Research

Conservation planning, climate adaptation and optimal resource allocation

A key aspect of our research is combining ecological models with decision theory to inform decisions about what management actions to take, where in the landscape or seascape to take these actions and when to implement these actions to achieve our conservation objective, given limited resources (time and money). Some recent examples of this work include developing rules of thumb to manage spatial networks of pests, diseases and endangered species, prioritising the protection of habitat across multiple countries for the conservation of migratory species, and providing guidance on the timing of assisted colonisation in the face of climate change. With a price on carbon in many countries, we’re also assessing how to maximise both carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation across Australia and Canada.

See Publications for examples

monarch-maliview-gary-bywater-june-2016_lr

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Priority threat management

Calls for threat management actions to protect biodiversity and restore ecosystem function are rarely coupled with costed and prioritized sets of management actions for use in decision-making. We present a flexible, cost-effectiveness approach for prioritizing threat management to maximize the in-situ protection of biodiversity per dollar spent. The approach draws on empirical data and expert knowledge of major threats to biodiversity, feasible threat management actions, and likely responses of biodiversity to a set of costed management scenarios.

See Publications for examples

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Elicitation of expert knowledge and use in models

Expert knowledge is substantive information about a particular field that is not available to everyone. Expert knowledge is used widely in conservation science and practice, particularly where data is scarce, problems are complex or the decisions are imminent and answers are required urgently. The science of eliciting expert knowledge has a long history in the psychology and statistical literature, but has only started to filter into the ecology and conservation domains.  Our contribution has on the development of methods to elicit and incorporate the elicited information into statistical models, in particular as prior probabilities in Bayesian models.   We have shown that the inclusion of such ‘prior’ information can substantially improve estimates in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Recently we have published two review on expert elicitation, the first provides an overview of expert elicitation in conservation science (Martin et al 2012), while the second provides a guide on how to elicit and use priors in Bayesian models in particular (Kuhnert et al 2011).

See Publications for examples

________________________________________________________________________________________

Herbivore impacts on plants and birds

Herbivores have long exerted an influence on the structure and composition of vegetation and their associated fauna. Today grazing of domestic livestock is the most extensive land use across the globe.  Over the past 10 years much of our work has been focussed on understanding and predicting the impacts of cattle grazing on Australian grassy eucalypt woodlands and their bird fauna.  More recently we have been investigating the influence of an overabundant native herbivore, black-tailed deer on the vegetation and bird fauna of western North America’s Gulf and San Juan Island archipelago.

See Publications for examples

________________________________________________________________________________________

Adaptive management and monitoring

Adaptive management of natural resources is widely supported, but in biodiversity conservation there have been few practical applications of the approach in its entirety. We develop novel modeling approaches that seek to accommodate the complexities of real-world applications and address the treatment of uncertainty in adaptive management through innovative approaches to experimentation and monitoring, use and characterisation of expert knowledge and reconciliation of differences of opinion about parameters or systems. Our work explores when monitoring is appropriate and when adaptive management is particular is likely to be the most cost-effective course action.

See Publications for examples

Save

%d bloggers like this: