Ecology in Practice - Thomas Wright, Senior Ecologist, AECOM
VCE Environmental Science Unit 3: Biodiversity ECOLOGY IN PRACTICECreated by Thomas Wright – Senior Ecologist, AECOMSponsored by AGL Energy Limited as part of the Macarthur Wind Farm Project
Overview• Landscape Ecology - Fragmentation – Definition and concepts – Examples of edge-effects• Ecology in the Field – Case Study: construction of a wind farm
Landscape Ecology - Definition• How does the environment affect species distribution.• Environment can mean: – Natural (forests, grasslands, oceans, etc.) – Anthropogenic (paddocks, cities, roads, etc.)
Landscape Ecology - Definition• Fragmentation is the division of habitat or ecosystems into smaller and disconnected patches/fragments.• Fragmentation effects can be divided into: – Between fragment-effects (connectivity, isolation, dispersal); and – Within fragment-effects (edge effects, disturbances).
Landscape Ecology – Between- fragment Effects• Patch/fragment – homogenous area with certain spatial features (size, length, width, distance to next patch).• Isolation/connectivity - how isolated/connected one patch is to another. Is species specific.• Matrix – the background landscape species are required to disperse through.
Southern Brown Bandicoot• Is listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act• Found in southern South Australia, southern Victoriaand eastern New South Wales.• Prefers coastal heathland, heathy forests and forests where there is plenty ofground protection.• Main threats are: •C •H •I •P •P •O• Victorian populations occur around Warrnambool-Otway Plains, lowlandGippsland, Western Gippsland Plain and Greater Grampians.• Gippsland populations is within Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary.
Landscape Ecology – Within- fragment Effects• Edge effects – interaction between two contrasting patches resulting in altered biology and physical conditions at edges.
Ecology in the Field –Construction of a Wind farm
Wind farm plan Flora and Fauna Surveys VICTORIAN Remnant VICTORIAN COMMONWEALTH Vegetation – FFG Act- EPBC Act-listed NetGain listed Items Items Referral to Offset Permit to CommonwealthManagement Plan DSE Environment Minister
Wind farms• Potential risks to birds and bats – Direct, i.e. collision – Indirect • Loss of habitat • Avoidance of nesting sites • Noise and other disturbances during construction• AUSWEA guidelines for bird and bat surveys• DNWFDG – survey guidelines (draft)
• Bird surveys on Wind Farms • Species • Height • Number • Flight behaviour – Hovering, circling, horizontal, vertical • Migratory or sedentary• Bat surveys on Wind Farms • ANABAT – records echolocation calls • Indirect and direct observations by observers
• General Surveys – Habitat – Nests/Potential Nesting Sites
Wind farms – post construction• Ongoing Monitoring • Bird-deaths near wind farms• Auditing • Companies compliance with environmental management plans – Sound – Visual impact – Pollution – Occupational Health and Safety
References• Sub-regional strategy for Southern Brown Bandicoot: http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/12 7760/DRAFT-Southern-Brown-Bandicoot- Strategy_web.pdf• Birds and windfarms: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/wind- farm-bird-risk.html• Draft National Wind Farm Development Guidelines – Bird Survey: http://www.agk.com.au/coopersgap/assets/downloads/2_ -_Draft_NWFD_Guidelines.pdf