A priority of Biodiversity 2037 is to better use available resources and knowledge across the biodiversity sector. This will help us deliver greater benefits, for more species, and across more landscapes in Victoria.

The Biodiversity Knowledge Framework can help us better understand which knowledge gaps, when addressed, will have the greatest potential to inform the best management approaches for achieving biodiversity outcomes. It provides a consistent and transparent approach for prioritising and selecting research.

At the heart of the Framework are ‘causal models’ which outline and document our knowledge of ecological systems, including those things we are uncertain about or don’t fully understand.

Comparing causal models and the ideas they explore can then help inform research projects that will provide new information that can help fill these gaps in our knowledge and contribute to better management.

The Knowledge Portal is an interactive tool for viewing and interacting with the individual causal models created to date under the Biodiversity Knowledge Framework.

While anyone can access and use the Knowledge Portal, it may be of particular interest to biodiversity conservation researchers, practitioners or organisations that undertake or commission research.

Under ‘Show model based on’:

  1. Click either the ‘Threat’ or ‘Guild’ (a group of species that use the same resources) button, this will generate the list of models available.
  2. Choose the model you are interested in from the selectable list, the selection will be displayed in the orange box on the model.
  3. Click either ‘Best’, for a best-case scenario or ‘Worst’ for the worst case-scenario. Selecting ‘Best’ will result in an optimistic view, that is the conservation outcomes may be better than expected; selecting ‘Worst’ will result in a negative view, that is conservation outcomes are unlikely to be effective.

Individual links (arrows) can be selected, which light up the corresponding rows in the table. Direct selection of nodes (boxes) will be available in future updates.

Information in the tables explore the relative benefit of solving the knowledge gap represented in each link compared to all other links in the models considered.

Table columns are defined as follows:

RankRelative ranking of the benefit of solving the knowledge gap associated with this link compared to all other links across all models included in the portal.
PRProportional Reduction (PR) identifies the amount of uncertainty resolved by calculating the improvement in proportional distance between the best and worst-case causal models, assuming the knowledge acquisition succeeds in resolving the knowledge gap.
PR ChartA visual representation of the relative PR values of links within this single model.
EGExpected Gain (EG) provides an assessment to quantify how the additional information can improve the predicted biodiversity benefit. It is the expected difference in the benefit* as a result of the management action, with and without the knowledge acquisition to resolve any uncertainties.
RBKRelative Benefit of Knowledge (RBK) is the proportional reduction in uncertainty from resolving target elements (PR) multiplied by the expected gain in suitable habitat from resolving all uncertain elements (EG).
Link ValueA numerical representation of the strength and direction of relationship between links:-3 strongly negative; -2 moderately negative; -1 weakly negative; 0 neutral; 1 weakly positive; 2 moderately positive; 3 strongly positive

*Benefit is measured as the weighted sum of Change in Suitable Habitat (CSH). CSH is a metric developed by us which represents the difference between doing nothing and the changes that sustained actions can make to each species’ long-term persistence at a site in 50 years’ time. For more information on CSH, see NaturePrint.

Access the Portal here

Who is the Biodiversity Knowledge Portal for?

The Portal is for anyone who is interested in identifying and investigating biodiversity knowledge gaps using causal models. It may be of particular interest to biodiversity conservation researchers, practitioners or organisations that undertake or commission research to help identify key uncertainties which may have the most value being explored.

The Portal will also be of interest to those curious to understand how the Victorian government prioritises investment in biodiversity knowledge.

How do I access the Biodiversity Knowledge Portal?

Access the Knowledge Portal through the interface above.

It is free to access the Portal and you don’t need to create an account or provide any personal information to do so.

What is the Biodiversity Knowledge Portal used for?

The Knowledge Portal provides access to the existing causal-models that underpin the Biodiversity Knowledge Framework.

Through the Portal users can:

  • Select problem-response scenarios to view. These scenarios often reflect an issue in the natural environment which may be resolved through management or research.
  • View the relevant causal model for the scenario with clickable links that explore strengths of relationships.
    • Leave constructive feedback, comments or questions about specific links or other parts of a causal model by contacting us at: biodiversity.knowledge@delwp.vic.gov.au
    • Identify knowledge gaps and prioritise research questions.

This ensures a consistent and transparent approach to prioritising and selecting research that aims to improve our understanding of the actions and outcomes needed to better protect biodiversity.

What is a causal model?

Causal models are used to describe and visualise a system and the relationship between variables within that system.

Causal models represent a simplification of our understanding of the relationships between elements of a system, in this case, ecological interactions between threats, actions and species. It incorporates defined variables (represented as nodes) and the relationships between them (edges/arrows).

How do I use the Portal to identify knowledge gaps and prioritise research questions?

High ranking links can be picked up by us or other interested parties and translated into research questions as funding and opportunities become available.

Research questions are flexible, and many links can be covered in the same project to accumulate benefit. Research with the greatest benefit (through filling the largest knowledge gap or an accumulation of smaller ones) will be prioritised for investment. For more information see the Knowledge Framework.

How has the Portal been used to date?

Research on some highly ranked research questions has already begun. Current research questions informed and funded through the Knowledge Framework can be explored in this map and the table below (bolded questions have work currently underway).

In identifying these research questions, consideration was also given to whether equivalent research was already underway, for example through an Australian Research Council-linkage grant or Biodiversity Response Planning capability projects (such as on deer and cat control methods).

Many of these research questions cover the top ranked links from all models:

Does fox control reduce fox densities to a point where there can be substantial benefit for small to medium sized ground dwelling mammals? What circumstances influence the success of fox control (e.g. disturbances, alternative prey availability)?

To what extent do dogs/dingos take fox bait? What are the broader ecosystem implications of reduced dog/dingo densities?

Does deer control reduce deer densities to a point where the following taxonomic groups substantially benefit:

  • Native grasses and forbs AND/OR
  • Native trees and shrubs AND/OR
  • Frogs AND/OR
  • Reptiles AND/OR
  • Medium-large macropods AND/OR
  • Small to medium sized mammals AND/OR
  • Ground dwelling and mound building birds?

How do deer wallows impact native herbs and grasses?

Does goat control reduce goat densities to a point where the following taxonomic groups substantially benefit:

  • Native plants AND/OR
  • Ground-dwelling and mound building birds AND/OR
  • Reptiles

How does the impact of a drying climate affect native plants, particularly in relation to the impact of goat control on the above groups?

How does the presence of rabbits interact with weed and/or goat control in efforts to protect ground-dwelling and mound building birds from predation by introduced predators?

How does the cover of woody vegetation impact the amount of insolation available for reptile thermoregulation where goats are being controlled?

How do deer and horses interact to impact alpine bogs and fens? More specifically:

  • To what extent do does deer wallowing and trampling impact the condition of bogs and fens?
  • What is the impact of reducing horse density on deer density?

How can you contribute?

Do you:

  • Have your own model you’d like to add to the Framework?
  • Want to edit an existing model?
  • Have suggestions for future work?
  • Have any other questions?

Contact us at: biodiversity.knowledge@delwp.vic.gov.au

This Knowledge Portal will be updated routinely to reflect growing knowledge, incorporate user-feedback, and promote usability.

Page last updated: 02/06/21