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Posts by rocioponcereyes

Forecasting ecosystem responses to climate change across Africa’s Albertine Rift

QENP grasslands_nsavAcacia brachystegiaQueen Elizabeth National Park, Acacia brachystegia grasslands (Northern Savannah) by Andy Plumptre


In a new paper, available online now in Biological Conservations, Rocio together with researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland assessed the potential impact of climate change on the distributions of ecosystems.The distribution effects that we investigated here that may result from climate change are six: contraction, expansion or shifting of existing ecosystems, creation of new ecosystems, complete destruction to ecosystems, or no change to ecosystem distribution.

Usually, assessments of climate change tend to be primarily species-focused and they do not estimate directly how entire ecosystems may change. In this paper, we use an ecosystem-based modelling approach to provide a region-wide climate change vulnerability assessment of the seven major ecosystems across Africa’s Albertine Rift. The Albertine Rift is a global biodiversity hotspot, containing more endemic vertebrates than anywhere else in Africa. We used Maxent to, first, estimate each ecosystem’s extent using current climate data, and, then, to project the potential distribution of each ecosystem for 2050 and 2070.

The results founded that suitable environmental conditions for most ecosystems are predicted to contract rapidly in extent and shift upwards in altitude. High-altitude ecosystems and the endemic species they support are at immediate risk, owing to rapid predicted shrinkage in their suitable extent. Only one of the studied ecosystems (the Combretum-grasslands savannah) was predicted to expand, with suitable conditions increasing by 32% in area by 2050. The extent and structure of boundary zones between the Rift’s ecosystems may change significantly through time, due to the contractions and shifts of the environmental conditions for existing ecosystem distributions. Sadly, by 2070, 44% of the region could be climatically unsuitable for the current ecosystems.

Conservation planning across the Rift will need to account for the ecosystem shifts and rapidly changing boundary zones to ensure the long-term persistence of the many endemic species. Beyond the Albertine Rift, this ecosystem-based modelling technique can be adapted to any terrestrial region, providing critical information for conservation vulnerability assessments.

Freely available until 18th May 2017 here: or contact me.


Reference: Ponce-Reyes, R., A. J. Plumptre, D. Segan, S. Ayebare, R. A. Fuller, H. P. Possingham, and J. E. M. Watson. 2017. Forecasting ecosystem responses to climate change across Africa’s Albertine Rift. Biological Conservation 209:464-472.

Come Together for the threatened species in the Brigalow Belt


We are very excited to to announce our new report ‘Priority Threat Management for Imperilled Species of the Queensland Brigalow Belt’ (PDF) (see The Conversation article, CSIRO website).

Ponce Reyes, R., Firn, J., Nicol, S., Chadès, I., Stratford, D.S., Martin, T.G., Whitten, S., Carwardine, J. (2016) Priority Threat Management for Imperilled Species of the Queensland Brigalow Belt CSIRO, Brisbane.



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eating insects to …

… improve the protein uptake and therefore the health of millions of people globally;

…reduce the land clearing and use of pesticides while obtaining economic profit;

…reduce the carbon dioxide an methane emission

In our  new paper:Exploiting a pest insect species Sphenarium purpurascens for human consumption: ecological, social, and economic repercussions published in the first issue of the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed we developed a model of sustainable exploitation for pest insect species and explore the potential benefits to humans in different areas, like health/nutrition, conservation, economy and even climate change!

Please contact me if you would like a copy of the paper!

The picture below is by Rene Cerritos the lead author of this paper.

Bon appétit!

by Rene Cerritos

by Rene Cerritos

CDT x EDG seminar series #12: Dr. Ronny Groenteman

CSIRO_widescreen10th octt14

2 for 1: New Zealand’s weed biocontrol in a nutshell plus a close-up examination of a case study on what we could do to overcome biocontrol scepticism

 Ronny Groenteman1, Simon Fowler1, Jon Sullivan2, Yvonne Buckley3, Rob Salguero-Gómez4

1Landcare Research, 2Lincoln University, 3Trinity College Dublin, 4University of Queensland.

Biological control of weeds research in New Zealand is primarily done by a small group at the Crown Research Institute Landcare Research. In this talk I will give an overview of how our science works hand in hand with operative programmes, and will touch on why our regulatory system works well. I will then dwell on the successful programme against St. John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum – a case study selected to demonstrate the connection between biocontrol and weed populations decline. Demonstrating cause and effect in biological control is no easy undertaking yet it is crucial for us to provide strong scientific evidence of biocontrol effectiveness. The St. John’s wort project includes an intensive field experiment, multi-model inference approach to data analysis, and finally, periodic Integrated Projection Modelling approach to describe the population demography of the weed in the presence and absence of biocontrol. How effective will this undertaking be in convincing sceptics that biocontrol can work is yet to be seen. What is clear is that the resources required for such studies are vast and we must think carefully about the circumstances where this approach will advance decision making not only in a given programme, but in biocontrol science & practice a whole.

CDT x EDG seminar series #11: Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pichancourt

CSIRO_widescreen12th sept14

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CDT x EDG seminar series #10: Dr. Marta Pascual Altares

CSIRO_ 1August_abstract

CDTx EDG seminar series #6


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Geographical surrogates of genetic variation for selecting island populations for conservation

In this paper we explored three simple and cost-effective geographical measures to maximise genetic and phenotypic variation in fragmented populations when setting conservation priorities.We were interested in finding simple surrogates because limited financial resources usually constrain the allocation of funds to only a subset of threatened species’ populations. We tested our surrogates on two species of birds with differing genetic population structure (Zosterops flavifrons and Z. lateralis) in the Vanuatu archipelago.

for more information please contact me:

CDTx EDG seminar series #5

Conservation Decisions Team and EDG,UQ seminar series (Friday 14th March at 3 pm) EcoSciences Prescinct:

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CDTx EDG seminar series #4

Friday 14th February 3 pm,  Dr. Duan Biggs (UQ) will be presenting The wicked problem of conserving iconic species: making science and economic policy innovations relevant  Read more

CDTx EDG seminar series #3

January 17th (3pm), Dr Shaun Coutts (Buckley Ecology Lab, UQ) will be doing a presentation on Why conservation researchers don’t do sensitivity analysis, and why they really should. Please come along ( CSIRO EcoSciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park 4102 QLD- Rooms GA603): Read more

CDTx EDG seminar series #2

On Friday the 8th of November 2013, we had Dr Ross Dwyer ( from the ECO-Lab at UQ visiting us and giving a talk about telemetry and the R-based software that he and his colleagues have developed to analyse the telemetric data they gather in the field-especially to get to know the life of estuarine crocodiles. Read more

CDTx EDG seminar series #1

Please come along (CSIRO EcoSciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park 4102 QLD- Rooms GA603-604):

A crocodile’s tale: challenges and opportunities in animal telemetry research Read more

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