Good news: climate change won’t appreciably impact outback mammals

From the UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY:

Feral animals pose major threat to Outback, climate change study finds

Australia has lost about 30 mammal species since European arrival

Scientists at the University of Sydney have analysed up to 22 years of long-term monitoring data on plants and animals in central Australia to project how changing rainfall and wildfire patterns, because of climate change, will influence desert wildlife.

The research from the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences found there could be decreases in the cover of the dominant plant, spinifex, and a resulting decrease in seeding – and that introduced cats and foxes pose one of the major threats to seed-eating rodents.

Spinifex is a major habitat type across central Australia – from Queensland to Western Australia, including in the Simpson Desert where this study was conducted.

Lead author Dr Aaron Greenville captures the splendour of central Australia’s Simpson Desert. This photo was taken in the south-west of Queensland. CREDIT Dr Aaron Greenville

The findings are being published in the Royal Society’s journal Open Science.

Some estimates have suggested that up to one in six species are at risk from climate change. Predators can take advantage of more open habitats for hunting, which puts more pressure on wildlife.

Lead author Dr Aaron Greenville said their model suggested that if removing introduced cats and foxes, the rodent population would increase by almost one in 10.

“The dingo plays a complex positive role for wildlife in arid Australia,” said Dr Greenville.

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The researchers, Dr Aaron Greenville, Professor Glenda Wardle and Professor Chris Dickman, in addition to working in the Faculty of Science, are affiliated with the Desert Ecology Research Group and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network in Australia.

The paper, “Desert mammal populations are limited by introduced predators rather than future climate change”, will be available online at http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rsos.170384


Abstract (bold mine)

Climate change is predicted to place up to one in six species at risk of extinction in coming decades, but extinction probability is likely to be influenced further by biotic interactions such as predation. We use structural equation modelling to integrate results from remote camera trapping and long-term (17–22 years) regional-scale (8000 km2) datasets on vegetation and small vertebrates (greater than 38 880 captures) to explore how biotic processes and two key abiotic drivers influence the structure of a diverse assemblage of desert biota in central Australia. We use our models to predict how changes in rainfall and wildfire are likely to influence the cover and productivity of the dominant vegetation and the impacts of predators on their primary rodent prey over a 100-year timeframe. Our results show that, while vegetation cover may decline due to climate change, the strongest negative effect on prey populations in this desert system is top-down suppression from introduced predators

 

 

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44 thoughts on “Good news: climate change won’t appreciably impact outback mammals

  1. The study is obviously wrong – Climate change affects everything negatively

  2. Our results show that, while vegetation cover may decline due to climate change …

    And maybe not.

    • Steve Case

      “Our results show that, while vegetation cover may decline due to climate change …”

      As that’s been comprehensively debunked by NASA even before this was published, he’s up a Gum Tree.

      That’s what these people get for living in their own little bubble.

      • GregK

        The Nature article refers to this NASA research. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

        The results are quite clear, increasing atmospheric CO2 has encouraged a 14% increase in vegetation in 30 years, excluding agriculture. To use a favourite term of the greens ‘unprecedented’. It doesn’t, however, make any claims about CO2’s effect declining with time, this is pure speculation and scaremongering as commercial growers have been pumping poly-tunnels full of CO2, up to 1,500ppm to the best of my understanding, for decades, with no drop off in growth.

        The greens are desperate to rubbish any positive events resulting from climate change. What no one says is that increased greening is the ONLY observable manifestation of increased atmospheric CO2.

        Hurricanes are less frequent and less powerful, drought has reduced, forest fires are fewer, there are fewer tornadoes etc. etc. etc. but no one has any idea why, other than many scientists speculate that it should be the case in a warmer world. Not that they are manifestations of increasing CO2, no one has any evidence for that.

        There is not one single, credible, empirical study that demonstrates CO2 causes the planet to warm. Many have tried but they have all failed.

  3. …found there could be decreases in the cover of the dominant plant, spinifex,…

    So…a more equal balance of plant diversity, then…?

  4. Still at it Anthony, dishing out every manufactured lie you can find? I’m surprised you have the energy after all these years of making it up.
    Must prove you’re paid to do this, how else could you afford to spend so much time rubbishing the work of tens of thousands of highly trained and experienced scientists. It can’t be BP, because they have put their hands up and admitted they funded deniers for years, now they’re investing heavily in renewable energy, wonder why. So is it Shell? They’re a disreputable enough company to be doing it, how much are you worth?
    Since all you manage to convince are a few male teens who left school without qualifications or in some cases the ability to write coherently, how important can your little effort be?
    I’ve come to expect garbage out of Australia, a hotbed of denier shiolls presumably because they’re all such uncouth louts descended from the scum of Europe. Even their parliament is a fightclub. They do come up with some corkers don’t they. Always rely on the ozzies to invent another load of climate bullshit eh digger?

    Go on Anthony, delete this then, I know you don’t allow anything to disturb your hard of thinking little devients.

    (The best you could do is this?) MOD

    • The Fool on the Hill, head spinning round , try reading the article – it is a copy of a paper published by the University of Sydney.

      Fool by name and fool by nature.

    • Fool, why is it so important to you to to paste meaningless insults and childish accusations? What are you trying to gain? Have you nothing constructive you could be doing with your life?

      • Dodgy Geezer

        Awwwww……Dodgy, don’t be mean. It’s the only outlet the poor guy/girl has for his/her frustrations. Sitting alone tapping out insults is a really lonely existence, didn’t you know?

        You and I conduct dialogue, engage in friendly banter, and debate fiercely on subjects related to climate change, politics and life in general. The poor Fool can only dictate to people, that’s a really, really lonely existence knowing more than anyone else and maintaining that superiority.

        Give him/her a break.

    • Well, fool,

      That was a bizarre and quite incoherent little rant.

      Reminds me of that 5 year old chucking a tanty in the supermarket the other day, bacause his mummy wouldn’t buy him a lolly.

    • That’s funny.

      The best shot Fool on the hill has at credibility is to appear on this site, hurl insults at Anthony, any male teen school leaver without qualifications, Australians, Europeans and all the sceptics on the planet. Yet s/he taps away on his/her PC, reliant on fossil fuel for almost every component, drives his/her car, also reliant on fossil fuel, as well as filling it up with fossil fuel, heats his/her house with fossil fuel, cooks his/her food using fossil fuel, and even wear’s clothes a large part of which are likely derived from fossil fuel. But hes not in the pay of BP or Shell.

      The only thing s/he forgot to mention was 97%. Presumably s/he accepts Lord Christopher Moncktons evidence that its fake.

      Oh well, one step at a time.

      I wonder what Fool on the hill does for a living. And what’s a shioll?

  5. I’m not sure that an assumption that climate change will bring ‘more open habitats’ has much basis in fact or reality.

    As we know from NASA data and reports the Earth has increased its vegetation by around 20% over the last 20 or so years as a direct result of increased CO2 levels – and done so during a period where there are (heavily disputed) claims that the earth has warmed further. We also know that deserts such as the Sahel are actually shrinking as plants are able to survive and spread into this arid landscape as a direct result of increased CO2 levels reducing their water requirement for transpitation.

    That suggests to me that any assumption of there being More, rather than Less, open habitats doesn;t seem to fit with what is actually seen and found to be happening.

    • But the vegetation has not increased universally or at the same rate… nor will this necessarily continue under the impact of changed rainfall patterns (or other events -e.g. boreal forest loss due to beetle infestation in a warming climate)

      • Griff,
        I’m not aware that NASA has found or commented that this is anything other than a universal increase in vegetation across the globe. Can you show otherwise ?

        I appreciate how awkward that is for AGW activists and particularly those who keep making the false claim that ‘Deserts are Growing’ when the satellite evidence shows, and NASA states they are shrinking, or those who claim there will be insufficient food for the world’s population when the ever-rising food production figures prove that to be untrue.

        It must be very difficult to be a fervent believer in the Global Warming Religion when the earth resolutely refuses get hotter and hotter as that pseudo-faith wants and needs it to. Just get used to the idea that the public are waking up to the fact that this is about taking money from their pockets and placing ever greater controls on them.

        I think the next few years are going to be very difficult for believers as the religion is fully exposed for what it is and then dies – I suspect from the increasing barrage of ever-wilder climate hysteria claims of late that it is in its early death throes now.

      • Old England, Griff won’t change his religion. He has two fields of science on his side: Climate Science and Astrology. Note that both can look at actual events after a prediction, and say, “Yup, just what was predicted” despite being total opposites.

      • Well griff, even for you , that was a nothing, empty type of post..

        Try making a coherent point next time.

      • Hey Griff,

        where did you get your information from about the extent or rate of vegetation proliferation? The Guardian?

        And it is a well understood fact that vegetation becomes more resistant to disease and pests (except you) the more CO2 it has for growth. Similarly, vegetation doesn’t need as much water to flourish.

        Guess what, much of the vegetation growth observed by NASA was in equatorial desert regions. Funny that.

      • More of your usual rubbish, you paid propagandist for the likes of Gore?

        Have you apologised to Dr. Crockford yet?

  6. It is pretty obvious that the introduction of more CO2 will have a positive effect on dry areas due to the improved water use efficiency of all plants. It is not at all obvious that more CO2 will have a drying effect on the local climate (the sum of local weather).

    As long term records show that in a warmer climate it rains more in deserts, it is far more likely than not we will in the near future find an increase in animal populations, diversity and specialisation for local microclimates.

    The unsubstantiated belief that ‘warmer’ means ‘drier’ is I thin based on the belief that when the atmosphere is warner it will not increase in absolute humidity, clearly not the case even in climate models where water-based feedbacks are supposed to lever temperature change up. Warmer means wetter, all the time.

  7. There is evidence that humans are increasing biodiversity. link

    “The biological processes of evolutionary divergence and speciation have not been broken in the Anthropocene,” Thomas writes. “They have gone into overdrive. … Come back in a million years and we might be looking at several million new species whose existence can be attributed to humans. … In the end, the Anthropocene biological revolution will almost certainly represent the sixth mass genesis of new biological diversity. It could be the fastest acceleration of evolutionary diversification in the last half-billion years.”

    The greenies always wail about the negative things mankind does but never acknowledge the good things. They could find a way to complain about Heaven.

    • “They could find a way to complain about Heaven.”

      But they wouldn’t, they only believe in Gaia and other forms of mysticism such as climate modelling.

    • If we have a lot of new species down the line, we can surely still regret he loss of existing species right now, due to our actions?

      • What species have been lost recently? Other than those the ecologists-“scientists” killed off by bringing in disease and fungii to the amphibians they were paid to study.

      • Griff nothing in climate science is going to save a these animals they are talking about and in fact climate change could help them …. now because you don’t know Australia you won’t know why.

        Most of the areas they are talking about is semi to full desert and they are talking about tiny climate changes. Those animals are adapted to that enviroment the invasive species aren’t. They talked about the ground cover opening up but they didn’t study if the invasive species were going to be able to tolerate the changes.

        They sure fact is these animals are going to go extinct without certain actions regardless of climate change. They need predator and invasive species control and wasting money studying climate change effects is a joke.

      • RACookPE

        You are being just a little bit cruel to Griff – we all know that AGW propagandists don’t like to deal in facts – and anyway he probably hasn’t the faintest idea about the subject.

      • I used to read my dad’s geology texts. I long for trilobites. Perhaps a million years from now some young creature will read his dad’s geology texts and wonder what it was like in a world where herds of homo sapiens roamed free across the landscape.

      • Sadly Griff just as death is the ultimate end to life, extinction is the ultimate end to every species, past and present.

      • Griff

        once again you are talking utter rubbish.

        The total number of mainland species (not sub species) and excluding islands (including Australia) which have been subject to introduced pests like rats, that have been driven to extinction by man, since the 1500’s is 9 (nine).

        Animal extinction e.g. polar bears with which you are familiar, is a hysterical green fallacy.

  8. They really needed to do a study to work that out …you have got to be kidding. This is one of the cases that you can conclude they must have put the climate change stuff in to get funding.

    If we don’t do the fencing and baiting programs on the predators a pile of these outback mammals are going to go extinct many are already suspected to be extinct. The only way these animals are going to be saved is predator-free, predator-controlled and invasive species free areas.

    The whole climate change thing in this context is like sending a patient in for a checkup on a splinter when they are having a heart attack. You may die from an infection from the splinter but it’s not the most pressing matter.

  9. The work done with Quolls to condition them to avoid Cane Toads is a classic example of how an imported species can swiftly become native-species-threatening, and could swiftly lead to its extinction without human intervention.

    Quolls see cane toads as natural prey but the toad is poisonous to them and quolls which eat them die. There is a programme running which captures quolls and feeds them very small quantities of cane toad meat to make them sick and over time creates an avoidance habit. It is hoped that this will become ingrained as averse quolls teach their offspring to avoid cane toads and that this will pass down from generation to generation of quolls who will be conditioned not to kill and eat them.

    Whatever the climate does or doesn’t do in Australia will have no effect on that.

  10. Griff and Fool On The Hill are Scientologists, and hence their science credentials are impeccable! They are on the cutting edge of all science and very soon will clear the planet of non-consensors. Come on, don’t you skeptics know when you have been trumped?

  11. I’m guessing this would lead to mammal species loss-

    “Since their introduction from Europe in the 19th century, the effect of rabbits on the ecology of Australia has been devastating. They are suspected of being the most significant known factor in species loss in Australia.Rabbits are believed to have had an immense impact on the abundance of natural resource availability, primarily concerning overgrazing. The rabbits would first deplete the natural pasture vegetation, and would then resort to consuming woody-vegetation, which included small shrubs, and the leaves and bark of trees. [11]The extent of plant species’ loss is unknown at this time though it is known that rabbits often kill young trees in orchards, forests, and on properties by ringbarking them.[10]

    Rabbits are also responsible for serious erosion problems, as they eat native plants, leaving the topsoil exposed and vulnerable to sheet, gully, and wind erosion. The removal of this topsoil is devastating to the land, as it takes many hundreds of years to regenerate.[12]”

    • Rabbits:

      Bill Mollison told me he was hired as a rabbit catcher when he was young: 6000 acre farm with 6000 rabbits per acre. Not a blade of living grass anywhere. He was paid the rabbits and 1/4 of a sheep per week. He got nothing for the meat but the skins were worth a little. He could only deal with 200 per day. I’d say the rabbit is safe as houses in Aussie Land. Not much else is though.

      • The most successful method for eradicating rabbits in Australia was myxomatosis which drastically reduced their numbers. Some recovery has occurred and a new disease, RHD, has been introduced to further reduce their numbers.

  12. Even better news, Climate Change won’t be having an appreciable effect on climate either. What a relief!

  13. The desert looked in pretty good nick for a desert when I was there earlier in the year , yes feral pests are a problem but that has zero to do with climate .
    We were stopped from taking our planned route across the Simpson desert because of surface water on our chosen route , I later found out this particular crossing had been open 9 months in the last 9 years .

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