Conservation Biology in The Media Report
This Assessment Task pertains to the Learning Outcomes listed below:
Describe conservation biology theory and current conservation problems in Australia and internationally
Examine the literature on conservation issues from peer-reviewed scientific publications and their representation within written media
Demonstrate the ability for literature-based research to key topics in conservation biology, and synthesising current knowledge.
In order to capture reader attention or any other reason, media often misreport scientific results or discoveries.
This happens across many areas of science, but also in conservation biology.
It is critical that scientists can recognize when the media misrepresents other scientists’ work or leaves out important results in order to tell a clear story.
Conservation biologists are often faced with these situations. As such, they must learn to identify discrepancies, communicate their work better to the public, media, managers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders.
This task is to raise awareness about these issues and improve your ability to recognize and assess them. It involves verifying media articles on conservation research that are consulted from both scientific and unscientific literature.
You will evaluate how well the media communicates scientific literature.
To do this you will select two articles from the past (5 years) that each highlight a particular conservation biology journal publication.
Each media article must cover a conservation topic that has a different scientific paper.
Answer to Question: BIOL875 Contemporary Conservation In Australia
Media Article 1.Klein, A. 2017. Foxes seen climbing at night to track down and eat koalas Retrieved 10 May 2017, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120944-foxes-seen-climbing-trees-at-night-to-track-down-and-eat-koalas/
Journal paper 1 by Mella, V.S., McArthur C., Frend R. and Crowther M.S.
Australian arboreal fauna is at risk from foxes in the trees Australian Mammalogy.
Conservation Issue and Significance
Reports and media coverage have highlighted the red fox’s unusual behavior of climbing trees in Australia in order to find koalas.
European Red Foxes were brought into Australia to hunt for recreational purposes. However, they started hunting on native species like wallabies.
It is now found throughout Australia and has caused the decline of several medium-sized marsupial types (Vulpes vulpes 2017).
Red foxes have been documented climbing trees to hunt. Dickman (2014) also provides evidence that redfoxes can engage in a variety of activities.
This is an astonishing finding, as red foxes rarely climb trees.
European foxes are responsible for reducing the population of Australian species that are most endangered.
This discussion indicates that red fox is one of the most invasive Australian species. It has caused a record number mammal extinctions (The Conversation 2017).
Summary of Media Articles:
Klein (2017) has written an article about the threat to Australia’s native mammalian animals after it introduced the European red fox.
The European red Fox was intentionally introduced to Australia in 1855 for recreational hunting. It quickly spread across Australia over a period of 100 years.
Bengsen, Sparkes (2016) questioned the decision to allow foxes to hunt recreationally. They are reducing the population of marsupials and other wildlife.
There is evidence to suggest that there has been a decline in native mammalian biodiversity. Media article also confirmed that footage taken of Koalas living on property in Liverpool Plains showed numerous instances where red foxes scaling the trees.
These amazing findings are remarkable as red foxes are rarely known to climb trees. They were often seen at heights up to 4 meters above the ground.
It was also denied that the foxes might have been drinking water as they did not touch the fountain.
The reason the foxes scaled the tree was because they wanted to target animals that are used living on it.
The trees in Australia have many bumps that make it easier for foxes climb to the trees.
The foxes are curiosities, agile, and opportunistic. This might make it a danger sign for native Australian mammals.
Evaluation of Journal Articles And Media Media
The media article covered the issue of Australia’s red fox introduction, which led to the highest mammalian death.
Mella et al. served as the journal article reference.
(2017) gave evidence regarding red foxes tree climbing behaviour in Australia.
Comparing the journal article to the media article revealed that Klein (2017) only briefly described the Mella et al.
The study was conducted in 2017 by Klein.
Although this has been briefly reported in the media article, the author successfully reports the main extract and summary from the journal.
Accordingly, the journal article showed, just like the media article, that red fox behaviour was observed in the Liverpool Plains.
Water stations were located near the trunk of the eucalypts.
The study found that the fox frequently sniffed the surrounding area instead of drinking it.
A surprising finding was that foxes were able to climb higher than usual to reach the koalas.
This description matches the media article. It also proves there is no gap or misinterpretation in scientific reporting in this media article source.
The same can be said for research by Newsome et.al.
2014) found that current land managers implement isolated control programs in order to reduce red fox numbers and the negative impact it has on Australia’s native fauna.
It has been reported extensively in media reports that the introduction of red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes), has resulted in the loss of Australian fauna (Australian government, 2017).
It’s a supporting piece that confirmed the validity of the journal articles.
The effect of predation from foxes on ground-nesting bird species, medium-sized mammals, and reptiles was that they declined.
This has led to the destruction of many threatened species’ recovery efforts (Fisher et. al. 2014).
This also has economic consequences as the preying upon lambs, kid goats and poultry causes loss for farmers (Dickman (2014)).
Mella et al. analyzed and reviewed the journal article.
The journal article was reviewed by Mella et al. (2017).
The media article presented an accurate analysis of the entire journal article. It mentioned that the opportunistic nature red foxes poses a threat for native Australian mammals.
Overall, the media article succeeded in attracting readers’ attention. The consistency of the content and the journal article also proved that there wasn’t any misleading information.
The journal article only refers to another study which observed red foxes behavior.
Mella et.al. found that foxes climb trees looking for food.
Mella et. al. (2017) provided the first evidence on the new behavior of foxes climbing trees.
It explained that tree climbing behaviour cannot be seen due to lack of food. However, they are attracted towards the tree by the scent of potential gray.
The media article failed to highlight any future plans or research that could improve the situation.
Haddaway 2015 stated that directing further research would have been helpful in reporting on the conservation problem.
The journal article concludes that research regarding the potential of foxes to have arboreal impacts on Australian trees is important for the conservation and protection of Australian forest fauna.
Woinarski et. al. also discuss the evidence concerning the loss of Australian mammals as a result of the red Fox.
Woinarski (2015) said that the red fox has caused habitat loss and human influence to a loss of Australian land animals. They also reported that feral cats and European red-fox predation is a contributing factor in this loss.
This paper is important because it reveals the extent of loss as well as the reasons.
Knowledge or Method Gap
Mella et. al. (2017) summarized the information in a clear and concise journal article. A comparison of journal articles with media also shows consistency in scientific evidence reporting.
The journal article does not have any errors and the quality of scientific reporting can be seen when the journal article and the media article give the same meanings and interpretations of the conservation topic (Ruths und Pfeffer 2014.
The only difference is in the way that reporting is done. A media article cannot be an extended piece like journal articles and therefore everything has been presented in a precise but effective manner.
Another method flaw in the media article was that it did not give any recommendation or policy direction for improving the situation.
This aspect could have been discussed.
Woinarski et.al. have found different levels for reducing the red fox population.
(2014). This was where it was mentioned about the many approaches to protecting arboreal mammals in Australia.
For example, red foxes were removed in areas where black footed wallaby colonies had been established.
This helped to recover several prey species.
The second method of recovery was predator proof fencing. Here, the native animals’ responses were monitored (Hinget al. 2016).
In some cases, threatened mammals were moved to safe areas from cats and foxes.
Therefore, media reports should have included similar information about the actions taken to save endangered mammals from extinction.Conclusion:
The report summarized and contrasted the quality reporting in media articles to determine how it compared to the journal article that it was referring to as evidence.
The media article’s analysis provided insight into the conservation issue regarding the extinction of mammalian populations in Australia due to the introduction of the red Foxes.
Critical analysis revealed that media article accurately understood the methods used in research. Also, the original results were discussed.
There is no bias in reporting.
One limitation was the fact that the media article did NOT discuss the importance and implications of this piece on future research and possible actions.
It would have meant that the area of improvement or future studies would have suggested solutions.
Because the media article cited the introductions of the red fox and other factors that contributed to the decline in mammalian populations, it was obvious that practical management strategies were needed to save and recover these species.
The greater Australian community must take responsibility for protecting endangered species and their biodiversity.
Australian conservation may also have a role to play in maintaining records of distribution data for all species and integrating monitoring programmes to monitor Australia’s mammalian fauna.
This would be a wonderful step to encourage conservation management.
Media Article 2Klein, A. (2017).
Warming seas causing the greatest ocean forest death ever Retrieved 10 May 2017, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2096458-biggest-ever-die-off-of-ocean-forests-triggered-by-warming-seas/Journal 2: Wernberg, T., Bennett, S., Babcock, R.C., de Bettignies, T., Cure, K., Depczynski, M., Dufois, F., Fromont, J., Fulton, C.J., Hovey, R.K., Harvey, E.S., Holmes, T.H., Kendrick, G.A., Radford, B., Santana-Garcon, J., Saunders, B.J., Smale, D.A., Thomsen, M.S., Tuckett, C.A., Tuya, F., Vanderklift, M.A.
Wilson, S. 2016 “Climate-driven climate shift of a temperate ocean ecosystem”, Science, New York, N.Y. 353, no. 6295, pp. 169-172. https://science.sciencemag.org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/content/353/6295/169.full
Conservation: Significance and Problems
The climate change and the increase in global temperatures have an impact on the marine environment (Barange, et al. 2014).
Climate change is also contributing to coral bleaching. This stress, caused by rising water temperatures leading to coral death, is not only a loss of marine species (Burge, et al. 2014).
The coastal kelp forest has been decimated by the rising sea temperatures.
Global climate changes are responsible for the rapid pace at which kelp is disappearing.
Indian Ocean, close to Western Australia, experienced high summer temperatures between 2011 and 2013, due to La Nina weather stage and global warming effect (Marine Problems: Climate Change 2017).
Scientists had warned about the effects of global heating and the potential negative consequences of unpredicted weather events.
The Great Barrier Reef’s destruction will result in the loss of kelp forests in Australia. Therefore, it is important to take all necessary actions to protect this natural resource. (Verges et.al. 2016).
Media Article Summary
Klein (2017) writes a media report on the largest ever impact of rising ocean temperatures on Australia’s Kelp Forest.
Australia’s marine habitat is composed of huge kelp trees, which provide habitat to important commercially valuable marine species.
90% of the Great Southern Reef’s kelp forest can be found in the northern-western area.
These forests are now at risk from climate change (Wahlquist, 2017).
Thousand kilometres worth of kelp forest on the coast of Western Australia was destroyed due to the 2010-2013 marine heat wave.
In 2011, the sea surface temperature has risen to 6 degrees Celsius in certain areas of Western Australia.
This heatwave resulted in 500 km of kelp loss and is also threatening the survival of the northern parts of the kelp forest (The importance of Kelp Forests
Also, no signs of kelp restoration were seen in the 2015 survey, which was conducted in the ocean. The entire kelp forest has been replaced by corals, sea weeds, and tropical fish (Provost and al. 2017).
These species are now found in areas where cold water has been replaced with new warm water.
This marine change will cause kelp forest to retreat further south than the ocean (Klein 2017.
Pecl, et al., have also shown that rising sea levels are the main cause of kelp tree loss. 2017).
This media article highlights the importance to conserve the kelp tree forest. Conservation of coral reefs has received less attention.
Because kelp forest provides oxygen and habitat for many marine organisms, it will have economic and environmental consequences too (Wernberg und al. 2016).
It is imperative to address the problem.
Evaluation of Journal Articles And Media Media
The journal article and media article on the impact of warming ocean on kelp forest were compared. This revealed that there is consistency in both the journal articles and media articles.
Klein (2017) published a media article describing the loss of kelp forest as a result of rising sea temperatures in Australia, and how it was being replaced with tropical fish, sea weeds and corals.
Wernberg (2016) reported in a referring journal that Australia’s temperate coral reef community lost their native kelp forest and was dominated instead by seaweeds, corals, and tropical fishes.
However, the journal article’s scientific approach to reporting clearly explains the reasons why kelp forest has not been improved upon (Ware 2015; Mabe 2015).
However, while the media article indicated that there were not many signs of kelp recoveries as evidenced by a survey expedition report, the journal article suggested that tropicalization of temperate reef communities was a factor in slowing down the recovery of kelp forests.
Bakun et al. support this negative effect of climate changes and an increase in climate variability in a research study.
(2015), which showed that the changes to coastal marine ecosystems are significant.
This study provides a comprehensive explanation of how rising sea temperature affects marine macrophytes.
Journal articles and media articles are different in how they report conservation issues.
The media article directly discusses the destruction and support of kelp forests.
The journal article discusses the effect of ecosystem structure shifts (Bonney et.al. 2014).
Despite not being able to scientifically report the finding, it has highlighted the figures regarding the contraction of kelp forests in the Australian Great Southern Reef.
The journal article was written to demonstrate how marine heatwaves can lead to the loss of kelp forests and cause habitat shifts to seaweed turfs.
The survey method was used by the researcher to explore the ecosystem changes around the 2000km-zone of Western Australia.
This survey was performed between 2001 and 2015.
This is significant because extreme heat waves had already affected western Australia in the year 2001 (Wernberg. 2016).
Although the media article didn’t detail the research method, it did mention the extreme heat wave condition in Australia between 2013 and 2011 (Klein 2017.
Bennett et.al. report the heat wave conditions and their effects on Australia’s neglectedkelp forest. 2016.)
This article highlighted the devastating effects of the heatwave on the Australian marine ecosystem.
The differences in quality and rigour between the journal article and the media piece are evident.
While the media article is a news report format that brings to light the damage caused by heat waves to the kelp trees, the journal article provides evidence of the ocean warming rate globally and the highest rise of western Australia (Spalding et al. 2014).
The discussion also included the difference in kelp covering along the reef before and after extreme marine heat waves.
70% of the reef had kelp trees before 2010, but only 43% of kelp forests along the west coast were left.
Kelp forest recovery is still not happening despite the declining heat wave period.
Instead of recovery, subtropical or tropical fish feeding rates have increased.
The journal and media articles adequately report the economic and ecological impact. They also highlight that pushing the Kelp Forest towards the southern edge may lead to local extermination (Wernberg, et al. 2016).
Pecl et.al. (2017). 2017).
This conservation issue has been widely published in many journals and media articles. For example, Verges et al.
(2014) also addressed the issue of the marine ecosystem’s tropicalization as a consequence of climate-mediated changes.
In similar fashion, several articles warn against the effects of global warming on the marine ecosystem.
Knowledge or Method Gap
The research article has a weakness in that it is primarily concerned with kelp forest loss due to global warming. However, it does not propose any future action to protect this resource.
The focus is primarily on coral and kelp forests. However, no scientific evidence has been presented to improve the current situation (Scharks/Masuda 2016).
Similar to the journal article, the description of the contraction and shift toward warm-water species in kelp forest is made. However, the article does not provide any justification or guidance regarding the future course.
The work of Bennett et. al. (2016) is important in this respect. It recommends that the Great Southern Reef is considered a spatially connected temperate coral system and takes steps to ensure the ecological health.
The plan included news and media reporting to raise public awareness about the issue.
A research investment in this area was also recommended.Conclusion:
An analysis of the media articles shows that it has been successful in attracting public attention towards the destruction of kelp forests.
Additionally, the media article presented the main issue as published by the journal articles using its own style.
Although the journal articles and media reports differ, the article could have been stronger if the scientific interpretation of this issue was used.
The article’s scientific value could also have been enhanced if there was public action and a recommendation to address the issue.
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