The theme for AWMS 2017 was a celebration of our 30th anniversary. We were privileged to hear from founding members of the society, who opened and closed the conference with their views on how wildlife management has progressed over the decades (and entertained us with photos of their respective PPE and work habits). The conference highlighted for me the important role that AWMS plays as a venue supporting applied ecological science – addressing fundamental issues of wildlife management with practical approaches.
Continuing this tradition, we are pleased to announce that we have two new awards to support research collaboration. The Joan Southgate award will contribute to fostering relationships between AWMS members and Southern African researchers. The Mike Braysher award focusses on building projects around community issues.
In addition, the Society places substantial emphasis on supporting students and early career researchers. A third of our members are students, and possibly the same would consider themselves ‘early career’. We continue to support students, early researchers, and practitioners through our annual prizes, to grow our understanding of Australian and New Zealand wildlife management.
The 30th annual Australasian Wildlife Management conference was held at The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, NSW, in early December 2017. “Wildlife Management: Past, Present and Future” was chosen as the theme to coincide with AWMS celebrating 30 years! The conference was attended by over 110 participants from a range of wildlife management backgrounds, and included a representative from the South African Wildlife Management Society, Paul Gobler who presented ‘Sustainable wildlife management: striking a balance’.
Whilst all the talks in the many sessions, and posters, were informative and participants gained a lot from attending, the talks presented by some of “the oldies” were insightful, and perhaps at times “very insightful”, providing perspectives on changes and issues that remain hotly debated in wildlife management. Thanks to Richard Southgate, Glen Saunders, John Parks, Richard Nugent, Mike Braysher, Jasmyn Lynch, Terry Korn and Jim Hone, for summarising many of the key issues that have been the focus for AMWS over the last 30 years and continue to be the focus into the future.
A session on ‘Food Webs’ was supported by Elsevier. Additional conference sponsors are gratefully acknowledged - Australian Telemetry Systems, Faunatech, Professional trapping Supplies, Lotek, Sleepy hollows Nesting Boxes and Waratah Ecoworks.
Congratulations to Patrick Garvey who was awarded the D. W. Cooper Thesis Award and Laura Tan for the AWMS Postgraduate Student Research Award .
The ‘Icebreaker’ was held at the Katoomba Brewing Company and allowed everyone to reacquaint or meet. A good time was had by all at the conference dinner at the Carrington. The 1930s-theme bought out many gangsters and other era-specific costumes. Although there was some very stiff competition, Andrew Bengsen won the best dressed male, and Konnie Gebauer wearing a black cocktail dress with peacock feather headband won best dressed female.
The photo competition was fierce this year with Chantelle Derez taking out the Fauna/Wildlife category and ‘People’s Choice’ for her gecko in the spotlight, Greg Baxter for a polar bear among artic ice in the Landscape category, and Peter Fleming taking out the Human Dimensions category with a picture of Guy Ballard collecting scats.
Special mention to Megan Fabian for organising the Postgraduate workshop and student dinner. Students had the opportunity to hear from, and ask questions from men and women at a range of levels and experience in government and private industry. Discussions included how to balance life and career, and how to find employment in wildlife managament. Both government and private industry employees were represented. The student dinner was held at Station Bar. We believe it was ‘pretty tame’ because it finished early in preparation for the sessions the next day, but it was great to see the level of engagement in networking opportunities.
The pre-conference reintroduction workshop was a crash course in reintroduction science. The workshop covered a broad range of principles for successful reintroductions and discussed a series of good and bad case studies from around the world. Attendees participated in some group learning activities designed to promote deeper consideration of some of the factors that may assist or impede reintroductions.
The post-conference Elsevier writing workshop provided an overview of ethics, plagiarism, data storage, and impact factors in publishing; as well as a mentored writing session to help authors’ scope an idea for their next project/paper. Thanks goes to Peter Fleming for providing lots of advice and support in this session.
I would like to make a special mention to Hayley Stannard, Jai Green-Barber, Edward Narayan, Megan Fabian, Chandni Sengupta, Tarnya Cox, Shannon Dundas and Konnie Gebauer who were the conference organising committee for the conference, without which it would not have been the success that it was.
The AWMS2017 conference was held at the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, NSW and attracted 135 delegates. The theme for the conference was ‘Wildlife Management – Present, Past and Future’. This year we were able to offer very exiting workshops before and after the conference. On Monday we had the Reintroduction Specialist Group workshop (20 participants) and the Student Mentor Workshop (27 participants), followed by a wonderful Icebreaker event in the Brewery of the Carrington Hotel. As with every year, we had a great poster happy hour on Tuesday followed by the student dinner, and on Wednesday we held the AGM followed by a wonderful conference dinner with a 1930s theme to celebrate the 30th annual AWMS conference. On Friday we finished our program with the Elsevier Writing Workshop (15 participants). Originally, we also had two field trips in the program (one with a local ranger to Echo Point on Monday, and a Walkabout tour on Friday), however, due to a lack of bookings we did cancel the field trips. The conference was a pleasure to organise due to the fantastic work by the local conference committee and the generous time commitment of volunteer mentors and presenters for the workshops!
Sponsors for AWMS2017
Trade exhibitors at AWMS2017
This report relates to the period of 1/11/2016 to 30/6/2017. This reflects the change in financial year that was established at the 2016 AGM. As such, no comparison between this year and previous years is possible. However, based on the status of the accounts as of 30/6/2017 the AWMS financial position is in a stable and improving condition. The total assets were $211,577. A full breakdown is below.
Total income (including donations) was $182,348, which provided a net income before tax of $124,956. A breakdown is provided below.
Our membership numbers have decreased slightly although it should be acknowledged that the AWMS financial year has been reset to align with the standard financial year. The figures presented in this report therefore only represent a partial year (1st November 2016 – 30th June 2017). At the end of the financial year for 2016-2017 we had 210 members, which is similar to last year (213 members). Prior to this year’s conference we had an influx of new members registering (22 students, 13 full, 2 retired, 1 institutional – these will be included in next year’s membership figures).
We are looking at a few options to assist with retaining members, such as automatic renewals. In addition, I have put forth a constitutional change to be discussed at this AGM which will allow new members to apply and pay in one transaction.
If anyone has any suggestions or comments related to increasing or retaining members, I would love to hear them. Is there something you would like as a ‘perk’ for being an AWMS member? Would a discounted membership rate make you more inclined to renew your membership for multiple years? I would especially like to hear from students – why did you join AWMS? Are you likely to keep your AWMS membership after you graduate?
Figures for 2017-2021 are current as at 30 June2017. "Number" indicates total number of financial members for that AWMS financial year.
You can read about the work of our Postgraduate Award winner Laura Tan in this issue of the newsletter.
You can read more about the work of our other award winners (Best student presentation, Best student poster and D.W. Cooper Award) in our July Newsletter.
The 2017 Postgraduate Student Award winner is Laura Tan, for her project investigating corvid ecology to better combat ravens preying on clutches of a burrow-nesting bird.
The intelligence and adaptability of Corvids (ravens, crows) contributes to their ability to shift foraging strategies to exploit new prey (Marzluff & Neatherlin 2006), and coupled with their abundance this makes them difficult to manage (Bolton et al. 2007). The consequences for the prey include compromised population viability, and where prey are economically valuable (Admiraal et al. 2013), predation could detrimentally affect associated economically and socially significant industries such as ecotourism (e.g. Rowat & Engelhardt 2007). Recently in southern Australia, Little Ravens (Corvus mellori) have been identified as an emerging threat to the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) population on Phillip Island (Victoria). Little Ravens now actively and systematically target eggs in penguin burrows, resulting in significant penguin clutch loss of up to 60 % (Ekanayake et al. 2015a,b,c). This depredation has emerged in the last few years and is apparently increasing, but its extent has only been quantified recently.
In conjunction with Phillip Island Nature Parks, we have identified key information gaps which currently prevent the implementation of successful, long-term corvid management. On Phillip Island, most penguin clutch loss appears to be attributable to a small number of ravens (Ekanayake unpubl. PhD data). Corvids have the ability to share learned information and skills with conspecifics (Jolles et al. 2013) and sharing of skills may occur only between birds with high genetic relatedness (Holzhaider et al. 2011). Ravens have a broad diet (Rowley & Vestjens 1973), and analysis of collected feather, faecal, and blood samples will allow us to examine the dietary composition of Little Raven individuals and the role Little Penguin plays in their diet. It may also potentially identify additional raven individuals preying on penguin clutches. There is a critical need to identify culprit birds and examine to what degree skill transmission occurs, to make an informed decision on how best to manage this intelligent and abundant species, and protect the iconic Little Penguin population. By identifying culprits, examining their diet, and investigating the genetic links between individual ravens, we aim to determine the relevance of genetic and social relatedness to transmission of egg predation skills. This research provides Phillip Island Nature Parks with vital information on whether targeting individual culprit birds represents a feasible solution, enabling effective threat mitigation. Given the abundance of corvids, their adaptive nature, and ability to exploit vulnerable species, the results of this study will have applications for corvid management programs worldwide.
Remote camera footage of a raven observing the inside of a penguin burrow while the adult penguin is present. An adult penguin typically remains with the clutch until chicks have reached around 2 weeks of age.
A raven with a penguin egg after successfully breaching a penguin burrow.
An example of roof holes some ravens create to obtain access to penguin eggs or chicks.
Remote camera footage of a colour-banded raven eating a penguin egg successfully obtained from the pictured burrow.
Fieldwork (observations and camera-monitoring of burrows to identify culprit ravens) has been completed for this project, and through laboratory work we aim to establish Little Raven diet composition through stable isotope analysis and DNA diet analysis, and the genetic relatedness between egg-eating ravens and those that do not eat penguin eggs/chicks. We are currently preparing 197 unique raven samples to send to the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) for genotyping, using 19 microsatellite markers identified in other corvid species (Haas & Hansson 2008) which have successfully amplified against our Little Raven samples. We have also recently received results from a small feasibility study we conducted on DNA diet analysis using raven faecal samples, and look to analyse our remaining faecal samples using this method. DNA diet analysis will complement stable isotope analyses that is to be conducted, to gain a broader understanding of raven diet composition and potentially assist in identifying culprit birds.
Funding from AWMS allows us to complete PCR work for our genetic relatedness samples, and also allows us to proceed and examine our remaining faecal samples. Little is known about the diet composition of Australian corvid species, and at present DNA diet analysis has not previously been conducted on any Australian corvid species. Understanding raven diet will further assist us in more accurately determining the relevance of genetic relatedness on raven predation of penguin clutches, and informing direction for corvid management.
Thank you AWMS!
Admiraal, J. E., Wossink, A., de Groot, W. T., and de Snoo, G. R. (2013). More than total economic value: How to combine economic valuation of biodiversity with ecological resilience. Ecological Economics 89, 115-122.
The minutes from the 2017 AGM can be found here. Highlights from the meeting include:
New Office Bearers:
*The Student Representative (AUS) was decided upon after the AGM as there were multiple nominations received during the AGM and the nominees elected to choose the representative among themselves.
SAVE THE DATE! December 4-6, 2018
This newsletter reflects the opinions of the author(s) but not necessarily those of the AWMS Committee or membership. AWMS makes no claim as to the accuracy of stated claims and any party using this information does so at their own risk.