Saving our Species through research

Saving our Species (SoS) funds research that answers key questions related to threatened species conservation.

Find out about our research streams, and details on our research projects. You can also see what information our research has delivered under publications and resources.

Saving our Species' research focuses on 5 main areas:

  • Strategic decision making
  • Monitoring and adaptive management
  • Climate Change and adaptation
  • Threat management
  • Ecological knowledge including fire and ecosystem function

Research streams

Research is incorporated into almost every aspect of Saving our Species. Data are gathered throughout the implementation of SoS conservation strategies. Major program decisions are guided by strategic research, applying the best evidence available. Saving our Species also provides funding for research directly through the programs listed below. It also partners with other programs, such as the NSW Adaptation Hub, NSW Environmental Trust and the National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Threatened Species Recovery Hub to deliver evidence-based outcomes for threatened biodiversity.

Saving our Species science and research grants

Saving our Species allocated $5 million over 5 years to answer big questions using expertise in the research community. Over 30 research projects are being delivered by partnering with universities, other government agencies, botanical gardens, and community organisations. Most grants run for multiple years, with the first grants starting in 2016 and the final grants finishing in 2021.

Saving our Species Key Threatening Process Strategy

An example of integrating action and research, the Key Threatening Process Strategy has provided over $1.4 million to understand the best ways to combat feral deer, feral cats, fungal diseases, and other major threats to biodiversity in New South Wales.

Partnerships with the National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Threatened Species Recovery Hub

Saving our Species is partnering on more than 10 projects with the NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub. These projects cover a broad range of strategic questions relevant to managing threatened species; for example, improving adaptive management and the effectiveness of management interventions, understanding animal and plant diseases, systematic conservation planning and the impacts of fire.

Research within Saving our Species conservation strategies

Saving our Species strategies are designed to incorporate targeted research and adaptive management if and where required to improve outcomes. All projects include monitoring and evaluation of outcomes to help understand what is working best. Many also include research designed specifically to answer major questions, forming part of larger projects such as ARC linkage grants.

Featured projects

Grevillea beadleana. This species has been assigned to the Keep-watch species management stream under the Saving our Species programThis project will study pollinator communities and pollination processes using fire regime history as treatment factors; e.g., fire-free intervals 20-plus years, intermediate (e.g. regular 1 fire in 10 years) and frequent (annual, biennial burns), replicated within and across at least 2 community types; eucalypt forests (e.g. Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Newholme Research Station (the latter with many areas fire-free for 50-150 years) and heath communities on the New England Batholith (granitic fire-prone ecosystems; e.g. the threatened ecological community Howell Shrublands, Mount McKenzie Nature Reserve). Where possible we will take advantage of local burning operations to use a before-after-control-impact (BACI) design to measure responses in pollination systems.

The key research questions are:

  • How do complex pollination systems respond to fire?
  • How long does it take for pollinator communities to recover after severe fire?

We will measure pollinator networks, pollinator abundance and diversity, fruit to flower ratios in key species and examine the irreplaceability risk to mutualisms.

Resprouting, insectivorous Forked Sundews, Drosera binata, with resprouting sedges and shrubs, and shrub seedlings in a Blue Mountains Swamp post-fire. Note cream-flowering Acacia ptychoclada, a fire sensitive, obligate-seeding shrub; mauve-flowering, insectivorous bladderworts, Utricularia dichotoma; and colourful algal and bacterial mat on saturated, peaty soil surface post-fire. Blue Mountains Swamps In The Sydney Basin Bioregion Informed fire management of threatened species is not possible without an understanding of the impacts that different elements of the fire regime have on the persistence of species.

Using available data on fire history, combined with known thresholds of concern for high fire frequency, we will quantify the exposure of some 200 threatened plant species to high fire frequency across a range of habitats and regions. We will then use case studies to see if this has resulted in declines in populations of these threatened plants.

Finally, we will attempt to incorporate risks from other components of the fire regime (low fire frequency, fire season, fire severity) into this fire risk framework in collaboration with University partners.

The outcomes will help inform management of the impacts of fires on threatened plant species in New South Wales, in particular highlighting where high fire frequency is of concern.

We will also provide a foundation for examining other aspects of the fire regime that need to be considered to ensure the risk of extinction is minimised for threatened species in New South Wales.

Led by researchers in the National Parks and Wildlife Service Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas

As heatwaves become more common, sea turtle eggs are at risk. Temperature affects gender balance: warmer temperatures lead to more baby girl turtles. In some nests, hatchlings are up to 85% female. Turtles can adjust to this change is by moving their nests further south to escape the heat. With cooler temperatures, nests produce more males. This makes beaches in New South Wales important as future turtle nesting grounds. This project will watch sea turtle nests in New South Wales and measure the temperatures in both shaded and unshaded nests from Tweed Heads to Wollongong. An exciting aspect of this project is that it includes a program to train citizen scientists to help. People across northern NSW will be recruited to learn about turtles and help keep watch on their babies and nests.

Led by researchers at the University of New EnglandLipotriches sp. roosting on flowers of Haemodorum planifolium

Male bees of Lipotriches sp. roost at night on the outside of flowers of Haemodorum planifolium an obligate-seeder native to the fire prone landscapes of Gibraltar Range National Park, NSW. Haemodorum planifolium can flower within 12 months of a high intensity fire. Female Lipotriches bees harvest pollen from the nectarless flowers of Haemodorum planiflolium by prising open the flower parts in order to gain access. The bees do a disappearing act as the petals close behind them. At the University of New England researchers are studying the impacts of wildfires and hazard reduction burnings on pollinator communities. Native bees such as these Lipotriches may be impoverished by too frequent fires or fires at a crucial phase of their life cycles. Meanwhile the Haemodorum planfolium population, if burnt too frequently, may incur a depleted seed bank and be unable to produce new seed until the bee populations recover. This is just one case study in a complex and dynamic community of plants and their pollinators.