor animal welfare outcomes. To provide clarity, a decision-making flowchart we devised demonstrates how values, norms, and ethics influence one another. We recommend practitioners follow 3 key points to improve decision making: be aware of values, as well as normative constructs and ethical theories that those values inform; be mindful of overreliance on either normative constructs or ethics when deciding action is justified; and be logically sound and transparent when building justifications. We also recommend 5 key attributes that practitioners should be attentive to when making conservation decisions: clarity, transparency, scientific integrity, adaptiveness, and compassion. Greater attention to the role of norms in decision making will improve conservation outcomes and garner greater public support for actions.
Sharing landscapes with humans is an increasingly fraught challenge for wildlife acrossthe globe. While some species benefit from humans by exploiting novel opportunities (e.g., provisionof resources or removal of competitors or predators), many wildlife experience harmful effects, eitherdirectly through persecution or indirectly through loss of habitat. Consequently, some species havebeen shown to be attracted to human presence while others avoid us. For any given populationof a single species, though, the question of whether they can recognise and change their responseto human presence depending on the type of human actions (i.e., either positive or negative) hasreceived little attention to date. In this study, we chose to examine the behavioural plasticity withina single population of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) to both positive and negativehuman activity. Within a relatively small and contiguous landscape, we identified areas wherekangaroos experience a combination of either low and high frequencies of benign and harmfulhuman disturbances. From six sampling sessions over five months, we found that density and groupsizes were higher where humans acted benignly towards them, and that these groups had higherrepresentations of sub-adults and juveniles than where humans had harmful intentions. Importantly,we found that the vital antipredator strategy of increasing group size with distance from cover wasnot detectable at sites with low and high levels of harm. Our findings suggest that these kangaroosare recognising and adjusting their behavioural response to humans at fine spatial scales, a plasticitytrait that may be key to the survival of these species in human dominated landscapes.
Austin, CM & Ramp, D 2019, 'Flight responses of eastern gray kangaroos to benign or harmful human behavior', Ecology and Evolution, vol. 9, no. 24, pp. 13824-13834.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Nolan, RH, Sinclair, J, Waters, CM, Mitchell, PJ, Eldridge, DJ, Paul, KI, Roxburgh, S, Butler, DW & Ramp, D 2019, 'Risks to carbon dynamics in semi-arid woodlands of eastern Australia under current and future climates.', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 235, pp. 500-510.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Extreme disturbance events, such as wildfire and drought, have large impacts on carbon storage and sequestration of forests and woodlands globally. Here, we present a modelling approach that assesses the relative impact of disturbances on carbon storage and sequestration, and how this will alter under climate change. Our case study is semi-arid Australia where large areas of land are managed to offset over 122 million tonnes of anthropogenic carbon emissions over a 100-year period. These carbon offsets include mature vegetation that has been protected from clearing and regenerating vegetation on degraded agricultural land. We use a Bayesian Network model to combine multiple probabilistic models of the risk posed by fire, drought, grazing and recruitment failure to carbon dynamics. The model is parameterised from a review of relevant literature and additional quantitative analyses presented here. We found that the risk of vegetation becoming a net source of carbon due to a mortality event, or failing to realise maximum sequestration potential, through recruitment failure in regenerating vegetation, was primarily a function of rainfall in this semi-arid environment. However, the relative size of an emissions event varied across vegetation communities depending on plant attributes, specifically resprouting capacity. Modelled climate change effects were variable, depending on the climate change projection used. Under 'best-case' or 'most-likely' climate scenarios for 2050, similar or increased projections of mean annual precipitation, associated with a build-up of fuel, were expected to drive an increase in fire activity (a 40-160% increase), but a decrease in drought (a 20-35% decrease). Under a 'worst-case' climate scenario, fire activity was expected to decline (a 37% decrease), but drought conditions remain similar (a 5% decrease). These projected changes to the frequency of drought and fire increase the risk that vegetation used for carbon offsetting will fail t...
Brandis, KJ, Bino, G, Spencer, JA, Ramp, D & Kingsford, RT 2018, 'Decline in colonial waterbird breeding highlights loss of Ramsar wetland function', Biological Conservation, vol. 225, pp. 22-30.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Water resource development on rivers significantly affects life cycles of species reliant on wetlands. However, assessing ecological impacts is often difficult because they are realised over long-time periods and large spatial scales, particularly on highly variable dryland rivers. Thirty percent of all Ramsar wetlands are in drylands. We examined the effects of diversions of water upstream on colonial waterbird breeding at the Narran Lakes, supplied by a highly variable dryland river. Narran Lakes is an important Ramsar-listed wetland in Australia for its provision of habitat for wetland fauna during key life history stages, including colonially breeding waterbirds. We use historical ibis breeding data over five decades (1970–2016) to determine the flow requirements for colonial waterbird breeding and modelled the impacts of water resource management options (current and restoration) on breeding. We identified thresholds (>154,000 ML in 90 days with a secondary threshold of >20,000 ML in the first 10 days) of river flow volume necessary to stimulate breeding. Water resource development reduced the frequency of large flows resulting in ibis breeding by 170%, from 1 in 4.2 years to 1 in 11.4 years. Restoration efforts by government to recover water for the environment was predicted to improve colonial waterbird breeding frequency associated with large flow events to 1 in 6.71 years, representing a 59% reduction from pre-development periods. Our framework has global application as a method for identifying long-term impacts of water resource development on key Ramsar wetland areas. This is important, as few mechanisms exist for assessing impacts and identifying restoration options on the listed criteria for many Ramsar wetlands.
Brandis, KJ, Meagher, PJB, Tong, LJ, Shaw, M, Mazumder, D, Gadd, P & Ramp, D 2018, 'Novel detection of provenance in the illegal wildlife trade using elemental data.', Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Despite being the fourth largest criminal market in the world, no forensic tools have been sufficiently developed to accurately determine the legal status of seized animals and their parts. Although legal trading is permissible for farmed or captive-bred animals, many animals are illegally removed from the wild and laundered by masquerading them as captive bred. Here we present high-resolution x-ray fluorescence (XRF) as a non-invasive and cost-effective tool for forensic classification. We tested the efficacy of this technique by using machine learning on a training set of zoo specimens and wild-caught individuals of short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus), a small insectivorous monotreme in Australia. XRF outperformed stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ15N), reducing overall classification error below 4%. XRF has the added advantage of providing samples every 200 μm on a single quill, enabling 100% classification accuracy by taking the consensus of votes per quill. This accurate and cost-effective forensic technique could provide a much needed in situ solution for combating the illegal laundering of wildlife, and conversely, assist with certification of legally bred animals.
Horgan, FG, Bernal, CC, Letana, S, Naredo, AI, Ramp, D & Almazan, MLP 2018, 'Reduced efficiency of tropical flies (Diptera) in the decomposition of snail cadavers following molluscicide poisoning', Applied Soil Ecology, vol. 129, pp. 61-71.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Horgan, FG, Kudavidanage, EP, Weragodaarachchi, A & Ramp, D 2018, 'Traditional ‘maavee’ rice production in Sri Lanka: environmental, economic and social pressures revealed through stakeholder interviews', Paddy and Water Environment, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 225-241.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Nilwala Ganga Basin of Sri Lanka includes important natural wetlands that are habitat for vulnerable animal and plant species. Flood protection and intensive rice production in the Basin have resulted in degraded acid soils and declining rice yields. However, traditional ‘maavee’ rice production outside the flood protection scheme has continued to generate a high-value rice product. This study reports on interviews conducted with farmers and other stakeholders to document the production practices and the potential environmental and economic benefits associated with maavee rice paddies. The maavee production system has prevailed for at least several decades. Farmers apply no chemicals to their paddies, relying instead on alluvial deposits as a source of nutrients, and on the natural pest and disease resistance of their traditional varieties. The maavee rice product can attain three times the selling price of rice from conventional farms making it more economically viable than conventional rice production. However, much of maavee production is for home consumption and the system is threatened by increasing labour costs, an ageing farming population and pressures to increase rice yields. Non-invasive production practices and the proximity of maavee paddies to regenerating wetlands in the Kirala Kele Sanctuary suggest that traditional paddies may constitute an important habitat for vulnerable wildlife; however, maavee farmers also perceive wetland birds as potentially damaging to rice. Based on a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, we make recommendations for future research needs and potential management actions to safeguard the environmental and economic sustainability of the maavee system.
Large herbivorous mammals, already greatly reduced by the late-Pleistocene extinctions, continue to be threatened with decline. However, many herbivorous megafauna (body mass ≥ 100 kg) have populations outside their native ranges. We evaluate the distribution, diversity and threat status of introduced terrestrial megafauna worldwide and their contribution towards lost Pleistocene species richness. Of 76 megafauna species, 22 (∼29%) have introduced populations; of these eleven (50%) are threatened or extinct in their native ranges. Introductions have increased megafauna species richness by between 10% (Africa) and 100% (Australia). Furthermore, between 15% (Asia) and 67% (Australia) of extinct species richness, from the late Pleistocene to today, have been numerically replaced by introduced megafauna. Much remains unknown about the ecology of introduced herbivores, but evidence suggests that these populations are rewilding modern ecosystems. We propose that attitudes towards introduced megafauna should allow for broader research and management goals.
Nolan, RH, Drew, DM, O'Grady, AP, Pinkard, EA, Paul, K, Roxburgh, SH, Mitchell, PJ, Bruce, J, Battaglia, M & Ramp, D 2018, 'Safeguarding reforestation efforts against changes in climate and disturbance regimes', Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 424, pp. 458-467.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Vu, Q, Ramal, AF, Villegas, JM, Jamoralin, A, Bernal, CC, Pasang, JM, Almazan, MLP, Ramp, D, Settele, J & Horgan, FG 2018, 'Enhancing the parasitism of insect herbivores through diversification of habitat in Philippine rice fields', Paddy and Water Environment, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 379-390.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Wallach, AD, Bekoff, M, Batavia, C, Nelson, MP & Ramp, D 2018, 'Summoning compassion to address the challenges of conservation.', Conservation Biology, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 1255-1265.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Conservation practice is informed by science, but also reflects ethical beliefs about how we ought to value and interact with the Earth's biota. As human activities continue to drive extinctions and diminish critical life-sustaining ecosystem processes, achieving conservation goals becomes increasingly urgent. In our determination to react decisively, conservation challenges can be handled without due deliberation, particularly when wildlife individuals are sacrificed "for the greater good" of wildlife collectives (populations, species, ecosystems). With growing recognition of the widespread sentience and sapience of many nonhuman animals, standard conservation practices that categorically prioritize collectives without due consideration for the wellbeing of individuals are ethically untenable. Here we highlight three overarching ethical orientations characterizing current and historical practices in conservation that suppress compassion: instrumentalism, collectivism, and nativism. We illustrate how establishing a commitment to compassion could re-orient conservation in more ethically expansive directions, which incorporate recognition of the intrinsic value of wildlife, the sentience of nonhuman animals, and the values of novel ecosystems, introduced species and their members. A compassionate conservation approach allays practices that intentionally and unnecessarily harm wildlife individuals, while aligning with critical conservation goals. Although the urgency of achieving effective outcomes for solving major conservation problems may enhance the appeal of quick and harsh measures, the costs are too high. Continuing to justify moral indifference when causing the suffering of wildlife individuals, particularly those who possess sophisticated capacities for emotion, consciousness, and sociality, risks estranging conservation practice from prevailing, and appropriate, social values. As conservationists and compassionate beings, we must demonstrate concern for bo...
Wallach, AD, Lundgren, E, Yanco, E & Ramp, D 2018, 'Is the prickly pear a ‘Tzabar’? Diversity and conservation of Israel’s migrant species', Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution, vol. 63, pp. 9-22.
Article impact statement: Incorporating introduced populations into the moral universe of conservation shows the Anthropocene is astoundingly rich in megafauna.
Nolan, RH, Sinclair, J, Eldridge, DJ & Ramp, D 2018, 'Biophysical risks to carbon sequestration and storage in Australian drylands.', Journal of environmental management, vol. 208, pp. 102-111.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Carbon abatement schemes that reduce land clearing and promote revegetation are now an important component of climate change policy globally. There is considerable potential for these schemes to operate in drylands which are spatially extensive. However, projects in these environments risk failure through unplanned release of stored carbon to the atmosphere. In this review, we identify factors that may adversely affect the success of vegetation-based carbon abatement projects in dryland ecosystems, evaluate their likelihood of occurrence, and estimate the potential consequences for carbon storage and sequestration. We also evaluate management strategies to reduce risks posed to these carbon abatement projects. Identified risks were primarily disturbances, including unplanned fire, drought, and grazing. Revegetation projects also risk recruitment failure, thereby failing to reach projected rates of sequestration. Many of these risks are dependent on rainfall, which is highly variable in drylands and susceptible to further variation under climate change. Resprouting vegetation is likely to be less vulnerable to disturbance and have faster recovery rates upon release from disturbance. We conclude that there is a strong impetus for identifying management strategies and risk reduction mechanisms for carbon abatement projects. Risk mitigation would be enhanced by effective co-ordination of mitigation strategies at scales larger than individual abatement project boundaries, and by implementing risk assessment throughout project planning and implementation stages. Reduction of risk is vital for maximising carbon sequestration of individual projects and for reducing barriers to the establishment of new projects entering the market.
Zu, Q, Mi, C, Liu, DL, He, L, Kuang, Z, Fang, Q, Ramp, D, Li, L, Wang, B, Chen, Y, Li, J, Jin, N & Yu, Q 2018, 'Spatio-temporal distribution of sugarcane potential yields and yield gaps in Southern China', European Journal of Agronomy, vol. 92, pp. 72-83.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The sustainability and production capacity of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum (L.)) in Southern China is essential to ensure sugar security in China, yet potential crop yield and yield gap (the difference between actual and potential crop yield) of sugarcane is poorly known. In this study, the sugarcane growth and development model, QCANE, was validated for sugarcane phenology, stalk height, and yields, then used to simulate potential yields and yield gaps of sugarcane in Southern Chine (SC) between 1970 and 2014. Simulated potential yields decreased as longitude and latitude increased, driven by spatial variation in solar radiation and maximum temperature. The gap between potential and water-limited yields was noticeably larger in Yunnan province because of the prevalence of seasonal water deficiency. However, nitrogen stress was the dominant driver of the yield gap, given the abundant precipitation in SC. Across SC, large variation in the yield gap between water-and-nitrogen limited yields and on-farm yields was observed for different counties, a difference that was usually larger than the local yield gap. Averaged across SC, on-farm sugarcane yields were only 27% of potential yields, 31% of water-limited yields, and 52% of nitrogen-limited yields. This result highlights considerable potential to significantly increase sugarcane production by improving varieties, government support, effective management measures such as fertilization, irrigation, and mechanization.
Dubios, S, Fenwick, N, Ryan, EA, Baker, L, Baker, SE, Beausoleil, NJ, Carter, S, Cartwright, B, Costa, F, Draper, C, Griffin, J, Grogan, A, Howald, G, Jones, B, Littin, KE, Lombard, AT, Mellor, DJ, Ramp, D, Schuppli, CA & Fraser, D 2017, 'International consensus principles for ethical wildlife control', Conservation Biology, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 753-760.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Human–wildlife conflicts are commonly addressed by excluding, relocating, or lethally controlling animals with the goal of preserving public health and safety, protecting property, or conserving other valued wildlife. However, declining wildlife populations, a lack of efficacy of control methods in achieving desired outcomes, and changes in how people value animals have triggered widespread acknowledgment of the need for ethical and evidence-based approaches to managing such conflicts. We explored international perspectives on and experiences with human–wildlife conflicts to develop principles for ethical wildlife control. A diverse panel of 20 experts convened at a 2-day workshop and developed the principles through a facilitated engagement process and discussion. They determined that efforts to control wildlife should begin wherever possible by altering the human practices that cause human–wildlife conflict and by developing a culture of coexistence; be justified by evidence that significant harms are being caused to people, property, livelihoods, ecosystems, and/or other animals; have measurable outcome-based objectives that are clear, achievable, monitored, and adaptive; predictably minimize animal welfare harms to the fewest number of animals; be informed by community values as well as scientific, technical, and practical information; be integrated into plans for systematic long-term management; and be based on the specifics of the situation rather than negative labels (pest, overabundant) applied to the target species. We recommend that these principles guide development of international, national, and local standards and control decisions and implementation.
Large predators are declining worldwide primarily due to hunting and persecution by humans, driven in large part by the livestock industry. Some ranchers are transitioning to “predator-friendly” farming by adopting nonlethal predator deterrents. On very large rangeland properties, such as the vast stations of the Australian arid zone, ending lethal control may in itself reduce livestock losses by enabling the predator’s social structure to stabilize. The dingo (Canis dingo), Australia’s apex predator, is commonly subjected to eradication campaigns to protect livestock. We analyzed causes of cattle (Bos taurus) deaths on Evelyn Downs, a 2,300-km2 predator-friendly station in central Australia, for 2 years after dingo protection was established. Husbandry-related challenges, associated with deteriorating environmental conditions, were the leading causes of deaths of cattle. Predation by dingoes was minor and declined as the indices of dingo abundance stabilized and social stability increased. Shifting from killing predators to improving husbandry standards is likely to improve livestock survival and welfare.
Webster, E, Ramp, D & Kingsford, RT 2017, 'Incorporating an iterative energy restraint for the Surface Energy Balance System (SEBS)', Remote Sensing of Environment, vol. 198, pp. 267-285.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Surface Energy Balance System (SEBS) has proven itself as an effective remotely sensed estimator of actual evapotranspiration (ETa). However, it has several vulnerabilities associated with the partitioning of the available energy (AE) at the land surface. We introduce a two stage energy restraint process into the SEBS algorithm (SEBS-ER) to overcome these vulnerabilities. The first offsets the remotely sensed surface temperature to ensure the surface to air temperature difference reflects AE, while the second stage uses a domain based image search process to identify and adjust the proportions of sensible (H) and latent (λE) heat flux with respect to AE. We effectively implemented SEBS-ER over 61 acquisitions over two Landsat tiles (path 90 row 84 and path 91 row 85) in south-eastern Australia that feature heterogeneous land covers. Across the two areas we showed that the SEBS-ER algorithm has: greater resilience to perturbed errors in surface energy balance algorithm inputs; significantly improved accuracy (p < 0.05) at two eddy covariance flux towers in heavily forested (RMSE 62.3 W m− 2, R2 0.879) and sub-alpine grassland (RMSE 33.2 W m− 2, R2 0.939) land covers; and greater temporal stability across 52 daily actual evapotranspiration (ETa) estimates compared to a temporally stable and independent ETa dataset. The energy restraint within SEBS-ER has reduced exposure to the complex errors and uncertainties within remotely sensed, meteorological, and land type SEBS inputs, providing more reliable and accurate spatially distributed ETa products.
Austin, C, Tuft, K, Ramp, D, Cremona, T & Webb, JK 2017, 'Bait preference for remote camera trap studies of the endangered northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus)', Australian Mammalogy, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 72-77.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Estimating population size is crucial for managing populations of threatened species. In the Top End of northern Australia, populations of northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus), already affected by livestock grazing, inappropriate burning regimes and predation, have collapsed following the spread of the toxic cane toad (Rhinella marina). Cane toads are currently invading the Kimberley, where they pose a threat to quoll populations. To manage these populations, we need reliable methods for detecting and estimating quoll abundance. We deployed camera traps with lures containing tuna, peanut butter or no bait and found that baited cameras performed better than the unbaited control. Cameras with a tuna lure detected more individuals than cameras baited with peanut butter or no bait. Cameras with a tuna lure yielded more photographs per quoll than those baited with peanut butter or no bait. We identified individual quolls from unique spot patterns and found multiple photographs improved the accuracy of identification. We also found that population estimates for the sample area derived from camera trapping were consistent with those from live trapping using mark–recapture techniques.
Most people in the world now live in cities. Urbanisation simultaneously isolates people from nature and contributes to biodiversity decline. As cities expand, suburban development and the road infrastructure to support them widens their impact on wildlife. Even so, urban communities, especially those on the peri-urban fringe, endeavour to support biodiversity through wildlife friendly gardens, green spaces and corridors, and conservation estates. On one hand, many who live on city fringes do so because they enjoy proximity to nature, however, the ever increasing intrusion of roads leads to conflict with wildlife. Trauma (usually fatal) to wildlife and (usually emotional and financial) to people ensues. Exposure to this trauma, therefore, should inform attitudes towards wildlife vehicle collisions (WVC) and be linked to willingness to reduce risk of further WVC. While there is good anecdotal evidence for this response, competing priorities and better understanding of the likelihood of human injury or fatalities, as opposed to wildlife fatalities, may confound this trend. In this paper we sought to explore this relationship with a quantitative study of driver behaviour and attitudes to WVC from a cohort of residents and visitors who drive through a peri-urban reserve (Royal National Park) on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. We distributed a self-reporting questionnaire and received responses from 105 local residents and 51 visitors to small townships accessed by roads through the national park. We sought the respondents’ exposure to WVC, their evasive actions in an impending WVC, their attitudes to wildlife fatalities, their strategies to reduce the risk of WVC, and their willingness to adopt new ameliorative measures. The results were partitioned by driver demographics and residency. Residents were generally well informed about mitigation strategies but exposure led to a decrease in viewing WVC as very serious. In addition, despite most respondents stating the...
Thomson, FJ, Auld, TD, Ramp, D & Kingsford, RT 2016, 'A switch in keystone seed-dispersing ant genera between two elevations for a myrmecochorous plant, Acacia terminalis', PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 1-14.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The dispersal capacity of plant species that rely on animals to disperse their seeds (biotic dispersal) can alter with changes to the populations of their keystone dispersal vectors. Knowledge on how biotic dispersal systems vary across landscapes allows better understanding of factors driving plant persistence. Myrmecochory, seed dispersal by ants, is a common method of biotic dispersal for many plant species throughout the world. We tested
if the seed dispersal system of Acacia terminalis (Fabaceae), a known myrmecochore, differed between two elevations in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, in southeastern Australia.We compared ant assemblages, seed removal rates of ants and other vertebrates (bird and mammal) and the dominant seed-dispersing ant genera. At low elevations
(c. 200 m a.s.l) seed removal was predominantly by ants, however, at high elevation sites (c. 700 m a.s.l) vertebrate seed dispersers or seed predators were present, removing over 60% of seeds from experimental depots when ants were excluded. We found a switch in the keystone seed-dispersing ant genera from Rhytidoponera at low elevations sites to Aphaenogaster at high elevation sites. This resulted in more seeds being removed faster at low elevation sites compared to high elevation sites, however long-term seed removal rates were equal between elevations. Differences in the keystone seed removalist, and the addition of an alternate dispersal vector or seed predator at high elevations, will result in different dispersal and establishment patterns for A. terminalis at different elevations. These differences in dispersal concur with other global studies that report myrmecochorous dispersal systems alter with elevation.
Webster, E, Ramp, D & Kingsford, RT 2016, 'Spatial sensitivity of surface energy balance algorithms to meteorological data in a heterogeneous environment', Remote Sensing of Environment, vol. 187, pp. 294-319.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Increasing demand for water security requires improved accuracy in water accounting. Quantification of actual evapotranspiration is an essential part of this accounting and is frequently derived from surface energy balance (SEB) models that combine satellite remote sensing and on-ground measurements of meteorological data. However, many of the world's major water supply catchments are highly heterogeneous with land types, vegetation communities, and topography varying spatially. We compared the performance of seven meteorological interpolation methods and three SEB algorithms (the Simplified Surface Energy Balance Index (S-SEBI), the Hybrid Dual-Source Scheme and Trapezoid Framework-Based Evapotranspiration Model (HTEM), and the Surface Energy Balance System (SEBS)), testing their sensitivity to meteorological and remotely sensed inputs in a heterogeneous environment. Under a two dimensional framework, accuracy of interpolation methods varied among SEB meteorological inputs, suggesting that combining methods could improve overall accuracy. SEB algorithms were influenced by the density, type, and variability of meteorological inputs and sensitivity analysis showed that wind speed and air temperature were almost as influential as surface temperature for HTEM and SEBS. SEBS was the most sensitive to meteorological variability caused by choice of interpolation method when analysed globally, while HTEM was the most sensitive to local meteorological variation at flux towers. S-SEBI's simple structure made it the least sensitive to meteorological inputs and interpolation methods. Continued improvement in spatially explicit interpolation methods, combined with increased densities of meteorological stations, will increase accuracy and confidence in remotely sensed SEB fluxes, contributing to improved water accounting in heterogeneous catchments.
Bonsen, G, Law, B & Ramp, D 2015, 'Foraging strategies determine the effect of traffic noise on bats', Acta Chiropterologica, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 347-357.
Gollan, JR, Ramp, D & Ashcroft, MB 2015, 'Contrasting topoclimate, long-term macroclimatic averages, and habitat variables for modelling ant biodiversity at landscape scales', Insect Conservation and Diversity, vol. 8, pp. 43-53.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The ethical position underpinning decisionmaking is an important concern for conservation biologists when setting priorities for interventions. The recent debate on how best to protect nature has centered on contrasting intrinsic and aesthetic values against utilitarian and economic values, driven by an inevitable global rise in conservation conflicts. These discussions have primarily been targeted at species and ecosystems for success, without explicitly expressing concern for the intrinsic value and welfare of individual animals. In part, this is because animal welfare has historically been thought of as an impediment to conservation. However, practical implementations of conservation that provide good welfare outcomes for individuals are no longer conceptually challenging; they have become reality. This reality, included under the auspices of "compassionate conservation," reflects an evolved ethic for sharing space with nature and is a major step forward for conservation.
Ashcroft, MB, Gollan, JR & Ramp, D 2014, 'Creating vegetation density profiles for a diverse range of ecological habitats using terrestrial laser scanning', Methods in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 263-272.View/Download from: Publisher's site
1. Vegetation structure is an important determinant of species habitats and diversity. It is often represented by simple metrics, such as canopy cover, height and leaf area index, which do not fully capture three-dimensional variations in density. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is a technology that can better capture vegetation structure, but methods developed to process scans have been biased towards forestry applications. The aim of this study was to develop a methodology for processing TLS data to produce vegetation density profiles across a broader range of habitats. 2. We performed low-resolution and medium-resolution TLS scans using a Leica C5 Scanstation at four locations within eight sites near Wollongong, NSW, Australia (34·3834·41°S, 150·84150·91°E). The raw point clouds were converted to density profiles using a method that corrected for uneven ground surfaces, varying point density due to beam divergence and occlusion, the non-vertical nature of most beams and for beams that passed through gaps in the vegetation without generating a point. Density profiles were evaluated against visual estimates from three independent observers using coarse height classes (e.g. 510 m). 3. TLS produced density profiles that captured the three-dimensional vegetation structure. Although sites were selected to differ in structure, each was relatively homogeneous, yet we still found a high spatial variation in density profiles. There was also large variation between observers, with the RMS error of the three observers relative to the TLS varying from 16·2% to 32·1%. Part of this error appeared to be due to misjudging the height of vegetation, which caused an overestimation in one height class and an underestimation in another. 4. Our method for generating density profiles using TLS can capture three-dimensional vegetation structure in a manner that is more detailed and less subjective than traditional methods. The method can be applied to a broad range of habitats not j...
Ben-Ami, D, Boom, K, Boronyak, LJ, Townend, C, Ramp, D, Croft, DB & Bekoff, M 2014, 'The welfare ethics of the commercial killing of free-ranging kangaroos: an evaluation of the benefits and costs of the industry', Animal Welfare, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 1-10.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The commercial killing of kangaroos provides multiple benefits to society, but also causes both deliberate and unintended harms to kangaroos. The ethics of the kangaroo industry is assessed in terms of whether the assumed benefits justify the welfare costs. An analysis of the stated benefits indicates that killing for damage mitigation is beneficial mainly during drought and not at current levels; that there is a commercial value, although considerably lower than previously estimated, and that demonstrable environmental benefits from commercial killing of kangaroos are lacking; and that the commercial kill may ameliorate the suffering of kangaroos during drought. Welfare practices are very difficult to assess and regulate due to the size and remote nature of the industry. A combination of empirical data on welfare outcomes and inferences drawn from behavioural and reproductive knowledge of the commercially killed species are utilised to assess harm. The welfare costs include deliberate and indirect harm to dependent young (a by-product of the commercial kill), and a number of unintended harms to adult kangaroos, including increased mortality during drought, inhumane killing of a portion of adult kangaroos, and a disruption of social stability and the evolutionary potential of individuals. Furthermore, a substantial gap exists between the intended welfare standards of the code of practice governing the kangaroo industry and the welfare outcomes for both dependent young and adult kangaroos. We found that, on balance, the benefits are lower than expected and the welfare costs are likely to be considerably higher than acceptable. More research, particularly at the point of kill, is necessary to verify and assess the extent of harms. A number of improvements are suggested to the code of practice to improve welfare outcomes.
Bino, G, Ramp, D & Kingsford, RT 2014, 'Identifying minimal sets of survey techniques for multi-species monitoring across landscapes: an approach utilising species distribution models', International Journal of Geographical Information Science, vol. 28, no. 8.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Monitoring for species occupancy is often carried out at local scales, reflecting specific targets, available logistics, and funding. Problematically, conservation planning and management operate at broader scales and use information inventories with good scale coverage. Translating information between local and landscape scales is commonly treated in an ad hoc manner, but conservation decision-making can benefit from quantifying spatial-knowledge relationships. Fauna occupancy monitoring, in particular, suffers from this issue of scale, as there are many different survey methods employed for different purposes. Rather than ignoring how informative these methods are when predicting regional distributions, we describe a statistical approach that identifies survey combinations that provide the greatest additive value in mammal detection across different scales. We identified minimal sets of survey methods for 53 terrestrial mammal species across a large area in Australia (New South Wales (NSW), 800,000 km2) and for each of the 18 bioregions it encompasses. Utility of survey methods varied considerably at a landscape scale. Unplanned opportunistic sightings were the single largest source of species information (35%). The utility of other survey methods varied spatially; some were retained in minimal sets for many bioregions, while others were spatially restricted or unimportant. Predator scats, Elliot and pitfall trapping, spotlighting, and diurnal herpetofauna surveys were the most frequently included survey methods at a landscape scale. Use of our approach can guide identification of efficient combinations of survey methods, maximising detection and returns for monitoring. Findings and methodologies are easily transferable and are globally applicable across any taxa. They provide guidelines for managing scarce resources for regional ?monitoring programs, and improving regional strategic ?conservation planning.
Brandis, KJ, Koeltzow, N, Ryall, S & Ramp, D 2014, 'Assessing the use of camera traps to measure reproductive success in Straw-necked Ibis breeding colonies', Australian Field Ornithology, vol. 31, pp. 99-106.
Nest monitoring may influence reproductive success and rates of predation. This study compared data from two methods of monitoring nests repeated visits to nests by investigators and collection of data by camera trapsin Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis breeding colonies in the Murrumbidgee catchment in New South Wales. There was no significant difference in reproductive success between nests monitored by these two methods. These data show that (1) nest monitoring using camera traps is a valid survey method that reduces the need for investigators to engage in intensive and costly monitoring in the field, and (2) there was no detectable interference from repeated visits to nests by investigators on the reproductive success of ibis.
Gollan, JR, Ramp, D & Ashcroft, MB 2014, 'Assessing the Distribution and Protection Status of Two Types of Cool Environment to Facilitate Their Conservation under Climate Change', Conservation Biology, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 456-466.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Strategies to mitigate climate change can protect different types of cool environments. Two are receiving much attention: protection of ephemeral refuges (i.e., places with low maximum temperatures) and of stable refugia (i.e., places that are cool, have a stable environment, and are isolated). Problematically, they are often treated as equivalents. Careful delineation of their qualities is needed to prevent misdirected conservation initiatives; yet, no one has determined whether protecting one protects the other. We mapped both types of cool environments across a large (~3.4M ha) mixed-use landscape with a geographic information system and conducted a patch analysis to compare their spatial distributions; examine relations between land use and their size and shape; and assess their current protection status. With a modest, but arbitrary, threshold for demarcating both types of cool environments (i.e., values below the 0.025 quantile) there were 146,523 ha of ephemeral refuge (62,208 ha) and stable refugia (62,319 ha). Ephemeral refuges were generally aggregated at high elevation, and more refuge area occurred in protected areas (55,184 ha) than in unprotected areas (7,024 ha). In contrast, stable refugia were scattered across the landscape, and more stable-refugium area occurred on unprotected (40,135 ha) than on protected land (22,184 ha). Although sensitivity analysis showed that varying the thresholds that define cool environments affected outcomes, it also exposed the challenge of choosing a threshold for strategies to address climate change; there is no single value that is appropriate for all of biodiversity. The degree of overlap between ephemeral refuges and stable refugia revealed that targeting only the former for protection on currently unprotected land would capture ~17% of stable refugia. Targeting only stable refugia would capture ~54% of ephemeral refuges. Thus, targeting one type of cool environment did not fully protect the other. Evaluación de ...
Slavich, E, Warton, DI, Ashcroft, MB, Gollan, JR & Ramp, D 2014, 'Topoclimate versus macroclimate: how does climate mapping methodology affect species distribution models and climate change projections?', Diversity And Distributions, vol. 20, pp. 952-963.View/Download from: Publisher's site
ABSTRACT Aim: We analyse how and why `topoclimate mapping methodologies improve on macroclimatic variables in modelling the distribution of biodiversity. Further, we consider the implications for climate change projections. Location: Greater Hunter Valley region (c. 60,000 km2), New South Wales, Australia. Methods: We fitted generalised linear models to 295 species of grasses and ferns at fine resolutions (< 50 m2) using (a) macroclimatic variables, interpolated from weather station data using altitude and location only, (b) topoclimatic variables, interpolated from field measurements using additional climate-forcing factors such as topography and canopy cover, and (c) both topoclimatic and macroclimatic variables. We conducted community-level analyses and examined the reasons for differences through single-species analyses. We projected species distributions under 03° warming, comparing biodiversity loss predicted by topoclimate and macroclimate variables. Results: At the community level, the topoclimatic variables explained significant variation (p < 0.002) in the distribution of both ferns and grasses not explained by macroclimatic variables, resulting in increases of 0.0360.061 in the pseudo R-squared. Topoclimate performed better (as determined by AIC) than macroclimate for grass species living in cold extremes under topoclimate and most fern species. Models using topoclimatic temperature variables projected different locations of biodiversity loss/retention and in general projected substantially fewer species becoming critically endangered in the study region than models using macroclimatic temperature variables in one scenario, topoclimate projected 10% of species becoming critically endangered where macroclimate projected 28%. Main Conclusions: How climate variables are constructed has a significant effect on species distribution models and any subsequent climate change predictions. Misleading conclusions may result from models based on fine-resolution c...
Context: Roads have numerous impacts on wildlife populations, such as forming barriers to movement and isolating them from resources. However, knowledge of how wildlife behave in road-impacted environments is limited. Aims: Our aim was to assess the suitability of roadside habitat for the swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor). Methods: We measured the home range, habitat use and body metrics of swamp wallabies at two roadside locations. The home ranges and fitness of the roadside wallabies were compared with the metrics of swamp wallabies within the adjacent reserve. Key results: The roadside wallabies had a preference for canopy cover, but not for other habitat features. The roadside home ranges were stable and relatively small. The nocturnal ranges were considerably smaller and further from the road than were diurnal ranges. Only one wallaby crossed the road during the study, via an underpass. There was a significant positive linear correlation between pes length and bodyweight. Roadside wallabies were significantly heavier than were reserve wallabies. Conclusions: Our study suggested that individual wallabies avoid the road, are habituated to the roadside environment and may even benefit from it. At the very least, roadside habitats are adequate for the swamp wallaby. Implications: Fencing and road crossings are likely to be beneficial conservation-management measures for swamp wallabies in roadside reserves.
Bino, G, Ramp, D & Kingsford, R 2013, 'Niche evolution in terrestrial mammals? Clarifying scale-dependencies in phylogenetic and functional drivers of co-occurrence', Evolutionary Ecology, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 1159-1173.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Interactive forces between competition and habitat filtering drive many biogeographic patterns over evolutionary time scales. However, the responsiveness of assemblages to these two forces is highly influenced by spatial scale, forming complex patterns of niche separation. We explored these spatial dependencies by quantifying the influence of phylogeny and functional traits in shaping present day native terrestrial mammal assemblages at multiple scales, principally by identifying the spatial scales at which niche evolution operates. We modelled the distribution of 53 native terrestrial mammal species across New South Wales, Australia. Using predicted distributions, we estimated the range overlap between each pair of species at increasing grain sizes (~0.8, 5.1, 20, 81, 506, 2,025, 8,100 km2). We employed a decision tree to identify how interactions among functional traits and phylogenetic relatedness translated to levels of sympatry at increasing spatial scales. We found that Australian terrestrial mammals displayed phylogenetic over-dispersion that was inversely related to spatial scale, suggesting that ecological processes were more influential than biogeographic sympatry patterns in defining assemblages of species. While the contribution of phylogenetic relatedness to patterns of co-occurrence decreased as spatial scale increased, the reverse was true for habitat preferences. At the same time, functional traits also operated at different scales, as dietary preferences dominated at local spatial scales (<10 km2) while body mass has a stronger effect at larger spatial scales. Our findings show that ecological and evolutionary processes operate at different scales and that Australian terrestrial mammals diverged slower along their micro-scale niche compared to their macro-scale niche. By combining phylogenetic and niche methods through the modelling of species distributions, we assessed whether specific traits were related to a particular niche. More importantly,...
Bino, G, Ramp, D & Kingsford, RT 2013, 'Improving bioregional frameworks for conservation by including mammal distributions', Austral Ecology, vol. 38, pp. 393-404.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Large identifiable landscape units, such as ecoregions, are used to prioritize global and continental conservation efforts, particularly where biodiversity knowledge is inadequate. Setting biodiversity representation targets using coarse large-scale biogeographic boundaries, can be inefficient and under-representative. Even when using fine-scale biodiversity data, representation deficiencies can occur through misalignment of target distributions with such prioritization frameworks. While this pattern has been recognized, quantitative approaches highlighting misalignments have been lacking, particularly for assemblages of mammal species. We tested the efficacy of Australia's bioregions as a spatial prioritization framework for representing mammal species, within protected areas, in New South Wales. We produced an approach based on mammal assemblages and assessed its performance in representing mammal distributions. Substantial spatial misalignment between New South Wales's bioregions and mammal assemblages was revealed, reflecting deficiencies in the representation of more than half of identified mammal assemblages. Using a systematic approach driven by fine-scale mammalian data, we compared the efficacy of these two frameworks in securing mammalian representation within protected areas. Of the 61 species, 38 were better represented by the mammalian framework, with remaining species only marginally better represented when guided by bioregions. Overall, the rate at which mammal species were incorporated into the protected area network was higher (5.1% ± 0.6 sd) when guided by mammal assemblages. Guided by bioregions, systematic conservation planning of protected areas may be constrained in realizing its full potential in securing representation for all of Australia's biodiversity. Adapting the boundaries of prioritization frameworks by incorporating amassed information from a broad range of taxa should be of conservation significance.
nvestigating responses to climate often rely on macroclimatic models. This is problematic because of the potential to miss or wrongly attribute relationships. Here we compare the explanatory power of macroclimatic models and near-surface topoclimatic models. Body-size measurements of the ant species, Iridomyrmex purpureus, were collected from separate colonies spanning a range of climatic conditions in a large region (;75,000 km2 ) of Australia. Regional regression was used to derive two topoclimatic variables, while ANUCLIM was used to derive macroclimatic variables. Relationships were tested using linear mixed-effect models with Akaike information criterion used as an indication of the relative goodness of fit for each model. Significant trends for both topoclimatic variables with body size were detected but only one of the three macroclimatic variables showed a significant trend. Although the significant macroclimatic variable was correlated with one of the topoclimatic variables, the topoclimatic variable had greater explanatory power. Few studies have considered climatic data accuracy or the effects of inaccurately quantified climatic data on ecological theory. This cannot continue to be ignored. As we show in this study, there is potential for important trends to go undetected and interpretation of results to be completely different.
Laffan, SW, Ramp, D & Roger, E 2013, 'Using endemism to assess representation of protected areas - the family Myrtaceae in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area', Journal of Biogeography, vol. 40, pp. 570-578.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Aim We assess how much of species' ranges are present within protected areas and how different land units within protected areas contribute to overall protection, both within their region and at continental scales. We do this using the plant family Myrtaceae in relation to the globally important Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) in New South Wales, Australia. Location South-eastern Australia. Methods Compiling data throughout the region and nationally, we considered two spatially based quantitative measures of endemism (relative range restriction): weighted endemism (WE) and corrected weighted endemism (CWE). In both measures, species are weighted by the proportion of their ranges found within the analysis window, with the ranges calculated as the total number of cells in which they occur (10 km ï½ 10 km in this research). We also derived a novel expectation for the contribution of each species to the endemism scores at each taxonomic level based on the additive properties of the metrics and their relationship to species richness. We used this expectation to assess the proportional contribution of each genus to the endemism scores. Results The degree to which Myrtaceae species within the GBMWHA are endemic to the GBMWHA area is 16%, meaning that an average of 16% of the ranges of species found in the GBMWHA are restricted to that area. The figure for those species with ranges less than or equal to the median (80 cells) is 33%. The genus Eucalyptus contributes the most to the endemism scores obtained, but no more than would be expected given its number of species. The genus Leptospermum is 3.7% less restricted to the GBMWHA than would be expected, while the genus Melaleuca is 5% more restricted than expected.
Letten, A, Ashcroft, M, Keith, D, Gollan, JR & Ramp, D 2013, 'The importance of temporal climate variability for spatial patterns in plant diversity', Ecography, vol. 36, no. 12, pp. 1341-1349.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Spatial variation in absolute climatic conditions (means, maxima or minima) is widely acknowledged to play a fundamental role in controlling species diversity patterns. In contrast, while evidence is accumulating that variability around mean climatic conditions may also influence species coexistence and persistence, the importance of spatial variation in temporal climatic variability for species diversity is still largely unknown. We used a unique dataset capturing fine-scale spatial heterogeneity in temperature variability across 2490 plots in southeast Australia to examine the comparative strength of absolute temperature and temperature variability in explaining spatial variation in plant diversity. Across all plots combined and in three of five forest types, temperature variability emerged as the better predictor of diversity. In all but one forest type, diversity also exhibited either a significant unimodal or positive linear correlation with temperature variability. This relationship is consistent with theory that predicts diversity will initially increase along a climate variability gradient due to temporal niche partitioning, but at an intermediary point, may decline as the risk of stochastic extinction exceeds competitive stabilization. These findings provide critical empirical evidence of a linkage between spatial variation in temporal climate variability and plant species diversity, and in light of changing climate variability regimes, highlight the need for ecologists to expand their purview beyond absolutes and averages.
Ethical debate on the killing of kangaroos has polarised conservation and animal welfare science, yet at the heart of these scientific disciplines is the unifying aim of reducing harm to non-human animals. This aim provides the foundation for common ground, culminating in the development of compassionate conservation principles that seek to provide mechanisms for achieving both conservation and welfare goals. However, environmental decision-making is not devoid of human interests, and conservation strategies are commonly employed that suit entrenched positions and commercial gain, rather than valuing the needs of the non-human animals in need of protection. The case study on the wild kangaroo harvest presents just such a dilemma, whereby a conservation strategy is put forward that can only be rationalised by ignoring difficulties in the potential for realising conservation benefits and the considerable welfare cost to kangaroos. Rather than an open debate on the ethics of killing game over livestock, in this response I argue that efforts to bring transparency and objectivity to the public debate have to date been obfuscated by those seeking to maintain entrenched interests. Only by putting aside these interests will debate about the exploitation of wildlife result in humane, compassionate, and substantive conservation benefits.
Presence-only data, where information is available concerning species presence but not species absence, are subject to bias due to observers being more likely to visit and record sightings at some locations than others (hereafter observer bias). In this paper, we describe and evaluate a model-based approach to accounting for observer bias directly by modelling presence locations as a function of known observer bias variables (such as accessibility variables) in addition to environmental variables, then conditioning on a common level of bias to make predictions of species occurrence free of such observer bias. We implement this idea using point process models with a LASSO penalty, a new presence-only method related to maximum entropy modelling, that implicitly addresses the pseudo-absence problem of where to locate pseudo-absences (and how many). The proposed method of bias-correction is evaluated using systematically collected presence/absence data for 62 plant species endemic to the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia. It is shown that modelling and controlling for observer bias significantly improves the accuracy of predictions made using presence-only data, and usually improves predictions as compared to pseudo-absence or inventory methods of bias correction based on absences from non-target species. Future research will consider the potential for improving the proposed bias-correction approach by estimating the observer bias simultaneously across multiple species.
Ashcroft, MB, Gollan, JR, Warton, DI & Ramp, D 2012, 'A novel approach to quantify and locate potential microrefugia using topoclimate, climate stability, and isolation from the matrix', Global Change Biology, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 1866-1879.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Ecologists are increasingly recognizing the conservation significance of microrefugia, but it is inherently difficult to locate these small patches with unusual climates, and hence they are also referred to as cryptic refugia. Here we introduce a new methodology to quantify and locate potential microrefugia using fine-scale topoclimatic grids that capture extreme conditions, stable climates, and distinct differences from the surrounding matrix. We collected hourly temperature data from 150 sites in a large (200 km by 300 km) and diverse region of New South Wales, Australia, for a total of 671 days over 2 years. Sites spanned a range of habitats including coastal dune shrublands, eucalypt forests, exposed woodland ridges, sheltered rainforest gullies, upland swamps, and lowland pastures. Climate grids were interpolated using a regional regression approach based on elevation, distance to coast, canopy cover, latitude, cold-air drainage, and topographical exposure to winds and radiation. We identified extreme temperatures on two separate climatic gradients: the 5th percentile of minimum temperatures and the 95th percentile of maximum temperatures. For each gradient, climatic stability was assessed on three different time scales (intra-seasonal, intra-annual and inter-annual). Differences from the matrix were assessed using a moving window with a 5 km radius. We averaged the Z-scores for these extreme, stable and isolated climates to identify potential locations of microrefugia. We found that our method successfully predicted the location of communities that were considered to occupy refugia, such as rainforests that have progressively contracted in distribution over the last 2.5 million years, and alpine grasslands that have contracted over the last 15 thousand years. However, the method was inherently sensitive to the gradient selected and other aspects of the modelling process.
This paper presents an investigation into the legal history of Australias kangaroos. It aims to provide a detailed analysis of how the law and policy governing the killing of kangaroos has evolved over time in response to changing public perceptions. This history begins with the pre-European period and traces the impact of European colonisation, early growth of the commercial kangaroo industry, and the increased role of science and regulation upon kangaroos. The paper critiques the historical designation of kangaroos as `pests that need to be `managed and argues that such an approach is inconsistent with current scientific understanding. As this `pest status has fallen in importance there has been a shift in regulatory goals from damage mitigation to resource utilisation, although government planning and policy continue to cite damage mitigation alongside objectives to maintain viable populations and a sustainable and commercially viable industry. While the kangaroo industrys current focus is upon the `sustainable use of wildlife, the history of attitudes towards kangaroos as `pests is so deeply and widely entrenched that it is impossible for the industry to meet welfare standards. The article concludes that the commercial kangaroo industry does not have any clearly defined policy benefit and should be reassessed to take greater account of the impact it has on ecosystems and kangaroo welfare
Protected areas are established to conserve biodiversity and facilitate resilience to threatening processes. Yet protected areas are not isolated environmental compounds. Many threats breach their borders, including transportation infrastructure. Despite an abundance of roads in many protected areas, the impact of roads on biota within these protected areas is usually unaccounted for in threat mitigation efforts. As landscapes become further developed and the importance of protected areas increases, knowledge of how roads impact on the persistence of species at large scales and whether protected areas provide relief from this process is vital. We took a two-staged approach to analysing landscape-scale habitat use and road-kill impacts of the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), a large, widely distributed herbivore, within New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Firstly, we modelled their state-wide distribution from atlas records and evaluated the relationship between habitat suitability and wombat road fatalities at that scale. Secondly, we used local-scale fatality data to derive an annual estimate of wombats killed within an optimal habitat area. We then combined these two approaches to derive a measure of total wombats killed on roads within the protected area network. Our results showed that common wombats have a broad distribution (290,981 km2), one quarter (24.9 %) of their distribution lies within protected areas, and the percentage of optimal habitat contained within protected areas is 35.6 %, far greater than the COP10 guidelines of 17 %.
Brandis, KJ, Kingsford, RT, Ren, S & Ramp, D 2011, 'Crisis water management and ibis breeding at Narran Lakes in arid Australia', Environmental Management, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 489-498.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Narran Lakes is a Ramsar site recognised for its importance for colonial waterbird breeding, which only occurs after large highly variable flooding events. In 2008, 74,095 pairs of ibis bred for the first time in seven years, establishing two contiguous colonies, a month apart. Most (97%) of the colony consisted of the straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) with the remainder consisting of glossy ibis (2%, Plegadis falcinellus) and Australian white ibis (1%, T. molucca). Following cessation of river flows, water levels fell rapidly in the colony site, resulting in a crisis management decision by governments to purchase and deliver water (10,423 Ml) to avert mass desertion of the colonies. There were significant differences in the reproductive success of each colony. In colony 1 60% of eggs hatched and 94% of chicks fledged, while in colony 2 40% of eggs hatched with only 17% of chicks fledging. Statistical analyses found that water depth was a significant variable in determining reproductive success. Rapid falls in water level during the chick stage in colony 2 resulted in decreased chick and overall offspring success. The results of this study identify the impact of upstream water resource development on colonial waterbird breeding and have implications for water management policies.
Chapple, R, Ramp, D, Bradstock, R, Kingsford, R, Merson, J, Auld, TD, Fleming, P & Mulley, RC 2011, 'Integrating science into management of ecosystems in the Greater Blue Mountains', Environmental Management, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 659-674.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Effective management of large protected conservation areas is challenged by political, institutional and environmental complexity and inconsistency. Knowledge generation and its uptake into management are crucial to address these challenges. We reflect o
Gold, D, Ramp, D & Laffan, S 2011, 'Potential lantana invasion of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area under climate change', Pacific Conservation Biology, vol. 17, no. 1-2, pp. 54-67.
Invasive weeds represent one of the greatest threats to ecosystem integrity worldwide, with climate change predicted to allow expansion of weed ranges in coming decades. One of Australias worst weeds is lantana (Lantana camara) which, given the potential for climatic change, is of increasing concern to those managing the mountainous regions in the countrys southeast. In order to identify potential additional threats lantana may pose for Australias valued biodiversity, this research develops a habitat suitability model for lantana in a portion of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area under current and simulated warmer conditions. Minimum temperature was found to be the most important predictor correlated with potential lantana establishment, explaining over 88% of the variation in lantana presence predicted by the model. Currently, 8% of the study area was found to be suitable for lantana, with this figure reaching 94% after a simulated 2°C rise in temperature anticipated by 2050.
Ramp, D, Gates Foale, C, Roger, E & Croft, DB 2011, 'Suitability of acoustics as non-lethal deterrents for macropodids: the influence of origin, delivery, and anti-predator behaviour', Wildlife Research, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 408-418.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Context. Auditory devices used to deter wildlife are a potentially humane and effective way of minimising deleterious interactions with humans and their livelihoods and have been used successfully for many species around the world. Acoustic cues can be used to manipulate anti-predator behaviour, encouraging animals to forage elsewhere. Employing acoustics derived from natural sources to make use of innate behavioural responses has been suggested to outperform novel or artificial sounds; however, anti-predator strategies vary among sympatric species and will influence the utility of acoustic stimuli for deterring wildlife. Aims. We aimed to test the interaction between the source of origin (natural or novel) and species traits (anti-predator strategy - grouping behaviour) on the efficacy of using acoustic stimuli to elicit alarm responses for two species in the family Macropodidae commonly associated with browsing on forest plantation seedlings; the red-necked pademelon (Thylogale thetis) and the red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus banksianus). Methods. We tested these factors in captivity using playback experiments of acoustic stimuli and monitored the behavioural responses of subjects. Results. Red-necked pademelons exhibited strong responses to bioacoustic and novel stimuli but did not greatly differentiate among them. Short-term habituation to predator calls was detected whereas responsiveness to novel sounds increased. Red-necked wallabies most strongly responded to conspecific distress calls, showing no sign of short-term habituation. Conclusions. Results from the present and other studies suggest that bioacoustic deterrents, particularly those utilising natural conspecific sounds, aimed at communicating danger, have the potential to play an important role in non-lethal wildlife management, although that responsiveness varies with the form of anti-predator strategies employed. Implications. If alarm responses translate into subjects vacating targeted ar...
Roger, E, Laffan, SW & Ramp, D 2011, 'Road impacts a tipping point for wildlife populations in threatened landscapes', Population Ecology, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 215-227.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The conservation of wildlife populations living adjacent to roads is gaining international recognition as a worldwide concern. Populations living in road-impacted environments are influenced by spatial parameters including the amount and arrangement of suitable habitat. Similarly, heterogeneity in threatening processes can act at a variety of spatial scales and be crucial in affecting population persistence. Common wombats (Vombatus ursinus) are considered both widespread and abundant throughout their eastern Australian continental distribution. They nevertheless face many threats, primarily human induced. As well as impacts from disease and predation by introduced species, high roadside fatality rates on many rural roads are frequently reported. We parameterized a model for common wombat population viability analysis within a 750-km(2) area of the northwestern corner of Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, Australia, and tested its sensitivity to changes in the values of basic parameters. We then assessed the relative efficiency of various mitigation measures by examining the combined impact from roads, disease and predation on wombat subpopulation persistence in the area. We constructed a stage-structured and spatially explicit model incorporating estimates of survival and fecundity parameters for each of the identified subpopulations using RAMAS GIS. Estimates of current threatening processes suggest mitigating road-kill is the most effective management solution. Results highlight the importance of recognizing the interplay between various threats and how their combination has the capacity to drive local depletion events.
Zhang, K, Laffan, SW, Ramp, D & Webster, E 2011, 'Incorporating a distance cost in systematic reserve design', International Journal of Geographical Information Science, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 393-404.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The selection of parcels of land to incorporate into reserve systems necessitates trade-offs among biodiversity targets, costs such as land area and spatial compactness. There are well-established systematic reserve design algorithms that incorporate these trade-offs to assist decision-makers in this process. One cost that has received little attention is the proximity of new land parcels to the existing reserve network: the ability of environmental managers to effectively maintain and protect additional land units is often constrained by their proximity to existing reserve networks. The selection of parcels of land close to existing reserves makes them logistically easier to deploy infrastructure to and can also improve the spatial contiguity of the existing reserve network. Previous research has been limited to using distance from the centroids of existing reserves, which significantly biases algorithms when reserves are irregularly shaped. Here we describe a new approach that overcomes this limitation by using the existing reserve boundary to determine proximity. We provide an example of this approach by implementing it as an additional constraint in an analysis of biodiversity targets within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia, via the Marxan reserve design software. The incorporation of the distance cost in the analysis was effective in selecting parcels near to the existing reserve system and can be combined with other variables in the algorithm to improve spatial compactness while meeting biodiversity and other targets. It provides alternative solutions for use by reserve planners when extending reserve systems.
Garvey, N, Ben-Ami, D, Ramp, D & Croft, DB 2010, 'Survival behaviour of swamp wallabies during prescribed burning and wildfire', Wildlife Research, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 1-12.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Context. Prescribed (or controlled) burning is frequently advocated as a means of reducing fuel loads in peri-urban forests to minimise the risk of high-intensity wildfires. An important consideration in prescribed burns is the impact on native wildlife.
Thomson, FJ, Moles, A, Auld, TD, Ramp, D, Ren, S & Kingsford, R 2010, 'Chasing the unknown: predicting seed dispersal mechanisms from plant traits', Journal Of Ecology, vol. 98, no. 6, pp. 1310-1318.View/Download from: Publisher's site
1. The dispersal capabilities of most plant species remain unknown. However, gaining basic dispersal information is a critical step for understanding species' geographical distributions and for predicting the likely impacts of future climate change. Disp
To highlight the benefit of using habitat use to improve the accuracy of predictive road fatality models. The Snowy Mountains Highway in southern New South Wales, Australia. A binary logistic regression model was constructed using wombat fatality presenc
Roger, E, Laffan, S & Ramp, D 2007, 'Habitat selection by the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) in disturbed environments: Implications for the conservation of a 'common' species', Biological Conservation, vol. 137, no. 3, pp. 437-449.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The construction of habitat models is a repeatable technique for describing and mapping species distributions, the utility of which lies in enabling management to predict where a species is likely to occur within a landscape. Typically, habitat models ha
Ben-Ami, D, Ramp, D & Croft, DB 2006, 'Population viability assessment and sensitivity analysis as a management tool for the peri-urban environment', Urban Ecosystems, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 227-241.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Anthropogenic disturbance occurring within urban ecosystems is often extreme and highly variable. A quantifiable measure of their effect on the persistence of urban wildlife populations would contribute to conservation efforts. This study suggests that population viability assessment, a commonly utilized modeling tool for creating management strategies for rare and threatened wildlife populations, is also appropriate in an urban context. It can be used to create proactive management strategies that quantify the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances and rank a range of management options within an active adaptive framework. To show this, population viability assessment and sensitivity analyses were run to forecast the population trends of a seemingly robust but isolated swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) population living in peri-urban Sydney, Australia; a population exposed to anthropogenic disturbances from towns, hobby farms and roads. Modeling suggested this population was in a slow decline and that predictions were highly dependent upon stochastic events and the precision of reproduction rates. However, a number of management options are identified that will dramatically reduce the risk of total population decline, with complementary options utilized in tandem the most effective.
Klocker, U, Croft, DB & Ramp, D 2006, 'Frequency and causes of kangaroo-vehicle collisions on an Australian outback highway', Wildlife Research, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 5-15.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Kangaroo-vehicle collisions are frequent on Australian highways. Despite high economic costs, detrimental effects on animal welfare, and potential impacts on population viability, little research has been done to investigate the impact of road mortality
Maguire, G, Ramp, D & Coulson, G 2006, 'Foraging behaviour and dispersion of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) in an ideal free framework', Journal Of Zoology, vol. 268, no. 3, pp. 261-269.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Ideal free distribution (IFD) theory predicts that animals in competitive situations should distribute themselves among available habitat patches according to the density of conspecifics and its regulatory effect on resources. To investigate the applicab
Ramp, D & Ben-Ami, D 2006, 'The effect of road-based fatalities on the viability of a peri-urban swamp wallaby population', Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 70, no. 6, pp. 1615-1624.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Roads and traffic have a multitude of impacts on wildlife populations. Wildlife existing within the confines of fragmented reserves are particularly susceptible to fatalities on roads, especially those situated within urban and semirural matrices. The su
A goal to reduce the frequency of animal - vehicle collisions is motivating extensive research on this topic world-wide. Over the last 30 years, one popular mechanism to warn wildlife of approaching vehicles has been the wildlife warning reflector, manuf
Ramp, D, Wilson, V & Croft, DB 2006, 'Assessing the impacts of roads in peri-urban reserves: Road-based fatalities and road usage by wildlife in the Royal National Park, New South Wales, Australia', Biological Conservation, vol. 129, no. 3, pp. 348-359.View/Download from: Publisher's site
For protected reserves set aside for conservation, the impact of roads and traffic on wildlife can be severe, particularly for those in the peri-urban environment. Often reserves possess many sealed roads that have regular traffic from tourists and local
Rose, T, Munn, A, Ramp, D & Banks, P 2006, 'Foot-thumping as an alarm signal in macropodoid marsupials: prevalence and hypotheses of function', Mammal Review, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 281-298.View/Download from: Publisher's site
1. Alarm signalling as a means to reduce predation risk is an important component of the behavioural repertoire of many species. It has previously been noted that many of the macropodoid marsupials (kangaroos, wallabies and rat-kangaroos) produce a foot-
Ramp, D, Caldwell, J, Edwards, K, Warton, D & Croft, DB 2005, 'Modelling of wildlife fatality hotspots along the snowy mountain highway in New South Wales, Australia', Biological Conservation, vol. 126, no. 4, pp. 474-490.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The effects of roads on the natural environment is of growing concern world-wide and foremost amongst these effects are the fatalities of wildlife killed in collisions with vehicles. Aside from animal welfare and human safety considerations, fatalities m
Ramp, D, Russell, B & Croft, DB 2005, 'Predator scent induces differing responses in two sympatric macropodids', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 73-78.View/Download from: Publisher's site
When prey species encounter the scent of a predator they must make a decision on how to respond. This may be either to ignore, flee, hide or alarm call. While many species are able to derive detailed information from the chemical cues associated with pre
Lee, E, Klocker, U, Croft, DB & Ramp, D 2004, 'Kangaroo-vehicle collisions in Australia's sheep rangelands, during and following drought periods', Australian Mammalogy, vol. 26, pp. 215-226.
Ramp, D & Coulson, G 2004, 'Small-scale patch selection and consumer-resource dynamics of eastern grey kangaroos', Journal of Mammalogy, vol. 85, no. 6, pp. 1053-1059.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Models of kangaroo populations have primarily focused on the prediction of population growth and distribution in relation to environmental variation at broad geographic scales. Current understanding of small-scale patterns in distribution, habitat breadth, and niche occupation is less complete. A powerful model of dispersion is ideal free distribution (IFD) theory. In plant-herbivore grazing systems, the most appropriate IFD models are those that allow for the incorporation of a standing crop of resources. Using eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), we test the predictions of a previously described standing-crop IFD model where the number of consumers on a patch is proportional to the resource input rate, the standing crop of resources on all patches at equilibrium are equal (in the absence of interference), and the resource mortality rate is directly equivalent to the resource input rate, and is independent of the resource density (in the absence of interference). We make these comparisons at both the habitat and patch scale. At the habitat scale, we observed significant departures from these predictions that are consistent with the commonly reported occurrence of undermatching, whereas at the patch scale, little concordance with the predictions was observed. These results suggest that eastern grey kangaroos select for resources at the habitat scale but not at the level of the patch.
For a free-ranging forager, the suitability of a patch is dependent on population density, resource supply, resource quality, and the costs of foraging or dispersal. We quantified differences among three foraging habitats and compared this variation to temporal patterns of habitat preference by free-ranging eastern grey kangaroos, Macropus giganteus. We investigated selection on a fine-grained spatial scale, and asked whether habitat preference is constrained by density-dependent mechanisms. Variation in the quantity and quality of resources among habitats was greatest during spring, when biomass and quality were highest, and differences among habitats were most pronounced. However, consistent and discernable differences among habitats were not obtained, indicating that the system fluctuated around an equilibrium state. Using isodar regressions to examine the consumer-density relationships among habitats, open-woodland habitat was favoured over the two open-forest habitats for foraging. Seasonal isodars indicated that density dependence regulated preference between the three foraging habitats during autumn, spring and summer, but not during winter, when variability in resources among habitats was lowest.
Ramp, D & Bekoff, M 2016, 'Compassion as a practical and evolved ethic for conservation' in Bovenkerk, B & Keulartz, FWJ (eds), Animal Ethics in the Age of Humans: Blurring boundaries in human-animal relationships, Springer, pp. 387-395.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This book provides reflection on the increasingly blurry boundaries that characterize the human-animal relationship. In the Anthropocene humans and animals have come closer together and this asks for rethinking old divisions.
Ramp, D, Ben-Ami, D, Boom, K & Croft, DB 2013, 'Compassionate conservation: a paradigm shift for wildlife management in Australasia' in Marc Bekoff (ed), Ignoring Nature No More: the case for compassionate conservation, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 295-315.
Humans directly and indirectly impact on the lives of wild animals, primarily by altering landscapes through the removal of habitat for human dwelling or resource production (e.g. agriculture, mining, forestry) (Mathews 2010), but also through changes to the quality of remaining landscapes (e.g. roads, chemical and noise pollution, disease, stress) (Fraser and MacRae 2011). The lives of wild animals are further impacted in the management of remaining natural habitat and human-occupied land (e.g. production landscapes, urban remnants) where wild animals still reside. Wildlife management stems from the need to control species that impinge on human lives and/or livelihood (i.e. where species are defined as pests) or where some form of ecological dysfunction results in what is perceived as an imbalance that requires intervention (i.e. for some higher conservation objective). The subjective and anthropocentric nature of wildlife management, particularly where it relates to the reduction of pest or `overabundant species, was recognized by Graeme Caughley (1981). As the human population expands and demands more land and resources, the separation of clear conservation goals from the need to protect human livelihoods is likely to prove increasingly difficult. Although the welfare concerns of wild animals have been treated as an unimportant consideration in the development of environmental law and policy, there is considerable benefit in joining animal welfare science and animal conservation science to assist in wildlife management policy. Indeed, under the banner of compassionate conservation, a new paradigm for wildlife management beckons, one where nature has a voice in environmental policy and is no longer ignored.
Lee, E, Croft, DB & Ramp, D 2010, 'Flight response as a causative factor in kangaroo-vehicle collisions' in Coulson, G & Eldridge, M (eds), Macropods: The Biology of Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-kangaroos, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia, pp. 301-311.
The reactions of large animals to vehicles approaching along roads and the role these reactions play in the likelihood of collisions with vehicles are not well understood. This study examined the flight responses of kangaroos (Macropus spp.) to an approa
Ramp, D 2010, 'Roads as drivers of change for macropodids' in Coulson, G & Eldridge, M (eds), Macropods: The Biology of Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-kangaroos, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia, pp. 279-291.
As an iconic and predominantly endemic Australian family of mammals, the Macropodidae are synonymous with Australia's faunal identity. Of the 53 species known prior to European settlement, six have since gone extinct and many more have suffered significa
Tacon, PS, Chapple, RS, Merson, JA, Ramp, D, Brennan, W, King, G & Tasire, A 2010, 'Aboriginal rock art depictions of fauna: What can they tell us about the natural history of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area?' in Lunney, D, Hutchings, P & Hochuli, D (eds), The Natural History of Sydney, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Australia, pp. 58-73.
Ramp, D & Roger, E 2008, 'Frequency of animal-vehicle collisions in NSW' in Lunney, D, Munn, A & Meikle, W (eds), Too Close for Comfort: Contentious Issues in Human-Wildlife Encounters, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Australia, pp. 118-126.
Reyna Zeballos, JL, Horgan, FG, Ramp, D & Meier, P 2017, 'Using Learner-Generated Digital Media (LGDM) as an Assessment Tool in Geological Sciences.', Proceedings of the International Technology, Education and Development Conference INTED2017, Valencia, Spain, The 11th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference, INTED2017, INTED 2017, Valencia (Spain), pp. 40-40.
This study explores learner-generated digital media (LGDM) as an assessment tool in Geological Sciences. The aim was to engage students with the geology subject further and to develop their digital media literacies. For this purpose, a cohort of 97 students from the undergraduate Geological Processes subject (Autumn 2016) at the University of Technology Sydney, were randomly allocated to groups of 2-5 students. The students were asked to produce a five-minute digital media presentation on a chosen study topic. A lecture and workshop on digital media principles were delivered to prepare the students for the task early in the semester. Support and feedback were provided across the entire semester by the lecturer and digital media tutor through computer practicals and preparatory assignments. Group contribution was monitored using the SPARKPlus application. An online questionnaire was used at the end of the semester to gauge students' attitude towards LGDM. The survey assessed demographics, digital media support, attitudes toward the assignment, and the contribution of LGDM to skills development. Methodological triangulation was used with data sets from the questionnaire, group work and marks obtained. Our preliminary results indicate that students had a positive attitude towards LGDM as an assessment tool and that the assessment provided a novel opportunity for students to apply attributes such as 'creativity' to their learning experience of geology. Implications for teaching and learning are discussed.
Coulson, G, Alviano, P, Ramp, D & Way, S 1999, 'The kangaroos of Yan Yean: History of a problem population', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, pp. 121-130.
The catchment of Yan Yean Reservoir is situated on the rural fringe of Melbourne, southeastern Australia, and supports a large population of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus Shaw) Yan Yean has a mean annual rainfall of 667 mm, which is distributed evenly throughout the year. Eight prominent eucalypt associations occur in the catchment and a total of 310 plant species have been recorded, including a number of threatened taxa as well as invasive weeds. Yan Yean also has a rich vertebrate fauna: 37 mammal, 155 bird, 28 reptile and 18 amphibian species. We have distinguished five habitat zones in the catchment and adjacent farmland, each reflecting a different land-use history. The first human inhabitants, the Wurunjerri-baluk people, were displaced initially by European settlers who began to log, graze and crop the area in the 1830s, and then by construction of the Yan Yean Reservoir in the 1880s. The catchment is closed to the public. Despite the construction of a kangaroo-proof fence, kangaroos have been a source of problems within the catchment and surrounding agricultural land for five decades. The population has been the focus of research into a number of aspects of ecology, particularly population dynamics, demography and parasitology. Despite a variety of techniques used and areas covered, previous surveys of population size have returned estimates ranging between 1770 and 3000 kangaroos, with little evidence of change since the 1960s.
Ramp, D, Dougherty, E & Bino, G University of Technology, Sydney 2014, Impact of roads on swamp wallaby populations on Sydney's Northern Beaches, pp. 1-44, Sydney, Australia.
The persistence of wildlife in altered environments is increasingly problematic as urbanised and production landscapes become ever more developed. The tipping point for many wildlife populations is the expansion of road networks and subsequent fragmenting effects. Patches of remnant vegetation become restricted in size and become infiltrated by roads with impacts that extend beyond the road edge. The primary mitigation method for addressing this complex problem is to either improve roads to allow safe passage of wildlife (through installation of under- or over-passes) and/or to prevent access to roads by wildlife to reduce rates of road-kill (through fencing). Crossing structures are expensive and governments require confidence that costs directly secure population persistence. Although not as expensive, fencing carries with it ongoing upkeep costs and can restrict wildlife movement, thereby increasing isolation. The question of how to distribute resources to both crossing structures and anti-crossing structures is often site and situation specific, yet decision frameworks for examining the trade-off between the two are in their infancy. Here we present the case of a medium-sized mammal, the swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), that appears to be eminently suited to surviving in urban remnants. However, roads are a major contributor to annual mortality rates. We surveyed four adjacent sub-populations living in reserves surrounded by suburbia, with each sub-population segregated by roads. We estimated population densities and annual fatality rates and used this information to examine the sensitivity of each sub-population to different levels of connectivity (movement across roads). We found that Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park was acting as a source population for Garigal National Park and surrounding regions. At current rates of fatalities and without connectivity, the likelihood of localised extinction in sink populations (Garigal National Park and surrounds) was h...
Ben-Ami, D, Boom, K, Boronyak, LJ, Croft, DB, Ramp, D & Townend, C THINKK, the kangaroo Think Tank, UTS 2011, Welfare implications of commercial kangaroo harvesting: Do the ends justify the means?, pp. 1-49, Sydney, Australia.
Ben-Ami, D, Croft, DB, Ramp, D & Boom, K Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2010, Advocating kangaroo meat: towards ecological benefit or plunder?, Sydney, Australia.
Ramp, D 2015, 'FactCheck: are kangaroos at risk?', The Conversation.
Ramp, D 2015, 'Reshaping conservation with compassion', National Parks Association of NSW, pp. 16-17.
Wallach, AD & Ramp, D 2015, 'Let's give feral cats their citizenship', The Conversation.
There’s been a lot of talk about killing feral cats, with the government’s recently announced war on cats setting the goal of killing two million by 2020. On The Conversation last week, Katherine Moseby and John Read explained several different ways to control feral cats, including baiting. But we would like to offer a different idea: let’s embrace cats as part of Australia’s environment. We could even rename them “Australian wildcats”. Let us explain.