Hugh P Possingham

Hugh P Possingham
Queensland Government · Department of Environment and Science

DPhil, Oxford University

About

1,074
Publications
414,194
Reads
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68,841
Citations
Introduction
We use decision science tools to formulate and solve conservation problems. For more information read Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/. Sometimes people even do what we suggest.
Additional affiliations
August 2013 - present
Imperial College London
Position
  • Chair of Conservation Decisions
Description
  • 20% positions as part of Grand Challenges in Ecology and the Environment
July 2011 - present
The University of Queensland
Position
  • ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions
Description
  • I direct an ARC Centre of Excellence that is carrying out over hundred projects at the interface of biodiversity conservation, mathematics and economics
March 1998 - July 1998
University of California, Santa Barbara
Position
  • Sabbatical Visitor

Publications

Publications (1,074)
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Animal-borne telemetry has revolutionised our ability to study animal movement, species physiology, demography and social structures, changing environments and the threats that animals are experiencing. While there will always be a need for basic ecological research and discovery, the current conservation crisis demands we look more pragmatically a...
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Marine species are moving rapidly in response to warming, often in different directions and with variations dependent on location and depth. Given the current impetus to increase the area of protected ocean to 30%, conservation planning must include the 64% of the ocean beyond national jurisdictions, which in turn requires associated design challen...
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Fish conservation in estuaries is complex because there are diverse social values and interests associated with estuarine ecosystems and multiple ecological processes (e.g., nursery, connectivity, and population dynamics). Furthermore, ontogenetic shift has an important role in determining fish habitat use (e.g. pelagic vs benthic environments), an...
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Marine-protected areas are designated to reduce anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity and enhance fish production, but other ecological processes are inadequately accommodated in plans for coastal and marine ecosystems. We conducted a quantitative systematic literature review and meta-analysis on how researchers and decision-makers include ecologic...
Article
Deciding when to protect threatened species habitat when complete knowledge about the habitat extent is uncertain is a common problem in conservation. More accurate habitat mapping improves conservation outcomes once that habitat is protected. However, delaying protection to improve accuracy can lead to species decline or, at worst, local extinctio...
Preprint
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Climate-smart conservation addresses the vulnerability of biodiversity to climate change impacts but may require transboundary considerations. Here, we adapt and refine 16 biophysical guidelines for climate-smart marine reserves for the transboundary California Bight ecoregion. We link several climate-adaptation strategies (e.g., maintaining connec...
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Conservation decision-makers and practitioners increasingly strive for efficient and equitable outcomes for people and nature. However, environmental management programs commonly benefit some groups of people more than others, and very little is known about how efforts to promote equality (i.e., even distributions) and equity (i.e., proportional di...
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With the intention of securing industry-free land and seascapes, protecting 'wilderness' entered international policy as a formal target for the first time in the zero-draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Given this increased prominence in international policy, it is timely to consider t...
Article
Biodiversity conservation decisions are difficult, especially when they involve differing values, complex multidimensional objectives, scarce resources, urgency, and considerable uncertainty. Decision science embodies a theory about how to make difficult decisions and an extensive array of frameworks and tools that make that theory practical. We so...
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Advances in spatial biodiversity science and nationally available data have enabled the development of indicators that report on biodiversity outcomes, account for uneven global biodiversity between countries, and provide direct planning support. We urge their inclusion in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Preprint
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Determining where environmental management is best applied, either through regulating single sectors of human activities or across sectors, is complicated by interactions between human impacts and the environment. In this article, we show how an explicit representation of human-environment interactions can help, via “impact networks” including acti...
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The rise in global commitments to restore habitat underlines its importance to halt biodiversity loss and abate climate change. To effectively plan for landscape‐scale restoration efforts, decision makers need to prioritise where restoration should occur and have a method to estimate its cost. Here, we describe a systematic approach to determine wh...
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Protected areas remain a key tool in the fight against biodiversity loss and have expanded rapidly in recent decades. However, protected areas are also increasingly experiencing downsizing events that reduce the total amount of area legally under protection. Here we explore how future predicted protected area expansion and downsizing (by 2045) will...
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Rhino poaching continues to threaten species survival despite decades‐long trade bans, with rhino horn use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) contributing to global demand. Conservationists have debated over policy alternatives like trade legalization, and insight into TCM stakeholders is needed to support policymaking. The need for more researc...
Article
Land use change drives significant declines in ecosystem services globally. However, we currently lack an understanding of how and where different beneficiaries of ecosystem services experience the impacts of land use change. This information is needed to identify possible inequalities in the delivery among beneficiaries, and to design policy inter...
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Wetlands are one of the most biologically productive ecosystems. Wetland ecosystem services, ranging from provision of food security to climate change mitigation, are enormous, far outweighing those of dryland ecosystems per hectare. However, land use change and water regulation infrastructure have reduced connectivity in many river systems and wit...
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1. Climate change is redistributing terrestrial and marine biodiversity and altering fundamental ecological interactions. To conserve biodiversity and promote its long-term persistence, protected areas should account for the ecological implications of species' redistribution. Data paucity across many systems means that achieving this goal requires...
Preprint
Increasingly, government and corporate policies on ecological compensation (e.g. offsetting) are requiring ‘net gain’ outcomes for biodiversity. This presents an opportunity to align development with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’s (GBF) ambition for overall biodiversity recovery. In t...
Article
17% of land and 7% of seas are now protected, but further expansion of protected and conserved areas is embedded within the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. It is time to set meaningful indicators to guide improvement in both the quantity and quality of protected areas in the coming decade.
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Spatial prioritization is a critical step in conservation planning, a process designed to ensure that limited resources are applied in ways that deliver the highest possible returns for biodiversity and human wellbeing. In practice, many spatial prioritizations fall short of their potential by focusing on places rather than actions, and by using da...
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Kelp forests are globally important and highly productive ecosystems, yet their persistence and protection in the face of climate change and human activity are poorly known. Here, we present a 35-year time series of high-resolution satellite imagery that maps the distribution and persistence of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests along ten de...
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The Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will probably include a goal to stabilize and restore the status of species. Its delivery would be facilitated by making the actions required to halt and reverse species loss spatially explicit. Here, we develop a species threat abatement and restoration (STAR) metric...
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Reassembling ecological communities and rebuilding habitats through active restoration treatments requires curating the selection of plant species to use in seeding and planting mixes. Ideally, these mixes should be assembled based on attributes that support ecosystem function and services, promote plant and animal species interactions and ecologic...
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Protected areas are important for preventing biodiversity declines, yet indicators of species' trends in protected areas rarely include threatened species. We use data from the first national Threatened Species Index developed in Australia to report on trends for threatened and near‐threatened birds inside and outside terrestrial and marine protect...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03496-1.
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The ocean contains unique biodiversity, provides valuable food resources and is a major sink for anthropogenic carbon. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an effective tool for restoring ocean biodiversity and ecosystem services1,2, but at present only 2.7% of the ocean is highly protected³. This low level of ocean protection is due largely to confli...
Preprint
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Marine species are moving rapidly in response to warming, often in different directions and with variations by location and depth. This poses challenges to conventional reserve design. We develop a three-dimensional planning approach for the high seas that conserves biodiversity, minimises exposure to climate change, retains species within reserve...
Article
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production industry in the world yet research and guidance demonstrating strategic multi-objective zoning for sector expansion is scarce. Quantifying and mitigating conflicts and impact on sensitive coastal environments through jointly-optimized objectives for aquaculture and biodiversity simultaneously has n...
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Despite the international ban on the trade of rhino horn that has been in place since 1977, persistent demand for horn in Asia has driven a spike in poaching over the past decade. This has embroiled the conservation community in a debate over the efficacy of banning trade relative to other solutions. Proposals for trade to be legalized and supplied...
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1. The Mediterranean-type climate region of Chile is a globally unique biodiversity hotspot but its protected area system does not adequately represent the biological diversity, nor does it provide equitable access to people. 2. We explored options to expand the protected area system to cost-effectively improve the conservation of forest ecosystem...
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Tropical deforestation continues at high rates in many regions, but it is often reported only in terms of area lost or its impacts on high-profile threatened species. Here, we examined the impact of both past and projected future deforestation on habitat extent for the entire assemblage of forest-dependent birds across the country with the greatest...
Preprint
Full-text available
Reassembling ecological communities and rebuilding habitats through active restoration treatments requires curating the selection of plant species to use in seeding and planting mixes. Ideally, these mixes should be assembled based on attributes that support ecosystem function and services, promote plant and animal species interactions and ecologic...
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Long‐term biodiversity monitoring programs provide important information about species’ trajectories and broader environmental change. Often constrained by funding and organisational capability and commitment, monitoring programs need to be optimised to maximise ecological and economic efficiencies, as part of sound adaptive management. The monitor...
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Biological invasions are a major human induced global change that is threatening global biodiversity by homogenizing the world's fauna and flora. Species spread because humans have moved species across geographical boundaries and have changed ecological factors that structure ecosystems , such as nitrogen deposition, disturbance, etc. Many biologic...
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There is a growing recognition that conservation strategies should be designed accounting for cross-realm connections, such as freshwater connections to land and sea, to ensure effectiveness of marine spatial protection and minimize perverse outcomes of changing land-use. Yet, examples of integration across realms are relatively scarce, with most t...
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The medicinal use of rhino horn in Asia is a major driver of poaching and illegal trade. Research into the different actors involved in this trade is needed to inform policymaking and improve conservation outcomes. While researchers have investigated rhino horn consumers in Vietnam, studies have yet to focus on China. Here, we conducted a large‐sca...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-20999-7.
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Abstract Systematic conservation planning identifies priority areas to cost‐effectively meet conservation targets. Yet, these tools rarely guide wholesale declaration of reserve systems in a single time step due to financial and implementation constraints. Rather, incremental scheduling of actions to progressively build reserve networks is required...
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Valuing, managing and conserving marine biodiversity and a full range of ecosystem services is at the forefront of research and policy agendas. However, biodiversity is being lost at up to a thousand times the average background rate. Traditional disciplinary and siloed conservation approaches are not able to tackle this massive loss of biodiversit...
Preprint
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In most regions, the distribution of marine forests and the efficacy of their protection is unknown. We mapped the persistence of giant kelp forests across ten degrees of latitude in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and found that 7.7% of giant kelp is fully protected, with decreasing percentages from north to south. Sustainability goals should prioriti...
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Marxan is the most commonly used decision support tool for informing the design of protected area systems. There is a great deal of risk and uncertainty associated with the outcome of protected area decisions that the original version of Marxan does not consider, including uncertainty about the location and condition of species populations and habi...
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Abstract Quantifying species population trends is crucial for monitoring progress towards global conservation targets, justifying investments, planning targeted responses and raising awareness about threatened species. Many global indicators are slow in response and report on common species, not on those at greatest risk of extinction. Here we deve...
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Many global environmental agendas, including halting biodiversity loss, reversing land degradation, and limiting climate change, depend upon retaining forests with high ecological integrity, yet the scale and degree of forest modification remain poorly quantified and mapped. By integrating data on observed and inferred human pressures and an index...
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1. Effective biodiversity conservation requires responding to threats in a timely fashion. This entails understanding the impacts of threats on biodiversity and when interventions to mitigate threats need to be implemented. However, most ecological systems face multiple threats, so monitoring to assess their impacts on biodiversity is a complex tas...
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Abstract Numerous treatments in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) involve the use of wildlife products, including some that utilize ingredients derived from endangered flora and fauna. Demand for such endangered wildlife products in TCM can threaten the survival of species and pose serious challenges for conservation. Chinese medical practice is e...
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Species that cannot adapt or keep pace with a changing climate are likely to need human intervention to shift to more suitable climates. While hundreds of articles mention using translocation as a climate-change adaptation tool, in practice, assisted migration as a conservation action remains rare, especially for animals. This is likely due to conc...
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Microalgae are a promising alternative for future biofuel production. Compared to first-and second-generation biofuels, microalgal production systems offer higher biofuel productivities per unit area and do not necessarily depend on fertile soils or freshwater. However, little is known about how microalgal biofuel production on a scale large enough...
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Australia’s 2019–2020 mega-fires were exacerbated by drought, anthropogenic climate change and existing land-use management. Here, using a combination of remotely sensed data and species distribution models, we found these fires burnt ~97,000 km2 of vegetation across southern and eastern Australia, which is considered habitat for 832 species of nat...
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Conservation and sustainable management activities are critical for enhancing ecosystem services. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) is a spatial decision support process used to identify the most cost-effective places for intervention and is increasingly incorporating ecosystem services thinking. Yet, there is no clear guidance on how to incor...
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Plastic pollution is a planetary threat, affecting nearly every marine and freshwater ecosystem globally. In response, multilevel mitigation strategies are being adopted but with a lack of quantitative assessment of how such strategies reduce plastic emissions. We assessed the impact of three broad management strategies, plastic waste reduction, wa...
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Biofuel production is a key strategy for reducing CO2 emissions globally and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades, particularly in tropical developing countries. The adoption of sustainable biofuel production technologies that do not place large demands on agricultural or forested lands, has the potential to make a substantia...
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Ecologists and conservation scientists use social science research methods to carry out studies around the world. The language and cultural context in which study instruments are applied often differ from the context in which they were originally developed. Study instruments used in cross‐cultural research need to maintain equivalency in order to e...