NCEAS Project 2129

Decision theory in conservation biology: Are there rules of thumb?

  • Hugh P. Possingham

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Sabbatical Fellow4th December 1998—15th April 1999Participant List  
Working Group27th February—14th March 1999Participant List  
Visitor7th—8th April 1999Participant List  

Abstract

Ecological theory and complex, often spatially explicit, computer simulations are two ways in which ecologists have attempted to help managers solve conservation problems. Both methods have provided little guidance. Ecological theory is simple enough to be general, but lacks the constraints and trade-offs to be usefully applied in the real world. Complex computer simulations target specific ecosystems ad problems (are not general), require many parameters that may be hard to estimate, and the robustness of the ensuing decisions may take years of simulating to evaluate. The primary purpose of this sabbatical will be to use existing work on the application of formal optimism tools, like stochastic dynamic programming, to develop simple and robust "rules of thumb" for two major conservation problems, disturbance management and metapopulation management. In its grandest sense, I wish to outline a theory of applied conservation biology - something which I believe does not exist.

This research proposal arises from an NCEAS working group on population management held in August 1997 (Shea, Mangel and Possingham). Some ancillary projects initiated in the workshop need to be completed., In the July 1998 NCEAS proposal round I will apply for funds to reconvene parts of the population management workshop. My research will be split between the problem described above and tidying up ancillary projects from the working group.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Coulson, Tim; Mace, Georgina; Hudson, Elodie; Possingham, Hugh P. 2001. The use and abuse of population viability analysis. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. Vol: 16. Pages 219-221.
Presentations Possingham, Hugh P. 1999. Decision theory for population viability analysis. Population Viability Analysis Conference. San Diego, CA.
Presentations Possingham, Hugh P. 1999. Fire management for biodiversity. University of California Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara, CA.
Presentations Possingham, Hugh P. 1999. Fire management for biodiversity. University of California Davis. Davis, CA.
Presentations Possingham, Hugh P. 1999. Fire management for biodiversity. University of California Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz, CA.
Presentations Possingham, Hugh P. 1999. How to manage a metapopulation. University of California Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara, CA.
Journal Article Possingham, Hugh P.; Shea, Katriona. 1999. The business of biodiversity. Australian Zoologist. Vol: 31. Pages 3-5.
Journal Article Possingham, Hugh P.; Shea, Katriona. 1999. The business of biodiversity: Response to responses. Australian Zoologist. Vol: 31. Pages 9-10.
Report or White Paper Possingham, Hugh P. 1999. The global taxonomy initiative (GTI) and the taxonomic impediment: What are they and why should I care?. Lifelines. Vol: 5. Pages 18-19.
Journal Article Shea, Katriona; Possingham, Hugh P. 2000. Optimal release strategies for biological control agents: An application of stochastic dynamic programming to population management. Journal of Applied Ecology. Vol: 37. Pages 77-86.