Making conservation decisions under uncertainty for the persistence of multiple species

Nicholson, E. and Possingham, H. P. (2007) Making conservation decisions under uncertainty for the persistence of multiple species. Ecological Applications, 17 1: 251-265. doi:10.1890/1051-0761(2007)017[0251:MCDUUF]2.0.CO;2

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Author Nicholson, E.
Possingham, H. P.
Title Making conservation decisions under uncertainty for the persistence of multiple species
Journal name Ecological Applications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1051-0761
1939-5582
Publication date 2007-09-17
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/1051-0761(2007)017[0251:MCDUUF]2.0.CO;2
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 17
Issue 1
Start page 251
End page 265
Total pages 15
Editor Pitelka, L. F.
Place of publication Washington
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Abstract 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-species conservation 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.
Keyword conservation planning
information-gap decision theory
metapopulation
multi-criteria decision analysis
multiple-species decision making
population viability analysis
Tumut
uncertainty
New South Wales
Australia
uncertainty
Population Viability Analysis
Spatial Pva Models
Metapopulation Dynamics
Patch Occupancy
Extinction Risk
Mean Time
Management
Predictions
Design
Area
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

 
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Created: Mon, 17 Sep 2007, 16:15:20 EST by Ms Sarah Boulter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences