Saving our Species research projects

The Saving our Species team program funds a range of research projects to improve our knowledge of threatened species, ecological communities and threats.

Find out more about the research streams and resources resulting from Saving our Species research.

What we are doing

These are some of the research projects currently being undertaken by the Saving our Species team.

Sphagnum Frog, Philoria sphagnicolusAdaptive capacity in mountain-top frogs

Science and Research Grant $30,000 over 3 years

Lead partner

University of Newcastle

Project partners

  • Department of Planning Industry and Environment

Project title

Determining adaptive capacity of mountain top frogs to climate change predictions

Target species, communities and threats

Sphagnum frog (Vulnerable, NSW), Pouched frog (Vulnerable, NSW)

Project description

High altitude frogs are predicted to be impacted by climate change due to loss of habitat. This project will study the ability of frogs in northern NSW to cope with higher temperature and less moisture. The study will look at multiple populations of both species using a metabolic chamber to study basal metabolic rate at a range of naturally-occurring temperatures. It will help inform management for their survival under changing environmental conditions.

Timeframe

2017-20

Updating fire frequency thresholds for threatened species

Science and Research Grant $140,000 over 2 years

Lead partner

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Project partners

  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Wollongong
  • NESP Threatened Species Hub
  • Rural Fire Service

Project title

Review and update of fire frequency thresholds for all threatened species

Target species, communities and threats

Key threatening process; fire

Project description

Fire is one of the most critical forces in the Australian landscape. Fires that happen too frequently can seriously damage ecosystems; too infrequently, and fire-dependent plants and animals will disappear. To make matters more complicated, these thresholds are often different for different species. Researchers in this project worked closely with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), as well as experts on how fire affects plants and animals. The results address the impact of seasonality, severity and spatial extent of fire on threatened species, providing a framework for including threatened species, populations, and ecological communities in the RFS Bushfire Environmental Assessment Code (PDF 2.2MB). These guidelines will also be used to inform conservation projects for all threatened species which are exposed to fire.

Timeframe

2016-18, completed 2018

Resources

  • Report (in prep): Recommended Fire Frequency Thresholds for Threatened Flora in NSW

Male Petalura gigantea Giant dragonflyResilience in swamp communities

Science and Research Grant $70,000 over 3 years

Lead partner

Macquarie University

Project partners

  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • Blue Mountains Local Council

Project title

Building the resilience of swamp communities to environmental change in the Sydney Basin

Target species, communities and threats

Swamp threatened ecological communities

  • Blue Mountains Swamp
  • Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamp
  • Coastal upland Swamp
  • Montane Peatland and Swamps

Project description

Swamps in the Sydney Basin Bioregion are critical for maintaining hydrological functions and providing ecological resources but are under significant threat from land clearing, urban and industrial development. This can lead to sedimentation, eutrophication and weed invasion. Consequently, many swamp habitat areas in the Sydney Basin are listed as vulnerable or endangered, along with their vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. The macroinvertebrates of swamp communities and their ecosystem functions will be measured from across threatened swamp communities. Using techniques like eDNA, genetic dispersal capacity and adaptive variation will be used to understand how resilient these communities are to change.

Timeframe

2018-21

Developing conceptual models for monitoring

Science and Research Grant $145,000 over 2 years

Lead partner

University of Queensland

Project partners

  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub

Project title

Guidelines for estimating and evaluating species' response to management

Target species, communities and threats

All site-managed and landscape-managed species

Project description

Designed to support the SoS Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting framework, this project provides a scientifically rigorous evidence base for evaluating species' response to management under SoS. The project supports SoS in clearly articulating targets for population outcomes and reporting on success to government and the community in a meaningful way. The guidelines provide SoS project coordinators with a step by step approach to using conceptual models for selecting relevant indicators and estimating a species' expected response to management for these indicators. Conceptual modelling is a useful technique that can help experts test and formalise their knowledge about a species and the threats it faces. It can also be used to assist in the selection of indicators for species monitoring. Conceptual models take various forms ranging from a simple text narrative to tables, or diagrams using boxes and arrows. A series of case studies were developed that span taxonomic groups, habitat types, threats and data availability levels to demonstrate the development and use of conceptual models. Conceptual models are a particularly attractive tool for the SoS program as they are able to combine monitoring data with expert knowledge to create an overall description of the processes occurring at each site (and are a requisite component of project monitoring plans).

Timeframe

2016-18, completed 2018

Resources

Saving our Species Guidelines for Estimating and Evaluating Species' Response to Management

Making decisions that protect species' future ranges

Science and Research Grant $124,000 over 2 years

Lead partner

Macquarie University

Project partners

  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • University of New South Wales
  • NSW Adaptation Research Hub (Biodiversity Node)

Project title

Maximising the adaptive capacity of threatened species and ecological communities - using range of metrics to evaluate SoS projects' likelihood of maintaining adaptive capacity

Target species, communities and threats

All site-managed species

Project description

As climate conditions change, it's essential to protect the places where species will live in the future, as well as where they live now. This project assessed the adaptive capacity of all species in site-managed conservation projects, incorporating current and future conditions. Each existing site-based project was studied to see how well it incorporates planning for increased temperatures. The team made recommendations for new management locations, and designed tools that help pick the best future sites for newly listed species.

Timeframe

2016-18, completed 2018, extension project underway.

Resources

Finding statewide conservation investment hotspots

Science and Research Grant $195,000 over 2 years

Lead partner

CSIRO

Project partners

  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Project title

Integration of all spatial priority data into a single analysis, informing statewide investment benefiting species, endangered ecological communities, and threats

Target species, communities and threats

Program strategy

Project description

SoS funds hundreds of separate projects across the state. But what could be accomplished if we found ways to identify projects that overlap? Finding hotspots where more than one species is being conserved allows us to concentrate our efforts and more effectively use our resources i.e. one team could make a single trip to a site, instead of multiple trips by different people. People working at the same site can share information and work together. The cost savings helps SoS support more species overall. This project produced map-based tools to guide conservation investment and the selection of new sites over time.

Timeframe

2016-18, completed 2018, extension project underway

Resources

  • Project Summary
  • Report: Integration of all spatial priority data
  • Web-based spatial tool

Targeting feral pests without harming pregnant quollsSpotted-tail quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)

Science and Research Grant $130,000 over 2 years

Lead partner

Department of Primary Industries

Project partners

  • Cooperative Research Centre for Invasive Species
  • Department of Planning Industry and Environment
  • Local Land Services

Project title

Investigating impacts of high intensity spring baiting on survival and recruitment of juvenile spotted-tailed quolls

Target species, communities and threats

Spotted-tailed quoll, Key threatening processes; feral foxes, feral dogs, feral cats

Project description

The project aims to improve understanding of the impacts of aerial baiting on quolls, cats, dog and foxes. The Spotted-tailed Quoll Dasyurus maculatus is the Australian mainland's largest carnivorous marsupial. It is categorised as a landscape species under the SoS program. Aerial baiting is effective for dogs and foxes, and initial evidence suggests that it also significantly depresses cat numbers. This project asked whether aerial baiting is successful at reducing cats, and whether this would have negative impacts on quolls. Researchers found that these methods were effective for depressing cat numbers and did not negatively impact adult or juvenile quolls.

Timeframe

2016-18, completed 2018

Resources

  • Management recommendation: Aerial baiting at a maximum rate of 40 baits per linear kilometre does not have any overt negative impact on female quolls and their ability to raise young.
  • Presentation at the NSW Vertebrate Pest Management Symposium, Coffs Harbour, 16-18 October 2018.
  • Peer-reviewed publication: Monitoring impacts of aerial baiting for wild dogs on female spotted-tailed quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) during the breeding season (in prep).

Managing noisy miners to protect eucalypt forests from diebackNoisy Miner birds Manorina melanocephala

Key Threatening Process Strategy $235,052 over 3 years

Lead partner

University of New England

Project partners

  • Australian Museum
  • University of Queensland

Project title

Managing miners: quantifying the where and when of successful noisy miner removals for land managers

Target species, communities and threats

Key threatening process; noisy miners

Project description

Noisy miners favour open, lightly timbered areas and habitat edges and have benefited from the large scale vegetation changes in Australia since European settlement. Noisy miners now dominate many small forest and woodland habitat including urban bushland and 'leafy' parks and gardens. Through their cooperative aggressive behaviour noisy miners physically attack and actively drive away birds of similar or smaller size. 'Aggressive exclusion of birds from woodland and forest habitat by abundant noisy miners Manorina melanocephala' has been listed as a Key Threatening Process (KTP) by the Scientific Committee. By undertaking a comprehensive and systematic review of all past noisy miner removal attempts, this project aims to refine protocols for the removal of miners from small, localised sites identified in the noisy miner KTP as requiring urgent intervention on a small scale, such as the presence of threatened taxa such as breeding regent honeyeaters. Refining these protocols will be informed through direct interviews with land managers, reviews of relevant grey and peer-reviewed literature, and an analysis of current, ongoing management attempts. The project will also identify and quantify movement and colonisation strategies of noisy miners across the fragmented woodland zones of New South Wales, including in association with large-scale experimental removals, through mapping gene flow and habitat fragmentation on a landscape scale.

Timeframe

2018-21