Conservation planning group postdoc April Reside recently visited the small African nation of Swaziland to collaborate with the researchers and masters students at the University of Swaziland. April has had a long standing collaboration with Prof Ara Monadjem and learnt about the conservation planning work in the pipeline there and the research that is being done to feed into protected area management. April gave a seminar to the University of Swaziland on her postdoc work, see the details below.
Abstract: Long-term conservation of biodiversity requires managing current areas of high value, but also management of areas most likely to be valuable according to best estimates of the future. Importantly, areas required for species to track their suitable habitat with changing climate should also be protected and restored. For maximum benefit, these conservation efforts can also incorporate strategies for carbon storage and sequestration without jeopardising biodiversity priorities. Once priority areas are located, protecting existing areas or restoration altered ones can be scheduled. I show the work that has been done for the impact of climate change on Australian vertebrates, and demonstrate how integrated planning for climate-change adaptation can be achieved for a region in northern Australia. We modelled the distributions of all vertebrates found in this region for current climate and for each 10-year time step to 2085. Using current distributions, the median output model (across 18 Global Circulation Models) for predicted future distributions, and Maximum Potential Biomass as our indicator of carbon sequestration value, we ran the Zonation conservation-prioritisation software. The resulting prioritisation incorporated all the areas of highest carbon because biodiversity and carbon value both peaked in rainforest that borders the savanna. Additionally, high-altitude areas will increase in importance for species moving upslope to adjust to increasing temperatures. We demonstrate how multiple time horizons and objectives need to be included in conservation planning to ensure the long-term persistence of species.
Biography: April’s research focuses on climate change impacts and biodiversity conservation using spatial modelling to feed into Natural Resource Management and government planning for climate change adaptation. April studied zoology at the University of Melbourne, then spent a year as a research assistant trapping waterfowl for a stable isotopes study into diet and movement, before taking off chasing bats on three continents and eight countries as a research assistant and volunteer. She worked for an NGO Australian Wildlife Conservancy before beginning a PhD on savanna birds. April’s PhD: “Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability: Novel methods for understanding potential impacts on Australian Tropical Savanna Birds” adapted species distribution modelling techniques to account for temporal and spatial variability in the distributions of highly vagile bird species. All the while April has been involved in various projects including on plants, modelling applied to marine systems, rainforest and wetland birds, threatened species recovery for the Black-throated Finch, and local environmental issues with the North Queensland Conservation Council.