Shifting restoration’s mindset away from the ‘Garden of Eden’

garden of edenThere has been a recent recommendation to set restoration baselines as pre-degradation ecological communities. However this is a nostalgic aspiration, akin to restoring the ‘Garden of Eden’. It is unrealistic, expensive and does not acknowledge ecosystem change. Restoration should respond to the current drivers of biodiversity loss by addressing declines in ecosystem function and provisioning of ecosystem services.

Adam et Ève au Paradis Terrestreby Wenzel Peter, showing wonderful biodiversity but an unrealistic ideal.

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Are you a threat to the Siberian tiger?

tigerYou are probably unintentionally contributing to the future demise of the Siberian tiger. Tiger habitat, predominantly Mongolian oak, is being destroyed by illegal logging. As consumers of oak furniture, which has potentially been illegally sourced from tiger habitat, we are all part of the problem, but we can also be part of the solution. The next time you buy solid oak furniture, ask where it comes from?

The Siberian tiger, at home in the Mongolian oak forests (

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Plant adaptation under a changing climate

plantMany plants, and trees in particular, have been standing where they are today for 100s and even 1000s of years. How have they been able to cope with the changing conditions over such a long time? Will this intrinsic ability to stay put and cope with changing conditions help them survive the rapid and human-induced climate change of today?

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Biodiversity hotspots in South Australia

ResearchBytes_SA-biodiversity-hotspots.jpgSix major biodiversity hotspots have been identified across South Australia, including Western Kangaroo Island, Southern Mount Lofty Ranges, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, Southern Flinders Ranges, Southern Eyre Peninsula and the Lower South East. However  each of these areas is also currently under threat from a combination of habitat fragmentation, invasive species, altered fire regimes and climate change.

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New research outputs from the Lowe lab group

Details of recent research outputs from my group at the University of Adelaide can be found on our website:

A couple of ‘ResearchByte’ articles, recently released, detail a review paper on plant adaptation to climate change, published in Conservation Genetics, and a research paper on identifying centres of plant biodiversity in South Australia, published in PLoS ONE, and can be found here.

Also, you may have seen recent media coverage of my group’s involvement in a legal trial in the US, where four men have pleaded guilty to theft and environmental crimes under the Lacey act. My group were involved in providing the genetic fingerprinting evidence that demonstrated that a batch of big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), sold to guitar companies, had been illegally logged from a protected stand. Check out more details here.

As well as the website, you can follow my group’s scientific undertakings through our Facebook page

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So what is NCRIS and why does it matter?

SKAOver the past few weeks there has been much political ado about the withholding of funding for Australia’s science infrastructure program. But now the funding is secure does anyone really understand what this research infrastructure is and why it is so important to us?

Artists impression of the Square Kilometre Array, part of Australia’s national research infrastructure

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Intergenerational report missing key future threat – climate change

UnknownThe following is an open letter initiated by Dr Andrew Glikson, signed by Australian environmental and climate scientists and as published in The Conversation.

We the undersigned are concerned that the Australian Government’s 2015 Intergenerational Report underestimates the serious threat of global warming to future generations.

Australia’s waterside cities are under threat from rising sea levels unless more is done to stop CO2 emissions (Michael Dawes)

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Move to recognise human epoch – ‘The Anthropocene’

the-anthropocene-eraThe Anthropocene, the geological epoch when humans have had an overriding influence on the earth and its atmosphere, is a step closer to being formally recognised as a geological period – and apparently it all started in 1610!

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Grubs up


Shouldn’t we be taking the idea of eating insects – or entophagy –   a bit more seriously?




A delicious and nutrious meal all wrapped up in a crunchy coating! (zmescience)

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Will the climate debate end up being fought in the courts?


Could politicians and scientists in the future be charged with “climate negligence”?

Implications of climate change on sea level rise effectively communicated (Julie G/Flickr, CC BY-ND)

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