Making conservation decisions under uncertainty for the persistence of multiple species

Nicholson, Emily and Possingham, HP 2007, Making conservation decisions under uncertainty for the persistence of multiple species, Ecological applications, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 251-265, doi: 10.1890/1051-0761(2007)017[0251:MCDUUF]2.0.CO;2.

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Title Making conservation decisions under uncertainty for the persistence of multiple species
Author(s) Nicholson, EmilyORCID iD for Nicholson, Emily
Possingham, HP
Journal name Ecological applications
Volume number 17
Issue number 1
Start page 251
End page 265
Total pages 15
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Place of publication Philadelphia, P.A.
Publication date 2007-01
ISSN 1051-0761
Keyword(s) conservation planning
information-gap decision theory
multi-criteria decision analysis
multiple-species decision making
population viability analysis
New South Wales
Summary Population models for multiple species provide one of the few means of assessing the impact of alternative management options on the persistence of biodiversity, but they are inevitably uncertain. Is it possible to use population models in multiple-speciesconservation planning given the associated uncertainties? We use information-gap decision theory to explore the impact of parameter uncertainty on the conservation decision when planning for the persistence of multiple species. An information-gap approach seeks robust outcomes that are most immune from error. We assess the impact of uncertainty in key model parameters for three species, whose extinction risks under four alternative management scenarios are estimated using a metapopulation model. Three methods are described for making conservation decisions across the species, taking into account uncertainty. We find that decisions based on single species are relatively robust to uncertainty in parameters, although the estimates of extinction risk increase rapidly with uncertainty. When identifying the best conservation decision for the persistence of all species, the methods that rely on the rankings of the management options by each species result in decisions that are similarly robust to uncertainty. Methods that depend on absolute values of extinction risk are sensitive to uncertainty, as small changes in extinction risk can alter the ranking of the alternative scenarios. We discover that it is possible to make robust conservation decisions even when the uncertainties of the multiple-species problem appear overwhelming. However, the decision most robust to uncertainty is likely to differ from the best decision when uncertainty is ignored, illustrating the importance of incorporating uncertainty into the decision-making process.
Language eng
DOI 10.1890/1051-0761(2007)017[0251:MCDUUF]2.0.CO;2
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 960805 Flora
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2007, Ecological Society of America
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