Designing and Assessing the Viability of Nature Reserve Systems at Regional Scales:
Integration of Optimization, Heuristic and Dynamic Models

Report of Progress and Activities, June 23 - August 5, 1997

Sandy J. Andelman

Eli Meir and I worked at NCEAS from June 23 - July 3, 1997, on the following activities in preparation for Workshop 1, later in July 24-25, 1997:

Consulted with Frank Davis on strategic direction for the first workshop, and on potential approaches for integrating optimization, heuristic and dynamica models.

Identified and programmed heuristic site-selection algorithms for processing regional data sets. Worked with B.J. Okin (UCSB) and Bob Pressey (New South Wales National Parks) to transfer and automate their reserve siting software to NCEAS.

Developed an approach for comparing and evaluating different site selection models.

Compiled and synthesized data sets from The Nature Conservancy and Natural Heritage Network, and from the Interior Columbia Basin project. Developed simulated data sets to represent a range of potential data structures that would likely be found in biodiversity data sets for other regions.

Initiated a project to evaluate how sensitive different site selection algorithms are to variations in data (e.g., quantity an quality).

Drafted agenda for first workshop.

Held informal discussions with colleagues at NCEAS about the project.

Following are the activities from July 24 - August 8, 1997:

The first workshop took place July 24 and 25. We discussed the role of analytical methods and decision tools in conservation planning; reviewed existing computer-based approaches to reserve siting; and current dynamic approaches to assessing viability, and discussed which types of dynamic models might be most fruitfully applied to reserve siting at a regional scale. We agreed on the general approaches the working group would take during the coming year, and agreed on individual responsibilities.

Andelman and Meir completed the initial project on data requirements and sensitivty issues for application to reserve siting algorithms and wrote and submitted a manuscript to the journal Nature, on biodiversity data requirements for reserve network design.

A manuscript for the journal BioScience, summarizing key approaches and outlining a framework for developing conservation planning tools is in preparation and will be submitted before the end of August.

Following the workshop, Andelman, Davis, Fagan, Kareiva, Meir and Pressey began working on individual pieces of the project. We made substantial progress.

Numerous informal discussions were held with members of the population management working group, and some collaborations were initiated among the two groups.

Andelman gave a seminar at the School of Environmental Sciences and Management, discussing the research agenda for the working group in the coming year.

Both Andelman and Davis discussed the NCEAS project in their respective talks at the Ecological Society of America meetings in Albuquerque.