Article

Decision triggers are a critical part of evidence-based conservation

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Sustainability appraisals might provide a means to balance the 'net footprint' of wind energy development and account for debits and credits at the same time [91,92]. However, German permitting processes so far consider primarily adverse impacts pertaining to wind farms. ...
... decarbonisation) as well. Scholarly work emphasises an integrated ecosystem services (ESS) approach [91][92][93], identifying debits and credits for wind farms. Yet, these approaches bear certain risks of oversimplification and still require a more in-depth assessment of ESS. ...
... This requires that we assess uncertainty of impacts across spatial and temporal scales and verify the efficacy of mitigation measures to make risk-based trade-offs in decision-making. It is unlikely that such trade-offs can be solely based on ecological premises but should rather encompass socioecological thresholds [91,92]. As Loder [67] stated: 'Intolerance for uncertainty and risk comes at an ethical cost and may well impede implementation of policy goals'. ...
Chapter
Crete has been characterized as an area with a high wind energy capacity due to its mountainous terrain and the strong prevailing winds throughout the year. At the same time, the island constitutes the last stronghold for vulture species in Greece, currently holding the largest insular population of Eurasian griffons (Gyps fulvus) worldwide (ca. 1000 individuals). Given the empirical data on the mortality of large raptors due to collisions with wind turbine blades, the aim of the present study was to predict the potential impact of wind energy installations on the griffon vulture population on the island. The study was developed in two steps, namely, (a) the spatial mapping of the existing and planned wind energy projects up to the year 2012 and the delineation of their risk area and (b) the calculation of the annual collision rate based on the expected number of vulture risk flights and the probability of being killed. Overall, the minimum number of fatalities due to collision of vultures to wind turbines was estimated at 84 individuals per year. However, this figure could drop by over 50% if the European network of the NATURA 2000 sites was set as an exclusion zone for wind energy facilities. The study pinpoints the need for proper siting of wind farms and the prerequisite of sensitivity mapping for vulnerable species prone to collision on wind turbines.
... This approach requires a good understanding of ecosystem processes, to assess when a system is shifting into an undesirable state and when management intervention is required (Nichols & Williams 2006). A proactive application of state-dependent management involves the use of decision triggers, which represent a point or zone in the status of a monitored variable indicating when management intervention is required to address undesirable ecosystem changes (Cook et al. 2016; Figure 1). Consistent with moves towards evidence-based management, decision triggers have received increasing attention from conservation scientists to assist in the protection of biodiversity (e.g., Biggs & Rogers 2003; Martin et al. 2009; Nie & Schultz 2012; Addison, de Bie & Rumpff 2015). ...
... This is increasingly important for practitioners in jurisdictions where failure to act, or effectively communicate the rationale for inaction, can expose organisations to litigation (Fischman & Ruhl 2015). Several recent methodological advances to set decision triggers suggest growing support from the academic community for the integration of decision triggers into evidence-based management (Cook et al. 2016). However, there has been little consideration of whether practitioners in management organisations support the use of decision triggers. ...
... Fifteen conservation practitioners were involved in the workshop, nominated as the staff members within each organisation with the most knowledge about decision triggers and inhouse approaches to evidence-based management (e.g., monitoring, evaluation, reporting, and adaptive management; see Cook et al. (2016) for an outline of approaches to evidencebased management). The workshop focus was to: (1) document organisations' motivations for using decision triggers, (2) determine whether there is support for the use of decision ...
Article
Protected area management organisations are on the front line of protecting biodiversity, and effective management is recognised as critical in halting the loss of biodiversity. Evidence-based management can help guide effective management of natural systems by integrating the best available evidence to support management decisions and evaluate management effectiveness. Over recent decades evidence-based management has started to emerge as an approach, in response to the need for increased transparency and to promote positive conservation outcomes (Ferraro & Pattanayak 2006). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... However, programs often do not clearly articulate how monitoring information will prompt management actions, an oversight that can contribute to further biodiversity loss Woinarski et al., 2017). Recently, significant focus has been placed on integrating decision triggers (see Table 1) into monitoring programs to facilitate evidence-based management Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018). Decision triggers represent a point, zone or threshold in the status of a measure that indicates when management is required to maintain or reinstate a desired ecosystem state (see Addison et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2016). ...
... Recently, significant focus has been placed on integrating decision triggers (see Table 1) into monitoring programs to facilitate evidence-based management Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018). Decision triggers represent a point, zone or threshold in the status of a measure that indicates when management is required to maintain or reinstate a desired ecosystem state (see Addison et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2016). Similar to other threshold and reference point concepts in evidencebased management, there are many technical and non-technical approaches for identifying decision triggers (e.g. ...
... The benefits of adopting decision triggers for facilitating timely management actions are widely recognized Cook et al., 2016;Nichols and Williams, 2006), and methodologies for fitting decision triggers into existing management frameworks have been detailed (de Bie et al., 2018). Although practitioners view decision triggers as a valuable management tool , there can be substantial financial, political, and scientific barriers to implementation de Bie et al., 2018). ...
Article
Decision triggers are defined thresholds in the status of monitored variables that indicate when to undertake management, and avoid undesirable ecosystem change. Decision triggers are frequently recommended to conservation practitioners as a tool to facilitate evidence-based management practices, but there has been limited attention paid to how practitioners are integrating decision triggers into existing monitoring programs. We sought to understand whether conservation practitioners' use of decision triggers was influenced by the type of variables in their monitoring programs. We investigated this question using a practitioner-focused workshop involving a structured discussion and review of eight monitoring programs. Among our case studies, direct measures of biodiversity (e.g. native species) were more commonly monitored, but less likely to be linked to decision triggers (10% with triggers) than measures being used as surrogates (54% with triggers) for program objectives. This was because decision triggers were associated with management of threatening processes, which were often monitored as a surrogate for a biodiversity asset of interest. By contrast, direct measures of biodiversity were more commonly associated with informal decision processes that led to activities such as management reviews or external consultation. Workshop participants were in favor of including more formalized decision triggers in their programs, but were limited by incomplete ecological knowledge, lack of appropriately skilled staff, funding constraints, and/or uncertainty regarding intervention effectiveness. We recommend that practitioners consider including decision triggers for discussion activities (such as external consultation) in their programs as more than just early warning points for future interventions, particularly for direct measures. Decision triggers for discussions should be recognized as a critical feature of monitoring programs where information and operational limitations inhibit the use of decision triggers for interventions.
... The lack of inclusion of genetic diversity in conservation management has become increasingly acknowledged and recognized (Fig. 3.4; Cook et al. 2016, Cook and Sgrò 2018, 2019aSandström et al. 2019;Taylor et al. 2017;Holderegger et al. 2019). The conservation genetics gap in the context of science versus management is inferred by the fact that scientific knowledge on genetic biodiversity, including how it is essential for biodiversity conservation and how it can be included in practical management, has long been available (Sect. ...
... Numerous reasons for the lack of inclusion and application of genetic and evolutionary information into policy and management have been pointed out, including educational, institutional, communication, and societal barriers (Cook and Sgrò 2017;Cook et al. 2016;Haig et al. 2016;Lundmark et al. 2017Lundmark et al. , 2019Sandström et al. 2016Sandström et al. , 2019Shaffer et al. 2015;Taylor et al. 2017). Here, we summarize some of the main issues identified thus far. ...
... A perception that genetics is not suitable to tackle particular conservation problems appears to exist, and hence the applicability of genetic and evolutionary research in management and policy is alleged to be low (Haig et al. 2016;Taylor et al. 2017). Genetic dynamics are often seen as long-term issues and, therefore, receive lower priority in conservation plans (Cook et al. 2016;Smith et al. 2014). Further, within the research field of conservation biology, some leading ecologists debated the role of genetics in conservation in the 1990s, and although their skepticism has now been proven erroneous, the effects of these views have lingered on (Sarre and Georges 2009). ...
Chapter
Genetic diversity is an essential part of biodiversity continuously shaped by micro-evolutionary processes. Despite widely scientifically acknowledged for its chief importance for species’ conservation and adaptation to rapidly changing environments, genetic diversity is largely ignored in practical management and policy implementation. This discrepancy between existing knowledge and the lack of use in practice creates a conservation genetics gap. We summarize the reasons proposed for its existence and recommendations on how to close it. Our synthesis suggests that the conservation genetics gap is a global phenomenon that originates from several sources. The relatively young age of empirical population genetics as compared to, for example, ecology, results in even university-trained managers lacking population genetics competency. There is also a general lack of (i) continuous communication and knowledge transfer among academics and practitioners, (ii) accessibility to genetic research results, (iii) clearness in policy regarding the goals for preservation of genetic diversity, and (iv) integration of genetics in guidelines for policy implementation at different levels, and (v) decision-support tools for policymakers and practitioners. Solutions include changing personal and institutional attitudes, competency, practices, and providing incentives to facilitate close collaboration between scientists and managers in interdisciplinary work to safeguard the evolutionary potential of populations.
... Integrating decision triggers to management has been suggested as a mechanism to fill the gap that links evidence to action. These triggers can be informed by a range of ecological, social, and regulatory value-based information (Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018). Clear thresholds may be difficult to identify in ecological systems (Groffman et al., 2006) and allocating thresholds to all monitored variables can be problematic (Biggs et al., 2011). ...
... Clear thresholds may be difficult to identify in ecological systems (Groffman et al., 2006) and allocating thresholds to all monitored variables can be problematic (Biggs et al., 2011). Nonetheless, decision triggers can be used as a way to support evidence-based conservation management in the absence of full ecological knowledge (Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018;Foster et al., 2019). ...
... Developing decision triggers requires a process of documenting alternative management interventions and conceptualising outcomes from intervention (Cook et al., 2016). This process helps practitioners better understand their systems and may stimulate greater collaboration between scientists and managers. ...
Article
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of biodiversity has been heavily criticised. However, these criticisms have yet to be tested empirically across a range of geographical environments and institutions. We surveyed 243 protected area staff from 55 countries to describe how M&E is undertaken and to identify variables statistically associated with effective M&E. We found that M&E is routinely employed: 78% of respondents indicated that monitoring occurred and 64% responded that monitoring persisted for at least as long that a management action was implemented. However, our results suggested there is scope to improve the way that M&E is conducted: only 46% of respondents thought that M&E worked well, just 36% provided an example of monitoring informing management and 38% of respondents indicated that management is not undertaken in different ways to facilitate adaptive management. Monitoring and evaluation was generally perceived to be working better in non-government organisations (NGOs), where data are entered in existing databases, and where research and management staff work cooperatively. Monitoring had a greater probability of informing management where documented thresholds were in place that trigger management intervention and where monitoring data were stored in a publicly available database. Management was most likely to be implemented in different ways to facilitate adaptive management in NGOs, where management intervention options were documented, monitoring had persisted as long as the management action and where reporting is done regularly. The most common suggestions that respondents gave to improve M&E were increased funding, better science management integration, and improving organisational culture and commitment.
... Decision thresholds or 'triggers' are a key component of effective ecological monitoring and management and can improve the effectiveness and transparency of conservation decision making (Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018). Decision thresholds have most often been described within the context of triggering management actions necessary to maintain an ecological system within a desired state (Cook et al., 2016), although they do have broader application. ...
... Decision thresholds or 'triggers' are a key component of effective ecological monitoring and management and can improve the effectiveness and transparency of conservation decision making (Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018). Decision thresholds have most often been described within the context of triggering management actions necessary to maintain an ecological system within a desired state (Cook et al., 2016), although they do have broader application. For instance, thresholds can define targets for management and conservation outcomes (Russell-Smith et al., 2017) and set eligibility criteria to exclude areas of least interest within conservation tenders (Zammit et al., 2010). ...
... In ecology, thresholds identify when rapid and/or irreversible shifts are likely and ideally should underpin the choice of decision thresholds for ecosystem management (Cook et al. 2016). However, given the complexity of ecological systems the identification and prediction of relevant and consistent ecological thresholds have been proven difficult (Groffman et al., 2006;Swift and Hannon, 2010). ...
Article
Conservation decision thresholds have most often been described within the context of triggering management actions necessary to maintain an ecological system within a desired state. Thresholds are also applied within conservation legislation, often as triggers to determine when certain regulations may or may not apply. In many applications, thresholds have been criticized for being subjective, inconsistent and open to bias and rather than being derived from sound and objective analysis of ecological data they can result from undocumented judgement and opinion. Although judgement and opinion may be necessary for setting decision thresholds in circumstances where appropriate data are lacking, a failure to use structured processes for obtaining, analysing and presenting these can result in contentious, unsubstantiated thresholds. This paper demonstrates how thresholds for identifying grassland conservation values, for the purposes of decision making under vegetation clearing legislation, can be estimated from simple floristic indicators after combining the judgment of multiple experts through hierarchical modelling. Using two stages of elicitation and modelling, the resulting conservation value states were found to be consistent and predictable, correlated with known paddock-level disturbance history and congruent with prior condition states that define an endangered grassland ecosystem. While the thresholds, and the underpinning coefficients, may not reflect the opinion of all grassland ecologists, they are transparent, testable and can be updated or modified to incorporate additional criteria and a greater diversity of stakeholders. The approach could be adopted to similar contexts in other vegetation types where policy or regulatory decision triggers are required.
... A management threshold is the value or range of values of an attribute that, once crossed, indicates when management intervention is required to address undesirable ecosystem changes ( Fig. 2; Cook et al. 2016). For example, conservation practitioners in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, use a set of monitoring endpoints, known as thresholds of potential concern (TPCs), that together define the upper and lower limits along a continuum of change in selected environmental indicators (Foxcroft 2009). ...
... Decision triggers represent the value of an attribute that once exceeded indicate the need for a management action (Fig. 2;Cook et al. 2016). Decision triggers offer urban conservation practitioners clarity and precision about when intervention in a system is justified (Bennetts et al. 2007;Guntenspergen 2014). ...
... Decision triggers can be set using several methods, depending on the number of management objectives and the availability of scientific data, expertise, and resources. Setting a decision trigger requires the identification of an ecological (e.g., species, ecosystem, or threat), social, or economic attribute that can serve as an indicator for the state of the system or the threatening process that is the target for management (Fig. 2;Cook et al. 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Urban areas are hubs for invasive alien (non-native) species (IAS) which can cause major problems in and around urban areas. Urban conservation practitioners face complex decisions about which IAS require management, where and when these management interventions are necessary, and how to implement them effectively. While researchers increasingly advocate the assignment of critical thresholds informing IAS management decisions, little attention has been given to the development of criteria for such thresholds or related practical application protocols in the context of urban environmental management. We review approaches that have been applied to manage IAS in urban areas and evaluate which thresholds are considered and applied before, during, and after management actions. Our literature search revealed 75 publications, with clear geographic bias. Less than half of all studies had implications for the prioritization of IAS management in urban areas and only 31% of these directly assessed such priorities. Only 8% of studies referenced a threshold or decision trigger when proposing management approaches for IAS in urban areas. This suggests that decisions to manage IAS in urban areas are often made on an ad hoc basis, without considering objective and transparent criteria, and/or are prompted by external factors (such as funding availability) that are not recorded in the formal literature. There is a need for IAS management in urban areas to be evidence-based and informed by well-tested measures and transparent decision triggers. Resources should be directed towards integrating evidence-based thresholds and tailored prioritization schemes into urban management frameworks to support decisions about what, where, and when IAS management is required.
... This approach requires a good understanding of ecosystem processes, to assess when a system is shifting into an undesirable state and when management intervention is required (Nichols & Williams 2006). A proactive application of state-dependent management involves the use of decision triggers, which represent a point or zone in the status of a monitored variable indicating when management intervention is required to address undesirable ecosystem changes (Cook et al. 2016;Fig. 1). ...
... Several recent methodological advances to set decision triggers suggest growing support from the academic community for the integration of decision triggers into evidence-based management (Cook et al. 2016). However, there has been little consideration of whether practitioners in management organizations support the use of decision triggers. ...
... Fifteen conservation practitioners were involved in the workshop, nominated as the staff members within each organization with the most knowledge about decision triggers and in-house approaches to evidence-based management (e.g. monitoring, evaluation, reporting and adaptive management; see Cook et al. (2016) for an outline of approaches to evidence-based management). The workshop focus was to (i) document organizations' motivations for using decision triggers, (ii) determine whether there is support for the use of decision triggers in evidence-based management, (iii) share examples of the use of decision triggers, (iv) identify barriers impeding the development and implementation of decision triggers in practice, and (v) discuss solutions to address these barriers. ...
... These quantitative approaches reflect the more objective and statistically-based assessments of conservation outcomes used in the peer-reviewed literature (e.g., impact evaluation;Ferraro and Pattanayak, 2006;Coad et al., 2015). Quantitative condition assessments also address calls made by many scientists to better integrate environmental monitoring data into conservation evaluation and evidence-based management (Cook et al., 2016;Fox et al., 2014). Both qualitative and quantitative condition assessments rely on clearly defined conservation objectives (e.g., the maintenance of biodiversity), and environmental indicators to assess whether objectives are being achieved (Hockings et al., 2006). ...
... term monitoring data), and research has led to sound understanding of ecosystem processes and dynamics (i.e., to justify the selection of environmental indicators and numerically defined condition categories). Quantitative condition assessments offer a format that removes the subjectivity of relying on expert judgement (Cook et al., 2014), help condense complex monitoring data into standardised, transparent and easily communicated evaluations of biodiversity outcomes (Cook et al., 2016;Hockings et al., 2009), and can inform evidence-based management of PAs (Addison et al., 2016,Fig. 1b). ...
... This requires a much greater awareness and understanding about the role of MPAs as a tool for biodiversity protection. conservation management (Cook et al., 2016;Ferraro and Pattanayak, 2006;Fox et al., 2014). Despite this desire to implement quantitative condition assessments, informants described a number of challenges (Figs. 2 and 3), acknowledging that both scientists and practitioners have a role in making the transition from qualitative to quantitative condition assessments of biodiversity outcomes. ...
Article
Protected area management effectiveness (PAME) evaluation is increasingly undertaken to evaluate governance, assess conservation outcomes and inform evidence-based management of protected areas (PAs). Within PAME, quantitative approaches to assess biodiversity outcomes are now emerging, where biological monitoring data are directly assessed against quantitative (numerically defined) condition categories (termed quantitative condition assessments). However, more commonly qualitative condition assessments are employed in PAME, which use descriptive condition categories and are evaluated largely with expert judgement that can be subject to a range of biases, such as linguistic uncertainty and overconfidence. Despite the benefits of increased transparency and repeatability of evaluations, quantitative condition assessments are rarely used in PAME. To understand why, we interviewed practitioners from all Australian marine protected area (MPA) networks, which have access to long-term biological monitoring data and are developing or conducting PAME evaluations. Our research revealed that there is a desire within management agencies to implement quantitative condition assessment of biodiversity outcomes in Australian MPAs. However, practitioners report many challenges in transitioning from undertaking qualitative to quantitative condition assessments of biodiversity outcomes, which are hampering progress. Challenges include a lack of agency capacity (staff numbers and money), knowledge gaps, and diminishing public and political support for PAs. We point to opportunities to target strategies that will assist agencies overcome these challenges, including new decision support tools, approaches to better finance conservation efforts, and to promote more management relevant science. While a single solution is unlikely to achieve full evidence-based conservation, we suggest ways for agencies to target strategies and advance PAME evaluations toward best practice.
... Retrospective analyses of the Pipistrelle extinction [14], and that of other threatened species extinctions [13,15], suggest that many conservation failures-including some of the examples above-are partly attributable to inadequate preparatory planning. In particular, these analyses recommended that managers need to anticipate extinctions, and should identify thresholds ("trigger points") for when important actions should be implemented. ...
... Trigger points offer two significant benefits. First, they use the best information to calculate when to act, weighing the relevant costs, benefits, and uncertainties before the decision is made [15]. Second, they make it harder for factors such as political pressure, or shifting-baselines, to subliminally dissuade managers from making difficult choices [16]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many endangered species exist in only a single population, and almost all species that go extinct will do so from their last remaining population. Understanding how to best conserve these single population threatened species (SPTS) is therefore a distinct and important task for threatened species conservation science. As a last resort, managers of SPTS may consider taking the entire population into captivity– ex situ , in toto conservation. In the past, this choice has been taken to the great benefit of the SPTS, but it has also lead to catastrophe. Here, we develop a decision-support tool for planning when to trigger this difficult action. Our method considers the uncertain and ongoing decline of the SPTS, the possibility that drastic ex situ action will fail, and the opportunities offered by delaying the decision. Specifically, these benefits are additional time for ongoing in situ actions to succeed, and opportunities for the managers to learn about the system. To illustrate its utility, we apply the decision tool to four retrospective case-studies of declining SPTS. As well as offering support to this particular decision, our tool illustrates why trigger points for difficult conservation decisions should be formulated in advance, but must also be adaptive. A trigger-point for the ex situ , in toto conservation of a SPTS, for example, will not take the form of a simple threshold abundance.
... The use of thresholds or triggers for action has been suggested as a mechanism to formally incorporate monitoring data into management decisions (e.g. Connors & Cooper, 2014) and there is support from both researchers and practitioners for the use of decision triggers in the management of natural systems Cook, de Bie, Keith, & Addison, 2016). South Africa uses thresholds in management practice (thresholds of potential concern; Biggs & Rogers, 2003) and several countries are shifting towards the adoption of trigger-based approaches (e.g. ...
... United States (Martin et al., 2011); Canada (Timko & Innes, 2009); Australia (Addison, de Bie, & Rumpff, 2015); New Zealand ). While methods and concepts that inform when to intervene in natural systems have been described in many ways (see Cook et al., 2016), we T A B L E 1 Key steps needed to develop decision triggers and where they align with steps in natural resource management frameworks (using terminology from each framework) ...
Article
Decision triggers show great potential for facilitating timely management action, promoting evidence-based management and preventing undesirable changes to the status of species, ecosystems and threats. Integration of decision triggers into day-to-day management practice has been slow, constrained by insufficient resources and limited in-house expertise. Arguably, the greatest impediment is the lack of an overarching process with robust and accessible methods for developing and implementing decision triggers in a manner that fits within an organisation's established processes and skill sets. 2.We identify the steps necessary for setting decision triggers and highlight how these steps align with commonly used conservation planning and management frameworks, for ease of adoption. 3.We emphasise that decision triggers do not require a known ecological threshold, and can be applied to data rich and data poor contexts, with single or multiple management objectives. 4.Synthesis and applications. This work highlights the necessary steps involved, and importantly, the suite of methods that can be used to set decision triggers with the aim of supporting practitioners in the development of robust and defensible decision triggers. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Over the past two decades, scholars and practitioners have called for a shift towards evidence-based conservation to ensure management interventions are effective and have the desired impact (Ferraro and Pattanayak, 2006;Sutherland et al., 2004). Yet the long-standing need for adequate human and financial resources (Gill et al., 2017) poses significant barriers to developing a systematic and scientifically-defensible foundation of evidence that can inform adaptive management, policy, and strategic planning (Cook et al., 2016). Consequently, a substantial disconnect exists between scholarly discussion and onground practice in both developed and developing countries. ...
... Consequently, a substantial disconnect exists between scholarly discussion and onground practice in both developed and developing countries. Longterm efforts to standardize best practices in conservation (e.g., the Conservation Measures Partnership) have transformed conservation planning and implementation (Stem et al., 2005), but real examples of adaptive management remain rare (Cook et al., 2016monitoring practices on the ground frequently inadequate to support real-time decision-making at multiple spatial scales (from local to global) by the necessary array of actors (e.g., conservation managers, policy makers, funders). Because ecological monitoring can be expensive, particularly in remote locations, and in extreme cases can equal or surpass the cost of other management objectives (e.g. ...
Article
Sufficiently rigorous monitoring and evaluation can assess the effectiveness of management actions to conserve natural resources. However, costs of monitoring can be high in relation to program budgets, so it is critical to design monitoring efforts to ensure a high return on investment. To assess the relative contribution of different monitoring strategies to yield information for management decisions, we examine the evolution of a multi-year monitoring program across several MPAs in West Papua, Indonesia. Three monitoring strategies were implemented: external expert, science practitioner, and community monitoring staff. We place the monitoring objectives in a decision science framework, with six explicit fundamental objectives for monitoring to evaluate performance of marine protected areas. We examine each strategy in light of the six objectives to evaluate: 1) power to detect change, 2) extent of local capacity development, and 3) cost effectiveness. Over time, costs were reduced and scientific value increased through clear communication of science objectives, outcome-driven experimental design, adequately resourced monitoring programs, and a long-term view that anticipates phasing out outside consultants and transitioning monitoring responsibilities fully to locally-based staff. Investments to develop capacity of staff living locally to perform data management, analysis, interpretation, and science communication proved the most cost-effective approach in the long-term. With many globally important ecosystems in developing countries, developing local scientific capacity for the full cycle of monitoring is key to informed decision-making and ensuring long-term sustainability of efforts to conserve biodiversity.
... The evidence-based conservation movement (Dicks et al. 2014) provides an excellent foundation with which to assess the current integration of evolutionary concepts into conservation. It is increasingly recognized that for science to be translated into practice it must address management-relevant questions (e.g., Fazey et al. 2005), provide decision-support tools (e.g., Cook et al. 2016), and be coupled with active engagement between scientists and managers (Cook et al. 2013). Unfortunately, research into the translation of evolutionary biology into conservation practice is still in its infancy; there is little more than anecdotal evidence of the uptake of theory (Smith et al. 2014;Ridley & Alexander 2016). ...
... Conservation practitioners have limited resources and competing management priorities, potentially making them reluctant to change management strategies without clear evidence for better outcomes (Cook et al. 2016). The absence of specific guidance for practical action and of evidence of the effectiveness of alternative management actions may be important barriers to greater integration of evolutionary biology ). ...
Article
There is increasing recognition among conservation scientists that long-term conservation outcomes could be improved through better integration of evolutionary theory into management practices. Despite concerns that the importance of key concepts emerging from evolutionary theory (i.e., evolutionary principles and processes) are not being recognized by managers, there has been little effort to determine the level of integration of evolutionary theory into conservation policy and practice. We assessed conservation policy at 3 scales (international, national, and provincial) on 3 continents to quantify the degree to which key evolutionary concepts, such as genetic diversity and gene flow, are being incorporated into conservation practice. We also evaluated the availability of clear guidance within the applied evolutionary biology literature as to how managers can change their management practices to achieve better conservation outcomes. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of maintaining genetic diversity, conservation policies provide little guidance about how this can be achieved in practice and other relevant evolutionary concepts, such as inbreeding depression, are mentioned rarely. In some cases the poor integration of evolutionary concepts into management reflects a lack of decision-support tools in the literature. Where these tools are available, such as risk-assessment frameworks, they are not being adopted by conservation policy makers, suggesting that the availability of a strong evidence base is not the only barrier to evolutionarily enlightened management. We believe there is a clear need for more engagement by evolutionary biologists with policy makers to develop practical guidelines that will help managers make changes to conservation practice. There is also an urgent need for more research to better understand the barriers to and opportunities for incorporating evolutionary theory into conservation practice.
... Systems behaviour charts have an emerging use in conservation, drawing on established control chart methods used in commerce and industry. Systems behaviour charts and decision triggers offer conservation leaders new insights into the behaviour of a system and allow them to monitor specific thresholds that prompt them to act if the system enters an undesirable state (Black, 2015;Cook, de Bie, Keith, & Addison, 2016). Limits can be set for observable trends in order to detect declines in otherwise stable endangered species populations, and these methods have already been implemented in several countries (Addison, de Bie, & Rumpff, 2015;Timko & Innes, 2009). ...
... Limits can be set for observable trends in order to detect declines in otherwise stable endangered species populations, and these methods have already been implemented in several countries (Addison, de Bie, & Rumpff, 2015;Timko & Innes, 2009). Such methods allow conservation leaders and project managers to focus their attentions elsewhere while reducing management operations or dedicated resource (Cook et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation projects have limited resources and an ever expanding to-do list, presenting a significant leadership challenge. Mid-term evaluations can be informative tools to check how short term activities and resources are achieving long term conservation outcomes. This research study involved a programme evaluation of a successful species recovery project in Mauritius, using a systems-thinking approach to conservation management, and utilising a Theory of Change to assess the effectiveness of short term activities on long term impacts. This systematic method of evaluation gave greater clarity on resource planning, performance indicators and supporting processes, with observations that could be incorporated into ongoing plans. Such an approach could be used by funding organisations or by local management teams to review project performance without the need for a comparator, extensive benchmark data, nor a prescriptive management standards framework.
... As described above, conservation occurs as projects at all scales go through an iterative management process, supported by various planning and decision-support frameworks (CMP, 2013;Cook et al., 2016;Schwartz et al., 2017). Although many of these frameworks at least implicitly support evidence-based practice, there are several steps that can be taken to more explicitly incorporate evidence. ...
Article
Full-text available
The practice of conservation occurs within complex socioecological systems fraught with challenges that require transparent, defensible, and often socially engaged project planning and management. Planning and decision support frameworks are designed to help conservation practitioners increase planning rigor, project accountability, stakeholder participation, transparency in decisions, and learning. We describe and contrast five common frameworks within the context of six fundamental questions (why, who, what, where, when, how) at each of three planning stages of adaptive management (project scoping, operational planning, learning). We demonstrate that decision support frameworks provide varied and extensive tools for conservation planning and management. However, using any framework in isolation risks diminishing potential benefits since no one framework covers the full spectrum of potential conservation planning and decision challenges. We describe two case studies that have effectively deployed tools from across conservation frameworks to improve conservation actions and outcomes. Attention to the critical questions for conservation project planning should allow practitioners to operate within any framework and adapt tools to suit their specific management context. We call on conservation researchers and practitioners to regularly use decision support tools as standard practice for framing both practice and research.
... Among conservationists there is almost universal agreement on the need for evidence-based management decisions and for science that supports conservation decision-making [4]. However, management decisions remain primarily based on the application of experience without careful evaluation of evidence [5][6][7]. For conservation management to be truly evidence-based, the science should be embedded within the management problem to facilitate the choice of a best management action. ...
Article
Reintroduction biology is a field of scientific research that aims to inform translocations of endangered species. We review two decades of published literature to evaluate whether reintroduction science is evolving in its decision-support role, as called for by advocates of evidence-based conservation. Reintroduction research increasingly addresses a priori hypotheses, but remains largely focused on short-term population establishment. Similarly, studies that directly assist decisions by explicitly comparing alternative management actions remain a minority. A small set of case studies demonstrate full integration of research in the reintroduction decision process. We encourage the use of tools that embed research in decision-making, particularly the explicit consideration of multiple management alternatives because this is the crux of any management decisions.
... Further, it suggests that the improved practices generated by learning from failure are discounted against acknowledging failure. This perspective contrasts the common rhetoric that learning is an essential activity for effective action, as reflected by its inclusion in most evidence-based decisionmaking frameworks (Cook et al. 2016). Fear of failure and purported dichotomies (e.g., planning versus implementation), commonly restrict flows of information and opportunities to learn in the conservation sector, as demonstrated for spatial prioritization (Knight et al. 2008) and recovery planning (Bottrill et al. 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Achieving nature conservation goals require grappling with ‘wicked’ problems. These intractable problems arise from the complexity and dynamism of the social–ecological systems in which they are embedded. To enhance their ability to address these problems, conservation professionals are increasingly looking to the transdisciplines of systems thinking and evaluation, which provide philosophies, theories, methods, tools and approaches that show promise for addressing intractable problems in a variety of other sectors. These transdisciplines come together especially around praxis, i.e., the process by which a theory or idea is enacted, embodied or realized. We present a review and synthesis of the learnings about praxis that have emerged from The Silwood Group, a consortium of conservation professionals, professional evaluators, and complexity and systems thinkers. The Silwood Group believes that for conservation activities to achieve ambitious goals, we should benefit nature without compromising the well-being of people, and that framing a praxis for conservation in the context of social–ecological systems will provide the greatest potential for positive impact. The learnings are presented as four key principles of a ‘praxis for effective conservation’. The four principles are: (1) attend to the whole with humility; (2) engage constructively with the values, cultures, politics, and histories of stakeholders; (3) learn through evaluative, systemic enquiry, and (4) exercise wisdom in judgement and action. We also provide descriptions and references for tools and methods to support such praxis and discuss how the thinking and approaches used by conservation professionals can be transformed to achieve greater effectiveness.
... Although monitoring and management activities are distinct, each have decision points (Cook et al. 2016). Here these decision points are called "triggers." ...
The primary goals of environmental monitoring are to indicate if unexpected changes related to economic development are occurring in the physical, chemical, and biological attributes of ecosystems and to inform meaningful management intervention. Although achieving these objectives is conceptually simple, there are varying scientific and social challenges often resulting in their breakdown. Conceptualizing, designing, and operating monitoring programs to better delineate and align adaptive monitoring, adaptive management, and environmental risk assessment aspects with hypothesis-driven approaches, strong inference, and Adverse Outcome Pathways can overcome many of the challenges affecting existing environmental programs. Generally, a robust monitoring program is characterized by hypothesis-driven questions associated with potential adverse outcomes, and feedback loops informed by data to focus monitoring. Specifically, key and basic features are predictions of future observations (triggers) and mechanisms to respond to success or failure of those predictions (tiers). These processes accelerate or decelerate effort to highlight ignorance while concurrently preventing the potentially unnecessary escalation of unguided monitoring and management. The deployment of the mutually reinforcing components described in this work can allow for more meaningful and actionable monitoring programs which better associate activities with consequences. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... To encourage management accountability and action, the monitoring design should outline decision triggers (Lindenmayer et al. 2013) and identify who is responsible for management intervention. Decision triggers indicate critical stages along a species' population trajectory, or a level of impact from threatening process, where an action is required (Lindenmayer et al. 2013;Addison et al. 2016;Cook et al. 2016 and decisive action is necessary to avert negative outcomes or prevent extinction (Martin et al. 2012). For example, decisive action by the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) recovery team in response to critically low numbers of wild individuals triggered a captive breeding program that averted extinction of the wild population (Martin et al. 2012). ...
... Irrespective of the ultimate cause, the inability to predict suggests a lack of understanding and provides a general cue to investigators to more thoroughly examine the changes with more specific and refined tools (Montgomery 2009). The conceptual and practical utility and simplicity of the adaptive process to investigate change facilitated by control charting has been recognized, and the processes and tools have spread to other disciplines, including environmental monitoring Cook et al. 2016;de Bie et al. 2018). Specifically in monitoring, control charting can be used to identify change during surveillance phases of adaptive programs, to initiate more intensive studies focusing on changes not found at reference locations, to initiate studies to separate real differences from a poorly performing or inappropriate model, and to identify, understand, and track subtle change (Arciszewski et al. 2017b). ...
Article
Control charting is a simple technique to identify change and is well‐suited for use in water quality programs. Control charts accounting for co‐variation associated with discharge and time were used to explore example and representative variables routinely measured in the Athabasca River near the oil sands area for indications of change, including 5 major ions (chloride, sodium, sulphate, calcium, magnesium), 5 total metals (aluminum, iron, thallium, molybdenum, vanadium) and total suspended solids (TSS). Regression equations developed from reference data (1988‐2009) were used to predict observations and calculate residuals from later test observations (2010‐2016). Evidence of change was sought in the deviation of residual errors from the test period compared to the patterns expected and defined from probability distributions of the reference residuals using the Odds Ratio. In most cases, the patterns in test residuals were not statistically different from those expected from the reference period, especially when data was examined annually. However, some differences were apparent and more differences were apparent as data accumulated and was analysed over time. In sum, the analyses suggest higher concentrations than predicted in most major ions, but the source of the changes is uncertain. In contrast, most metals were lower than expected and may be related to changing deposition patterns of materials or weathering of minerals during construction activities of the 2000's which influence the reference data used. The analyses also suggest alternative approaches may be necessary to understand change in some variables. Despite this, the results support the use of control charts to detect changes in water chemistry parameters and the value of the tool in surveillance phases of long‐term and adaptive monitoring programs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Given that TEAM's camera trapping protocol provides statistically robust data for assessing trends in abundance, as exemplified by the WPI, we recommend that as longer-term data series are accumulated more attention is devoted to validate statistical approaches for determining decision thresholds (see also Black, 2015). This will require robust baseline data to set trigger points in relation to natural oscillations of the study species or system (Cook et al., 2016). More generally, towards this end greater collaboration between scientists and managers will be determinant, particularly for interpreting monitoring data and ensuring that they provide the information required for management (Lindenmayer and Likens, 2010;Lindenmayer et al., 2013). ...
Article
While there are well established early warning systems for a number of natural phenomena (e.g. earthquakes, catastrophic fires, tsunamis), we do not have an early warning system for biodiversity. Yet, we are losing species at an unprecedented rate, and this especially occurs in tropical rainforests, the biologically richest but most eroded biome on earth. Unfortunately, there is a chronic gap in standardized and pan-tropical data in tropical forests, affecting our capacity to monitor changes and anticipate future scenarios. The Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network was established to contribute addressing this issue, as it generates real time data to monitor long-term trends in tropical biodiversity and guide conservation practice. We present the Network and focus primarily on the Terrestrial Vertebrates protocol, that uses systematic camera trapping to detect forest mammals and birds, and secondarily on the Zone of Interaction protocol, that measures changes in the anthroposphere around the core monitoring area. With over 3 million images so far recorded, and managed using advanced information technology, TEAM has created the most important data set on tropical forest mammals globally. We provide examples of site-specific and global analyses that, combined with data on anthropogenic disturbance collected in the larger ecosystem where monitoring sites are, allowed us to understand the drivers of changes of target species and communities in space and time. We discuss the potential of this system as a candidate model towards setting up an early warning system that can effectively anticipate changes in coupled human-natural system, trigger management actions, and hence decrease the gap between research and management responses. In turn, TEAM produces robust biodiversity indicators that meet the requirements set by global policies such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Standardization in data collection and public sharing of data in near real time are essential features of such system.
... To encourage management accountability and action, the monitoring design should outline decision triggers (Lindenmayer et al. 2013) and identify who is responsible for management intervention. Decision triggers indicate critical stages along a species' population trajectory, or a level of impact from threatening process, where an action is required (Lindenmayer et al. 2013;Addison et al. 2016;Cook et al. 2016 and decisive action is necessary to avert negative outcomes or prevent extinction (Martin et al. 2012). For example, decisive action by the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) recovery team in response to critically low numbers of wild individuals triggered a captive breeding program that averted extinction of the wild population (Martin et al. 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Monitoring is essential for effective conservation and management of threatened species and ecological communities. However, more often than not, threatened species monitoring is poorly implemented, meaning that conservation decisions are not informed by the best available knowledge. We outline challenges and provide best‐practice guidelines for threatened species monitoring, informed by the diverse perspectives of 26 conservation managers and scientists from a range of organisations with expertise across Australian species and ecosystems. Our collective expertise synthesised five key principles that aim to enhance the design, implementation and outcomes of threatened species monitoring. These principles are (i) integrate monitoring with management; (ii) design fit‐for‐purpose monitoring programs; (iii) engage people and organisations; (iv) ensure good data management; and (v) communicate the value of monitoring. We describe how to incorporate these principles into existing frameworks to improve current and future monitoring programs. Effective monitoring is essential to inform appropriate management and enable better conservation outcomes for our most vulnerable species and ecological communities.
... Rigorous monitoring is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of management actions to conserve coral reefs and enabling adaptive management. Monitoring is a crucial component of an informed process for making decisions, and design should be driven by the decisions context, and associated risks and uncertainties (Lyons et al. 2008); this is especially important when the efficacy or magnitude of impact of management actions is uncertain (Converse et al. 2013, Cook et al. 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
In the face of climate change, warming oceans, and repeated mass coral bleaching, coral reef conservation is at a timely crossroads. There is a new urgency to support and strengthen a rich history of conservation partnerships and actions, while also building toward new actions to meet unparalleled global threats. The goal of this white paper is to synthesize and summarize the diversity of tools, approaches and solutions for coral reef conservation implemented to date and to understand the enabling conditions that lead to successful coral reef conservation. Framed as a “solution-scape,” this white paper seeks to support ongoing decisions to strengthen existing assets and build new investments into portfolios of global coral reef conservation that are equitable and aligned with diverse cultures and worldviews. This white paper addresses the following main themes: • What is success for coral reef conservation? • Enabling conditions for conservation and management success • Technical tools for coral reef conservation • What’s new for climate-smart coral reef conservation? We conclude with 10 recommendations that focus on equitable conservation practices that will align successful interventions with diverse cultures and worldviews, help ensure that the right decisions are made, and strengthen investments into conservation portfolios that will lead to successful coral reef conservation.
... 5.1 | Incorporating use of evidence into conservation projects As described above, conservation occurs as projects at all scales go through an iterative management process, supported by various planning and decision-support frameworks (CMP, 2013;Cook et al., 2016;Schwartz et al., 2017). Although many of these frameworks at least implicitly support evidence-based practice, there are several steps that can be taken to more explicitly incorporate evidence. ...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing interest in evidence-based conservation, yet there are no widely accepted standard definitions of evidence, let alone guidance on how to use it in the context of conservation and natural resource management practice. In this paper, we first draw on insights of evidence-based practice from different disciplines to define evidence as being the "relevant information used to assess one or more hypotheses related to a question of interest." We then construct a typology of different kinds of information, hypotheses, and evidence and show how these different types can be used in different steps of conservation practice. In particular, we distinguish between specific evidence used to assess project hypotheses and generic evidence used to assess generic hypotheses. We next build on this typology to develop a decision tree to support practitioners in how to appropriately use available specific and generic evidence in a given conservation situation. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of how to better promote and enable evidence-based conservation in both projects and across the discipline of conservation. Our hope is that by understanding and using evidence better, conservation can both become more effective and attract increased support from society. K E Y W O R D S adaptive management, biodiversity, environmental evidence, evidence-based conservation, evidence-based practice, natural resource management, project management
... Although monitoring and management activities are distinct, each have decision points (Cook et al. 2016). Here these decision points are called "triggers." ...
Detecting unwanted changes associated with localized human activities in aquatic ecosystems requires defining the value of an indicator expected at a site in the absence of development. Ideally, adequate and comparable baseline data will be collected at an exposure location prior to that development, but this is rarely done. Instead, comparisons are made using various designs to overcome the inadequate or missing baseline data. Commonly these comparisons are done over short time periods using information from local reference sites to estimate variability expected at the exposed site. These truncated designs are often evaluated using p-values that may have little bearing on ecologically relevant changes. To remedy the reliance of studies on small datasets collected at reference sites, other designs emphasize regional analyses, but these may be insensitive to site-specific changes. Some designs may also forego discussing the consequences of detecting any differences. A new monitoring framework has been proposed to utilize existing solutions, simplify analysis, and focus on the detection of meaningful changes. It is illustrated here using data on fish health from a large-scale, long-term program in the Moose River basin in northern Ontario. This framework advocates interpretation of data at multiple scales: within-site, locally, and regionally. Primary focus is on estimating a range from a probability distribution of historical data collected at a specific location where 95% of future observations are predicted to occur. Changes at the exposed site are also compared to historical and contemporary expectations from proximate and regional reference sites. Critical effect sizes can also be derived from regional reference data to evaluate the magnitude of differences observed between any two sites. Any unexpected changes inform future monitoring decisions provided by a priori guidance. Adoption of this framework extends the utility of monitoring programs where commitments to long term collections have been made, advocates harmonization of studies over time and space, and focuses attention on unusual observations. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... The benefits of incorporating ecological data into management practices are well documented in the literature on restoration and conservation methods (Cook et al., 2016). Adaptive management, which combines experimental design and management efforts, requires baseline data to create models as well as monitoring data to quantify outcomes (Walters and Holling, 1990). ...
Article
Full-text available
The coordinated use of ecological data is critical to the proper management of invasive species in the coastal wetlands of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Researchers and government programs have been increasingly calling for the use of data in management activities to increase the likelihood of success and add transparency in decision making. Web-enabled databases have the potential to provide managers working in Great Lakes coastal wetlands with relevant data to support management decisions. To assess the potential value of these databases to managers in Laurentian Great Lakes states, we surveyed wetland managers to determine their current data usage as well as their future data interests and catalogued the online databases currently available. Surveys were disseminated via email to managers in 56 different organizations overseeing invasive species management efforts in Great Lakes coastal wetlands; 46 responses were included in this analysis. Of the survey respondents, all reported using raw biotic data for decision making, (i.e. presence of target species) but many indicated that they would prefer to incorporate a greater variety of data, as well as more complex information. Our survey found that managers used web-enabled databases, but most databases that we catalogued only provided presence data for wetland biota. We concluded that databases can provide the types of data sought by invasive species managers but have unmet potential to be integrated into responsive management processes.
... Explicit consideration of emergency response in recovery planning can be critical to preventing species extinctions (Woinarski et al., 2017). Predefined triggers for emergency conservation interventions (i.e., developed in the preparation phase, Figure 1) are likely to be highly beneficial for facilitating good decision making for analogous scenarios (Cook et al., 2016), because interventions need to be rapid and are of high consequence. Triggers should consist of four key elements, (1) when (the requisite level of threat/s), (2) where (e.g., the location of critical populations), (3) what (the actions to be implemented, e.g., targeted threat mitigation and translocation), and (4) how (the scope of such actions). ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Emergency conservation interventions will be increasingly necessary to prevent extinctions or severe population bottlenecks as extreme events become more frequent. We detail the emergency extraction of the endangered Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachpterus) during the unprecedented 2019–2020 Australian Black Summer bushfires, an intervention that led to the rapid establishment of a temporary ex situ insurance population sourced from an area under immediate threat from bushfire (Croajingolong National Park, Victoria). The intervention was triggered, coordinated, and implemented within a 4‐week period, with re‐release to the wild within 2 months. We present this case study within a framework for emergency conservation interventions, based on the emergency management phases of preparation, response, and recovery, with the addition of an evaluation phase. The preparation phase involved compiling existing knowledge and capacity to facilitate the operation. The response phase consisted of (a) initiation and planning of the intervention (coordination) and (b) implementation, that is, the translocation of 15 birds from an area under threat of bushfire to a captive institution (>500 km). The recovery phase saw the insurance population re‐released to unburnt habitat after the bushfire had ceased. The evaluation phase incorporated lessons learnt from the other three phases as part of an adaptive management approach. We reflect on the Eastern Bristlebird emergency conservation intervention to explore how we can better prepare for, respond to, and recover from the large range of emergencies faced by biodiversity around the world.
... We sought to include search terms that would identify studies related to the management of a system (manage*), and focused on management intervention (action*). Previous authors have identified a wide range of terms used to describe the triggerpoint concept Cook et al., 2016). To reflect this, we included diverse terminology in our search string. ...
Article
Successful, state‐dependent management, where the goal of management is to maintain a system within a desired state, involves defining the boundaries between different states. Once these boundaries have been defined, managers require a strategic action plan, with thresholds that will initiate management interventions to either maintain or return the system to a desired state. This approach to management is widely used across diverse industries from agriculture to medicine to information technology, but has only been adopted in conservation management relatively recently. Conservation practitioners have expressed a willingness to integrate this structured approach into their management systems, but have also voiced concerns, including the lack of a robust process for doing so. Given the widespread use of state‐dependent management in other fields, we conducted an extensive review of the literature on threshold‐based management, to gain insight into how and where it is applied, and identify potential lessons for conservation management. We identified 22 industries using 75 different methods for setting management thresholds, spanning six broad analytical approaches, including expert driven, statistical, predictive, optimisation, experiments and artificial intelligence methods. We found that the objectives of each study influenced the approaches used, including the methods for setting thresholds and selecting actions, and the number of thresholds set. The role of value judgements in setting thresholds was clear, as studies across all industries frequently involved experts in setting thresholds, often accompanied by computational tools to simulate the consequences of proposed thresholds under different conditions. Of the 30 conservation studies identified, two thirds used expert‐driven methods, consistent with prior evidence that experience‐based information often drives conservation management decisions. The methods we identified from other disciplines could support conservation decision‐makers with setting thresholds for management interventions in different contexts, linking monitoring to management actions and ensuring that conservation interventions are timely and effective. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Following others (e.g., IUCN, 2013), we suggest that there are at least five dimensions of the argument that must be persuasive to relevant decision makers (Table 1). First, we need to present a rationale rooted in the philosophy of wildlife conservation (e.g., Redford et al., 2011), which in turn is rooted in a system of values (Cook, de Bie, Keith, & Addison, 2016). Second, we need to make the historical case that the species once occupied the territory and was extirpated through human actions that could be reversed. ...
Article
Full-text available
Reintroduction—defined here as the return of a species to a part of its range where it has been extirpated—is a critical pathway to conservation in the 21st century. As late as the 1960s, jaguars (Panthera onca) inhabited an expansive region in the central mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, a habitat unique in all of jaguar range. Here, we make the case for reintroduction, building a rhetorical bridge between conservation science and practice. First, we present a rationale rooted in the philosophy of wildlife conservation. Second, we show that the species once occupied this territory and was extirpated by human actions that should no longer pose a threat. Third, we demonstrate that the proposed recovery area provides suitable ecological conditions. Fourth, we discuss how return of the species could be a net benefit to people, explicitly recognizing a diversity of values and concerns. Fifth, we show that reintroduction is practical and feasible over a realistic time horizon. Returning the jaguar to this area will enhance the recovery of an endangered species in the United States, further its range‐wide conservation, and restore an essential part of North America's cultural and natural heritage.
... cost-effectiveness, indicator selection, indicator species, livestock grazing, management, multiple threats, prescribed burning, prioritisation biodiversity, for example, probability of persistence of a species under the threat, and an explicit definition of the level of change (in threat or its impact) that is required to trigger management. Such trigger points or decision triggers are often used to indicate when a system is moving to an undesirable state and inform managers when to intervene to ensure timely actions (Cook et al., 2016). Trigger points may be specified as the level of the threat itself or their impacts on the system and established from long-term monitoring data using methods such as control charts (Morrison, 2008), or based on expert judgement (Martin, Burgman, et al., 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
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 task. Indicators help simplify the challenge of monitoring but choosing the best indicator(s) to inform management is not straightforward. 2.We provide a decision framework that can help identify optimal indicators to trigger management in a system faced with multiple threats. The approach evaluates indicators based on criteria spanning monitoring efficiency, management outcomes and the economic constraints for decision‐making. Critical decision factors (or parameters) are identified and detailed in a six‐step process to estimate the cost‐effectiveness of alternate indicators, including threat impacts, sensitivity of indicators to detect change, and the benefits, costs and feasibility of alternative indicators and management actions. 3.Using the Kimberley as a case study, we evaluate eighteen indicators for informing management of three key threats in the region: fire and grazing, feral cat predation, and weeds. We show that indicator selection based on our approach can help improve the expected outcome of management decisions under limited resources. By accounting for multiple factors in estimating benefit and costs of monitoring, our approach improves on common approaches that select indicators based only on whether they are sensitive to change and/or cheap to monitor. We also identify how uncertainty in decision factors influences indicator selection. 4.Although cost‐effectiveness analyses are gaining popularity, ours is the first study to integrate multiple selection criteria using a return on investment framework to compare indicators for monitoring multiple threats and triggering management.
... (Pereira et al. 2013). Moreover, there is the need to implement thresholds in the status of monitored variables, i.e., "decision triggers" (see Cook et al. 2016), which indicate when to undertake management, and thereby avoid undesirable change. ...
... undesirable thresholds, managers may define decision triggers (Link 2005), or specified management actions that they automatically enact when certain ecological conditions are present (Fig. 2). This promotes actions planned in advance, guides decisions via empirical evidence, and increases transparency (Cook et al. 2016). Defining triggers in advance may also avoid delays and stalemates from policymaking and reduce uncertainty for stakeholders (e.g., fishers, tourists). ...
Article
Full-text available
Ecology is often governed by nonlinear dynamics. Nonlinear ecological relationships can include thresholds-incremental changes in drivers that provoke disproportionately large ecological responses. Among the species that experience nonlinear and threshold dynamics are Pacific salmon (Oncor-hynchus spp.). These culturally, ecologically, and economically significant fishes are in many places declining and management focal points. Often, managers can influence or react to ecological conditions that salmon experience, suggesting that nonlinearities, especially thresholds, may provide opportunities to inform decisions. However, nonlinear dynamics are not always invoked in management decisions involving salmon. Here, we review reported nonlinearities and thresholds in salmon ecology, describe potential applications that scientists and managers could develop to leverage nonlinear dynamics, and offer a path toward decisions that account for ecological nonlinearities and thresholds to improve salmon outcomes. It appears that nonlinear dynamics are not uncommon in salmon ecology and that many management arenas may potentially leverage them to enable more effective or efficient decisions. Indeed, decisions guided by nonlinearities and thresholds may be particularly desirable considering salmon management arenas are often characterized by limited resources and mounting ecological stressors, practical constraints, and conservation challenges. More broadly, many salmon systems are data-rich and there are an extensive range of ecological contexts in which salmon are sensitive to anthropogenic decisions. Approaches developed to leverage nonlinearities in salmon ecology may serve as examples that may inform analogous approaches in other systems and taxa.
... (Pereira et al. 2013). Moreover, there is the need to implement thresholds in the status of monitored variables, i.e., "decision triggers" (see Cook et al. 2016), which indicate when to undertake management, and thereby avoid undesirable change. ...
... Population monitoring is crucial for measuring the decline and/or recovery of threatened species. Its applications include informing decisions about the best management action to take (Possingham et al. 2012), evaluating the outcomes of those actions (Lyons et al. 2008), and detecting sudden or rapid population decline in response to stochastic events or lack of appropriate management and invoking action when population size or trend declines below desirable levels (Block et al. 2001;Cook et al. 2016). However, population trends can be obscured or incorrectly identified when the detection of the species is imperfect during monitoring events, or varies in space and time (Yoccoz et al. 2001;Kéry and Schmidt 2008;Pellet et al. 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Imperfect detection of individuals in threatened wild populations is common and can obscure real population trends when it is unaccounted for in population monitoring, and therefore impede conservation decision making. For many threatened insects, there is a lack of biological information or available long-term data to inform how best to practice data collection and population monitoring. Here, we inform the design of a long-term population density monitoring protocol for Brachaspis robustus, a Nationally Endangered grasshopper endemic to the Mackenzie Basin of New Zealand. We use removal sampling (repeated visual searches of a predefined area where any individuals found are temporarily removed to achieve successive depletion) during a single austral summer season (November to March) to rapidly quantify seasonal and demographic visual detectability. Juvenile instars dominated population composition in all months except December and males represented > 50% of monthly captures. Adult females were 2–3 times larger than adult males, and 79% of those captured were found during the first search of an area compared to only 52% of adult males. The odds of detecting an individual increased by 6% per 1 mm of body length. Removal sampling was found to be an effective method for rapidly informing future long-term monitoring design for a visually cryptic, threatened insect. Recommendations include monitoring adult females as an index of population size, restricting monitoring to when adult abundance peaks (November and December), and conducting multiple monitoring events within peak months to counter the effects of daily and seasonal variation and imperfect detection.
... For all threats, we outlined mitigation practices to minimize their occurrence and/or impact (Supplement S1). We further outlined decision triggers and protocols for management intervention to ensure decisive action (Lindenmayer et al. 2013b;Cook et al. 2016). For example, if overdispersal occurred, we had decision triggers for the point of intervention, trap permits for neighboring areas to capture and return animals, and options for aerial tracking of animals. ...
Article
Reintroductions are increasingly being used to restore species and ecosystems. However, chances of successful establishment are often low. Key to improving success is careful consideration of threats, threat mitigation, monitoring and subsequent improvement to management. We demonstrate this planning, implementation and review process using the reintroduction of an endangered mesopredator, the eastern quoll Dasyurus viverrinus, in the first attempt to re‐establish it in the wild on mainland Australia. In March 2018, 20 captive‐bred quolls (10 male, 10 female) were released into Booderee National Park and monitored via telemetry, camera and cage trapping. There were many unknowns and, despite thorough consideration of threats, there were surprising outcomes. Within 3 months, 80% of animals had died; half due to predation, an expected threat. Other threats were unexpected yet, due to good monitoring and responsive management, were quickly detected and effective mitigation implemented. These learnings have been incorporated into revised translocation procedures. One year later, four founder quolls remained and had successfully bred. We highlight lessons applicable to other reintroductions. These are, the importance of: 1) conducting a thorough review of threats and implementing appropriate mitigation; 2) targeted monitoring and responsive management; 3) effective communication, education and engagement with the local community and stakeholders; and 4) ensuring learnings are disseminated and incorporated into future translocation plans. Threat assessment is an important step in identifying potential reasons for failure. However, actual threats can be realized only via experimentation and monitoring. Applying this knowledge to future reintroduction attempts can increase their chance of success. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Risk assessments should extend to monitoring effectiveness of restoration, for which a spatially explicit planning documentation (as exemplified by us) would be invaluable. The applicability of the risk assessment and monitoring increases if much-needed decision triggers are integrated into restoration and conservation planning (Casazza et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2016). ...
Article
Ecosystem restoration is gaining political and economic support worldwide, but its exact targets and costs often remain unclear. A key issue, both for predicting restoration success and assessing the costs, is the uncertainty of post-restoration development of the ecosystem. A specific combination of uncertainties emerges when ecosystem restoration would negatively affect pre-restoration species conservation values. Such dilemma appears to be common, but largely ignored in restoration planning; for example, in historically degraded forests, wetlands and grasslands that provide novel habitats for some threatened species. We present a framework of linked options for resolving the dilemma, and exemplify its application in extensive mire restoration in Estonia. The broad options include: redistributing the risks by timing; relocating restoration sites; modifying restoration techniques; and managing for future habitats of the species involved. In Estonia, we assessed these options based on spatially explicit mapping of expected future states of the ecosystem, their uncertainty, and the distribution of species at risk. Such planning documentation, combined with follow-up monitoring and experimentation, can be used for adaptive management, by funding organizations and for academic research.
... (Pereira et al. 2013). Moreover, there is the need to implement thresholds in the status of monitored variables, i.e., "decision triggers" (see Cook et al. 2016), which indicate when to undertake management, and thereby avoid undesirable change. ...
... Rigorous monitoring is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of management actions to conserve coral reefs and enabling adaptive management. Monitoring is a crucial component of an informed process for making decisions, and design should be driven by the decisions context, and associated risks and uncertainties (Lyons et al. 2008); this is especially important when the efficacy or magnitude of impact of management actions is uncertain (Converse et al. 2013, Cook et al. 2016). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
In the face of climate change, warming oceans, and repeated mass coral bleaching, coral reef conservation is at a timely crossroads. There is a new urgency to support and strengthen a rich history of conservation partnerships and actions, while also building toward new actions to meet unparalleled global threats. The goal of this white paper is to synthesize and summarize the diversity of tools, approaches and solutions for coral reef conservation implemented to date and to understand the enabling conditions that lead to successful coral reef conservation. Framed as a “solution-scape,” this white paper seeks to support ongoing decisions to strengthen existing assets and build new investments into portfolios of global coral reef conservation that are equitable and aligned with diverse cultures and worldviews. We conclude with 10 recommendations that focus on equitable conservation practices that will align successful interventions with diverse cultures and worldviews, help ensure that the right decisions are made, and strengthen investments into conservation portfolios that will lead to successful coral reef conservation.
... Rigorous monitoring is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of management actions to conserve coral reefs and enabling adaptive management. Monitoring is a crucial component of an informed process for making decisions, and design should be driven by the decisions context, and associated risks and uncertainties (Lyons et al. 2008); this is especially important when the efficacy or magnitude of impact of management actions is uncertain (Converse et al. 2013, Cook et al. 2016). ...
Book
Full-text available
In the face of climate change, warming oceans, and repeated mass coral bleaching, coral reef conservation is at a timely crossroads. There is a new urgency to support and strengthen a rich history of conservation partnerships and actions, while also building toward new actions to meet unparalleled global threats. The goal of this white paper is to synthesize and summarize the diversity of tools, approaches and solutions for coral reef conservation implemented to date and to understand the enabling conditions that lead to successful coral reef conservation. Framed as a "solution-scape," this white paper seeks to support ongoing decisions to strengthen existing assets and build new investments into portfolios of global coral reef conservation that are equitable and aligned with diverse cultures and worldviews. We conclude with 10 recommendations that focus on equitable conservation practices that will align successful interventions with diverse cultures and worldviews, help ensure that the right decisions are made, and strengthen investments into conservation portfolios that will lead to successful coral reef conservation.
Article
Decision-support models combine ecological understanding with utility considerations to evaluate potential results of management alternatives, thereby facilitating decision-making. They also provide a systematic, consistent, and rigorous framework for decision-making that is highly valuable for transparency in the management process. Despite the broad agreement on their importance, not many examples of organizations implementing their use at broad scale exist in the literature. Here we use the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry adoption and use of the SILVAH-Oak decision-support tool to guide management of mixed-oak forests as a case study to draw insights on managers’ adherence to decision-support tool recommendations. Of 97 cases evaluated, 69% of the managers chose to follow the decision-support tool recommendation. We attribute this high adherence to the manager-centered development of the SILVAH-Oak tool. When managers did not follow recommendations, they cited reasons related to the tool’s thresholds or considerations not accounted for by SILVAH-Oak. The delivery method was found to make a large difference in the level of adherence to the decision-support tool’s recommendations. Case studies like this one provide unique opportunities to learn about the adoption of decision-support tools.
Chapter
Societal concerns regarding the negative impacts of wind turbines on species and ecosystems have placed more emphasis on mitigation efforts pre- and post-construction. While the mitigation hierarchy is usually fronted to deal with negative ecological impacts, it is hardly employed accordingly. This calls for the core of the problem to be addressed, namely the lack of an appropriate framework for mitigation as a concept to properly address ecological impacts caused by wind-power development. In this chapter, mitigation is defined as the intervention(s) implemented to affect the risk of wind turbines impacting species or ecosystems. This concept is placed within a social-ecological context where the consecutive steps of the Mitigation Hierarchy may be affected by socioeconomic, technological or environmental spheres of interest. Decisions relating to mitigation are in principle normative, which necessitates addressing three central ethical questions: (1) In which circumstances should mitigation be implemented? (2) How much mitigation is required? (3) Who is responsible for mitigation? Implementing mitigation re-quires decision-makers to acknowledge that trouble never comes alone, which requires balancing trade-offs and embracing uncertainty into the decision-making process. Adaptive and participatory management may be the best decision-making framework to do this, as it allows for improved ecological understanding through monitoring and a flexible approach to mitigate locally, but manage regionally.
Article
Full-text available
Natural resource management uses expert judgement to estimate facts that inform important decisions. Unfortunately, expert judgement is often derived by informal and largely untested protocols, despite evidence that the quality of judgements can be improved with structured approaches. We attribute the lack of uptake of structured protocols to the dearth of illustrative examples that demonstrate how they can be applied within pressing time and resource constraints, while also improving judgements. In this paper, we demonstrate how the IDEA protocol for structured expert elicitation may be deployed to overcome operational challenges while improving the quality of judgements. The protocol was applied to the estimation of 14 future abiotic and biotic events on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Seventy-six participants with varying levels of expertise related to the Great Barrier Reef were recruited and allocated randomly to eight groups. Each participant provided their judgements using the four-step question format of the IDEA protocol (‘Investigate’, ‘Discuss’, ‘Estimate’, ‘Aggregate’) through remote elicitation. When the events were realised, the participant judgements were scored in terms of accuracy, calibration and informativeness. The results demonstrate that the IDEA protocol provides a practical, cost-effective, and repeatable approach to the elicitation of quantitative estimates and uncertainty via remote elicitation. We emphasise that i) the aggregation of diverse individual judgements into pooled group judgments almost always outperformed individuals, and ii) use of a modified Delphi approach helped to remove linguistic ambiguity, and further improved individual and group judgements. Importantly, the protocol encourages review, critical appraisal and replication, each of which is required if judgements are to be used in place of data in a scientific context. The results add to the growing body of literature that demonstrates the merit of using structured elicitation protocols. We urge decision-makers and analysts to use insights and examples to improve the evidence base of expert judgement in natural resource management.
Chapter
Wild sentient species (primarily vertebrates), both introduced and indigenous, are managed for a range of reasons and often using lethal methods. Use of these tools often raises ethical challenges and uncertainty for wildlife managers, and when combined with ecological and economic uncertainties, pest control programs can fail because these uncertainties are not fully evaluated or accounted for in program plans. Bryan Norton has frequently stated that environmental management problems are often “wicked” problems, and participants in the debate bring with them a wide range of values and vocabularies. He and others have suggested that such problems might best be solved within a framework of pragmatism implemented through an empirically based, multi-criteria adaptive management system. In this chapter, we propose the adoption of a probabilistic modelling approach that could help wildlife managers frame and formalize an adaptive management approach that integrates the 3Es: ecology, economics, and ethics, one that maximizes the probability of achieving sustainable and effective wildlife management outcomes.
Article
Full-text available
A key goal of ecological research is to obtain reliable estimates of population demographic rates, abundance and trends. However, a common challenge when studying wildlife populations is imperfect detection or breeding observation, which results in unknown survival status and reproductive output for some individuals. It is important to account for undetected individuals in population models because they contribute to population abundance and dynamics, and can have implications for population management. Promisingly, recent methodological advances provide us with the tools to integrate data from multiple independent sources to gain insights into the unobserved component of populations. We use data from five reintroduced populations of a threatened New Zealand bird, the hihi (Notiomystis cincta), to develop an integrated population modelling framework that allows missing values for survival status, sex and reproductive output to be modelled. Our approach combines parallel matrices of encounter and reproduction histories from marked individuals, as well as counts of unmarked recruits detected at the start of each breeding season. Integrating these multiple data types enabled us to simultaneously model survival and reproduction of detected individuals, undetected individuals and unknown (never detected) individuals to derive parameter estimates and projections based on all available data, thereby improving our understanding of population dynamics and enabling full propagation of uncertainty. The methods presented will be especially useful for management programmes for populations that are intensively monitored but where individuals are still imperfectly detected, as will be the case for most threatened wild populations.
Article
Full-text available
Indicators are effective tools for summarizing and communicating key aspects of ecosystem state and have a long record of use in marine pollution and fisheries management. The application of biodiversity indicators to assess the status of species, habitats, and functional diversity in marine conservation and policy, however, is still developing and multiple indicator roles and features are emerging. For example, some operational biodiversity indicators trigger management action when a threshold is reached, while others play an interpretive, or surveillance, role in informing management. Links between biodiversity indicators and the pressures affecting them are frequently unclear as links can be obscured by environmental change, data limitations, food web dynamics, or the cumulative effects of multiple pressures. In practice, the application of biodiversity indicators to meet marine conservation policy and management demands is developing rapidly in the management realm, with a lag before academic publication detailing indicator development. Making best use of biodiversity indicators depends on sharing and synthesizing cutting-edge knowledge and experience. Using lessons learned from the application of biodiversity indicators in policy and management from around the globe, we define the concept of ‘biodiversity indicators,’ explore barriers to their use and potential solutions, and outline strategies for their effective communication to decision-makers.
Chapter
There is an expansive and complex landscape of practitioners, researchers and other generators, owners and providers of knowledge working together in Oceania to achieve conservation successes. This chapter draws on case studies from the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand to demonstrate successful practices that enable knowledge exchange. Evidence-informed and culturally appropriate approaches and models that benefit marine, terrestrial, and freshwater biodiversity conservation across Oceania are discussed. Constraints on informed management, with a particular focus on the challenges in integrating western scientific knowledge, Indigenous, experiential, and local knowledges are explored. Finally, the chapter offers some recommendations for improving knowledge exchange to facilitate better environmental decision-making, research, and practice.
Article
Numerous forests in the eastern United States have been degraded due to past exploitative timber harvesting known as high grading. High graded forest stands may not improve without active rehabilitation and may require targeted silvicultural treatments. This study focuses on high graded mixed-oak (mixed-Quercus spp.) stands and aims to develop a model that can identify past high grading and to determine modifications that may improve forest management recommendations provided by the prominent decision support tool, SILVAH. We present a model that uses standard forest inventory measurements and does not require knowledge of preharvest stand conditions to predict with moderate to high accuracy whether a stand was high graded, which could be particularly useful for nonindustrial private forests. Results indicate that modifications to SILVAH may be necessary to improve its utility for prescribing silvicultural treatments in high graded stands. Study Implications: High graded forest stands are often not readily apparent and likely require specific forest management practices. We present a tool that uses standard forest inventory measurements to predict past high grading, which can be used to inform and prioritize forest management decisions. We also present suggested modifications to the prominent decision support tool, SILVAH, that may improve its ability to prescribe optimal silvicultural treatments for high graded stands. Results from this study provide forestry professionals/landowners working in the mixed-oak forests of the northeastern United States with tools to inform forest management decisions that aim to return degraded stands to healthier and more productive states.
Article
Full-text available
Decision triggers, used in adaptive management frameworks to decide when a specific management action will be implemented, are often informed by monitoring data. The identification and application of decision triggers is highly relevant to endangered fishes migrating through regulated rivers, as examined in the current study. The main goal was to determine whether seasonal patterns of behavioral, physical, and physiological indices of juveniles were related to subsequent smolt-to-adult return (SAR) survival and, if so, to determine whether these indices could be used to guide decisions related to the mitigation strategy of the juvenile fish transportation program in the Federal Columbia River Power System (Pacific Northwest, USA). Hatchery yearling Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Walbaum in Artedi, 1792) were collected over the migration season at 3 dams in the hydrosystem and measured for fork length, wet mass, Fulton’s K (or condition factor), Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) activity (or smoltification index), and % dry mass (or index of energetic reserves and smoltification). We estimated SAR survival from passive integrated transponder-tagged fish representative of our field samples and assessed its relationship to our fish indices, as well as indices of transported vs run-of-river passage and distance of sampling site to ocean. SAR survival was associated to interaction effects between juvenile fish transportation and % dry mass or NKA activity. Transported hatchery Chinook Salmon with dry mass <23% of whole fish wet mass and NKA activity >7 µmol ADP mg protein−1 h−1 showed greater SAR survival than their run-of-river counterparts. Fish with the highest predicted SAR survival had been transported and had fish indices consistent with smolts that were more developed (i.e., lower % dry mass and higher NKA activity). Furthermore, our results on % dry mass provided support for the hypothesis that greater lipid content increases fish buoyancy leading to greater susceptibility to predation. The buoyancy effect is expected to be greatest in hatchery fish. Overall, this study shows that decision triggers based on biological indices of migrating fish are potentially useful tools for in-season management.
Article
Full-text available
The concept of thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) as implemented for the last decade in strategic adaptive management in South African National Parks (SANParks), has proved workable in practice in a number of instances, but in others appears beset by conceptual and practical limitations or barriers. Three common challenges relate to (1) situations where there is uncertainty about whether and where real thresholds exist, (2) whether and how preferences and other social constructs, as opposed to what were seen as objective biophysical variables only, can be used for TPCs and (3) whether it is admissible to adjust TPCs to allow for variations in societal behaviour, in particular rate of management response. All three challenges arise in the face of TPC objectivity implied by the original definition, and in the light of the original view that TPCs be set some distance prior to a presumed ecological threshold. This paper suggests that the three challenges can be partly or largely dealt with by the use of a wider socio-ecological view, rather than seeing TPCs in isolation or as being only biophysical. Also, while detection of abrupt changes is helpful, it makes little practical difference if some TPCs happen to describe linear processes. The very decision to intervene can induce an abrupt change. Once a wider socio-ecological approach is employed, it becomes necessary for the user to specify the particular usage envisaged for the TPC, for instance, whether it is considered a preference and whether that preference is believed in any way to be related to an ecological threshold. In all cases, it is recommended that some form of explicit representation of the socio- ecological view is constructed – we suggest a cause-and-effect diagram (and give an example generated through a thought experiment) which describes presumed relationships in the subsystem of interest. This provides a broader systemic context and a shared understanding, and has implications for considering scenarios and management alternatives. For practical reasons, from the several states and processes in such a subsystem, only a few links can be chosen on which to base particular TPCs. If we have understood the subsystem well enough, these few links, at each of which a TPC is developed, will act as diagnostic points at which we can monitor the performance of the subsystem adequately. A broadened definition of a TPC is presented, supporting this approach.Conservation implications: The concept of thresholds (initially ecological thresholds) has started influencing conservation management practice, a commonly-used formulation for management decision-making being the threshold of potential concern (TPC). Practical TPC usage can often be improved by moving away from its initially pure ecological outlook, rather framing understanding through an interlinked socio-ecological view.
Article
Full-text available
Evaluation of protected area management in Australia has been driven by public sector reporting requirements and concern to improve management performance. This review of the status Of management evaluation in large protected area management agencies reveals considerable variability in effort applied to evaluation, with emphasis being given to context and planning for management and outcomes of management as it affects valued resources. Agencies have largely adopted best practice principles in making assessments, but are not comprehensive in assessing all parts of the management cycle. The current emphasis may serve reporting requirements, but does not provide information and links that can assist in identifying the factors that affect achievement (or otherwise) of desired management outcomes. This constrains capacity to adopt an adaptive management approach to park management based on management effectiveness evaluations.
Article
Full-text available
Making decisions informed by the best-available science is an objective for many organisations managing the environment or natural resources. Yet, available science is still not widely used in environmental policy and practice. We describe a ‘4S’ hierarchy for organising relevant science to inform decisions. This hierarchy has already revolutionised clinical practice. It is beginning to emerge for environmental management, although all four levels need substantial development before environmental decision-makers can reliably and efficiently find the evidence they need. We expose common bypass routes that currently lead to poor or biased representation of scientific knowledge. We argue that the least developed level of the hierarchy is that closest to decision-makers, placing synthesised scientific knowledge into environmental decision support systems.
Article
Full-text available
Decision-making for conservation management often involves evaluating risks in the face of environmental uncertainty. Models support decision-making by (1) synthesizing available knowledge in a systematic, rational and transparent way and (2) providing a platform for exploring and resolving uncertainty about the consequences of management decisions. Despite their benefits, models are still not used in many conservation decision-making contexts. In this article, we provide evidence of common objections to the use of models in environmental decision-making. In response, we present a series of practical solutions for modellers to help improve the effectiveness and relevance of their work in conservation decision-making. Global review. We reviewed scientific and grey literature for evidence of common objections to the use of models in conservation decision-making. We present a set of practical solutions based on theory, empirical evidence and best-practice examples to help modellers substantively address these objections. We recommend using a structured decision-making framework to guide good modelling practice in decision-making and highlight a variety of modelling techniques that can be used to support the process. We emphasize the importance of participatory decision-making to improve the knowledge-base and social acceptance of decisions and to facilitate better conservation outcomes. Improving communication and building trust are key to successfully engaging participants, and we suggest some practical solutions to help modellers develop these skills. If implemented, we believe these practical solutions could help broaden the use of models, forging deeper and more appropriate linkages between science and management for the improvement of conservation decision-making.
Article
Full-text available
The concept of sustainable development from 1980 to the present has evolved into definitions of the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental). The recent economic and financial crisis has helped to newly define economic sustainability. It has brought into focus the economic pillar and cast a question mark over the sustainability of development based on economic progress. This means fully addressing the economic issues on their own merits with no apparent connection to the environmental aspects. Environmental sustainability is correctly defined by focusing on its biogeophysical aspects. This means maintaining or improving the integrity of the Earth's life supporting systems. The concept of sustainable development and its three pillars has evolved from a rather vague and mostly qualitative notion to more precise specifications defined many times over in quantitative terms. Hence the need for a wide array of indicators is very clear. The paper analyses the different approaches and types of indicators developed which are used for the assessment of environmental sustainability. One important aspect here is setting targets and then “measuring” the distance to a target to get the appropriate information on the current state or trend.
Article
Full-text available
Natural resource managers have used natural variability concepts since the early 1960s and are increasingly relying on these concepts to maintain biological diversity, to restore ecosystems that have been severely altered, and as benchmarks for assessing anthropogenic change. Management use of natural variability relies on two concepts: that past conditions and processes provide context and guidance for managing ecological systems today, and that disturbance-driven spatial and temporal variability is a vital attribute of nearly all ecological systems. We review the use of these concepts for managing ecological systems and landscapes. We conclude that natural variability concepts provide a framework for improved un- derstanding of ecological systems and the changes occurring in these systems, as well as for evaluating the consequences of proposed management actions. Understanding the history of ecological systems (their past composition and structure, their spatial and temporal variability, and the principal processes that influenced them) helps managers set goals that are more likely to maintain and protect ecological systems and meet the social values desired for an area. Until we significantly improve our understanding of ecological systems, this knowledge of past ecosystem functioning is also one of the best means for predicting impacts to ecological systems today. These concepts can also be misused. No a priori time period or spatial extent should be used in defining natural variability. Specific goals, site-specific field data, inferences derived from data collected elsewhere, simulation models, and explicitly stated value judg- ment all must drive selection of the relevant time period and spatial extent used in defining natural variability. Natural variability concepts offer an opportunity and a challenge for ecologists to provide relevant information and to collaborate with managers to improve the management of ecological systems.
Article
Full-text available
The realization of conservation goals requires strategies for managing whole landscapes including areas allocated to both production and protection. Reserves alone are not adequate for nature conservation but they are the cornerstone on which regional strategies are built. Reserves have two main roles. They should sample or represent the biodiversity of each region and they should separate this biodiversity from processes that threaten its persistence. Existing reserve systems throughout the world contain a biased sample of biodiversity, usually that of remote places and other areas that are unsuitable for commercial activities. A more systematic approach to locating and designing reserves has been evolving and this approach will need to be implemented if a large proportion of today's biodiversity is to exist in a future of increasing numbers of people and their demands on natural resources.
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has emerged during the past 5 y as an alternative approach to single-species fishery management. To date, policy development has generally outstripped application and implementation. The EBFM approach has been broadly adopted at a policy level within Australia through a variety of instruments including fisheries legislation, environmental legislation, and a national policy on integrated oceans management. The speed of policy adoption has necessitated equally rapid development of scientific and management tools to support practical implementation. We discuss some of the scientific tools that have been developed to meet this need. These tools include extension of the management strategy evaluation (MSE) approach to evaluate broader ecosystem-based fishery management strategies (using the Atlantis modelling framework), development of new approaches to ecological risk assessment (ERA) for evaluating the ecological impacts of fishing, and development of a harvest strategy framework (HSF) and policy that forms the basis for a broader EBFM strategy. The practical application of these tools (MSE, ERA, and HSF) is illustrated for the southern and eastern fisheries of Australia.
Article
Full-text available
There are many barriers to using science to inform conservation policy and practice. Conservation scientists wishing to produce management-relevant science must balance this goal with the imperative of demonstrating novelty and rigor in their science. Decision makers seeking to make evidence-based decisions must balance a desire for knowledge with the need to act despite uncertainty. Generating science that will effectively inform management decisions requires that the production of information (the components of knowledge) be salient (relevant and timely), credible (authoritative, believable, and trusted), and legitimate (developed via a process that considers the values and perspectives of all relevant actors) in the eyes of both researchers and decision makers. We perceive 3 key challenges for those hoping to generate conservation science that achieves all 3 of these information characteristics. First, scientific and management audiences can have contrasting perceptions about the salience of research. Second, the pursuit of scientific credibility can come at the cost of salience and legitimacy in the eyes of decision makers, and, third, different actors can have conflicting views about what constitutes legitimate information. We highlight 4 institutional frameworks that can facilitate science that will inform management: boundary organizations (environmental organizations that span the boundary between science and management), research scientists embedded in resource management agencies, formal links between decision makers and scientists at research-focused institutions, and training programs for conservation professionals. Although these are not the only approaches to generating boundary-spanning science, nor are they mutually exclusive, they provide mechanisms for promoting communication, translation, and mediation across the knowledge–action boundary. We believe that despite the challenges, conservation science should strive to be a boundary science, which both advances scientific understanding and contributes to decision making. Logrando que la Ciencia de la Conservación Trasponga la Frontera Conocimiento-Acción Resumen Hay muchas barreras para utilizar ciencia para informar a la política y práctica de la conservación. Los científicos de la conservación que desean producir ciencia relevante para el manejo deben equilibrar esta meta con el imperativo de demostrar novedad y rigor en su ciencia. Los tomadores de decisiones que buscan que sus decisiones se basen en evidencias deben equilibrar el deseo de conocimientos con la necesidad de actuar a pesar de la incertidumbre. La generación de ciencia que informe efectivamente a las decisiones de manejo requiere que la producción de información (los componentes del conocimiento) sea sobresaliente (relevante y oportuna), creíble (autoritativa, verosímil y confiable) y legítima (desarrollada mediante un proceso que considera los valores y perspectivas de todos los actores relevantes) a la vista tanto de investigadores como de tomadores de decisiones. Percibimos tres retos clave para quienes desean generar ciencia de la conservación que logre estas tres características de la información. Primero, las audiencias científicas y de manejo pueden tener percepciones contrastantes sobre la relevancia de la investigación. Segundo, la credibilidad se puede lograr a costa de la relevancia y legitimidad a la vista de los tomadores de decisiones y tercero, los diferentes actores pueden tener percepciones conflictivas sobre los que constituye información legítima. Resaltamos cuatro marcos institucionales que pueden facilitar que la ciencia informe al manejo: organizaciones de frontera (organizaciones ambientales que trasponen la frontera entre la ciencia y el manejo), investigadores científicos insertados en agencias de manejo de recursos, vínculos formales entre tomadores de decisiones y científicos en instituciones enfocadas a la investigación, y programas de capacitación para profesionales de la conservación. Aunque estos no son los únicos métodos para generar ciencia que traspone fronteras, ni son mutuamente excluyentes, proporcionan mecanismos que promueven la comunicación, traslación y mediación para trasponer la frontera conocimiento-acción. Consideramos que no obstante los retos, la ciencia de la conservación debería pugnar por ser una ciencia de frontera, que incrementa el entendimiento científico y contribuye a la toma de decisiones.
Article
Full-text available
conservation dollars to address this crisis has had a profound influence on the planning methods and conservation strate-gies of governmental and nongovernmental organizations. For example, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Conservation International have pinpointed priority ecoregions and bio-diversity "hotspots," respectively, that represent some of the most significant remaining regions for conserving the world's biological diversity (Olson and Dinerstein 1998, Myers et al. 2000). Both The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Master et al. 1998) and World Wildlife Fund (Abell et al. 2000) have set con-servation priorities at the scale of large watersheds for fresh-water ecosystems in the United States. The National Gap Analysis Program (GAP) of the US Geological Survey's Bio-logical Resources Division is using biological survey data, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS) technology at the state level to identify those native species and ecosystems that are not adequately represented in existing con-servation lands, in other words, the aim of the program is to detect conservation "gaps" (Jennings 2000). Some state governments in the United States are also developing their own biodiversity conservation plans (e. g., Kautz and Cox 2001).
Article
Full-text available
Many different methods of synthesizing and analyzing environmental monitoring data exist. Given the diversity of current environmental monitoring projects, and the large number of scientists and policy-makers involved, there is a critical need for a universal format that both summarizes data sets and indicates any potential need for management action. Control charts, originally developed for industrial applications, represent one way of doing this. Control charts indicate when a system is going ‘out of control’ by plotting through time some measure of a stochastic process with reference to its expected value. Control charts can be constructed for many different types of indicators, whether univariate or multivariate. Control charts are simple to interpret, and can easily be updated whenever additional data become available. The relative risks of Type I (i.e., concluding meaningful change has occurred when actually it has not) and Type II (i.e., concluding meaningful change has not occurred when in fact it has) errors are intuitive and easily adjusted, and one may define a threshold for action at any desired level. Control charts may often be more informative than traditional statistical analyses such as regressions or parameter estimation with confidence intervals. The primary challenge in most situations will be determining a stable or baseline state for the ecological indicator in question.
Article
Full-text available
Failure to act quickly on evidence of rapid population decline has led to the first mammal extinction in Australia in the last 50 years, the Christmas Island Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi). The fate of another iconic species, the migratory Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster), monitored intensively for over 20 years, hangs in the balance. To inform future conservation management and decision making, we investigate the decision process that has led to the plight of both species. Our analysis suggests three globally relevant recommendations for minimizing species extinction worldwide: (1) informed, empowered, and responsive governance and leadership is essential; (2) processes that ensure institutional accountability must be in place, and; (3) decisions must be made whilst there is an opportunity to act. The bottom line is that, unless responsive and accountable institutional processes are in place, decisions will be delayed and extinction will occur.
Article
Full-text available
1. Overabundant wildlife can cause economic and ecological damage. Therefore population control typically seeks to maintain species’ abundance within desired control limits. Efficient control requires targets, methods for estimating population size before and after control, and reliable means of forecasting population size. Demographic stochasticity, environmental variability and model uncertainty complicate these tasks. Monitoring provides critical feedback in the control process, yet examples of integrated monitoring and management are scarce.
Article
Full-text available
2000. Design of operational management strategies for achieving fishery ecosystem objectives. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 57: 731–741. Ecosystem objectives in fisheries management usually flow from high-level national policies or strategies and international agreements. Consequently they are often broadly stated and hence are difficult to incorporate directly in management plans. Predicting the results of any management action is very uncertain because the dynamics of ecosystems are complex and poorly understood. Methods to design and evaluate operational management strategies have advanced considerably in the past decade. These management-strategy-evaluation (MSE) methods rely on simulation testing of the whole management process using performance measures derived from operational objectives. The MSE approach involves selecting (operational) manage-ment objectives, specifying performance measures, specifying alternative management strategies, and evaluating these using simulation. The MSE framework emphasizes the identification and modelling of uncertainties, and propagates these through to their effects on the performance measures. The framework is outlined and illustrated by three ecosystem-related applications: management of benthic habitats and broad fish community composition; by-catch of species of high conservation value; and food-chain interactions and dependencies. Challenges to be overcome before broader ecosystem-related objectives can be fully handled are discussed briefly. 2000 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Key words: ecosystem indicators, ecosystem objectives, fisheries management, man-agement strategy evaluation (MSE), operational management strategies (design and evaluation), uncertainty.
Article
Full-text available
An ecological threshold is the point at which there is an abrupt change in an ecosystem quality, property or phenomenon, or where small changes in an environmental driver produce large responses in the ecosystem. Analysis of thresholds is complicated by nonlinear dynamics and by multiple factor controls that operate at diverse spatial and temporal scales. These complexities have challenged the use and utility of threshold concepts in environmental management despite great concern about preventing dramatic state changes in valued ecosystems, the need for determining critical pollutant loads and the ubiquity of other threshold-based environmental problems. In this paper we define the scope of the thresholds concept in ecological science and discuss methods for identifying and investigating thresholds using a variety of examples from terrestrial and aquatic environments, at ecosystem, landscape and regional scales. We end with a discussion of key research needs in this area.
Article
Full-text available
Since 1995, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has used an adaptive approach to the management of sport harvest of mid-continent Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) in North America. This approach differs from many current approaches to conservation and management in requiring close collaboration between managers and scientists. Key elements of this process are objectives, alternative management actions, models permitting prediction of system responses, and a monitoring program. The iterative process produces optimal management decisions and leads to reduction in uncertainty about response of populations to management. This general approach to management has a number of desirable features and is recommended for use in many other programs of management and conservation.
Article
Full-text available
Expert knowledge is used widely in the science and practice of conservation because of the complexity of problems, relative lack of data, and the imminent nature of many conservation decisions. Expert knowledge is substantive information on a particular topic that is not widely known by others. An expert is someone who holds this knowledge and who is often deferred to in its interpretation. We refer to predictions by experts of what may happen in a particular context as expert judgments. In general, an expert-elicitation approach consists of five steps: deciding how information will be used, determining what to elicit, designing the elicitation process, performing the elicitation, and translating the elicited information into quantitative statements that can be used in a model or directly to make decisions. This last step is known as encoding. Some of the considerations in eliciting expert knowledge include determining how to work with multiple experts and how to combine multiple judgments, minimizing bias in the elicited information, and verifying the accuracy of expert information. We highlight structured elicitation techniques that, if adopted, will improve the accuracy and information content of expert judgment and ensure uncertainty is captured accurately. We suggest four aspects of an expert elicitation exercise be examined to determine its comprehensiveness and effectiveness: study design and context, elicitation design, elicitation method, and elicitation output. Just as the reliability of empirical data depends on the rigor with which it was acquired so too does that of expert knowledge.
Article
Full-text available
Sustainably managing ecosystems is challenging, especially for complex systems such as coral reefs. This study develops critical reference points for sustainable management by using a large empirical dataset on the coral reefs of the western Indian Ocean to investigate associations between levels of target fish biomass (as an indicator of fishing intensity) and eight metrics of ecosystem state. These eight ecological metrics each exhibited specific thresholds along a continuum of fishable biomass ranging from heavily fished sites to old fisheries closures. Three thresholds lay above and five below a hypothesized window of fishable biomass expected to produce a maximum multispecies sustainable yield (B(MMSY)). Evaluating three management systems in nine countries, we found that unregulated fisheries often operate below the B(MMSY), whereas fisheries closures and, less frequently, gear-restricted fisheries were within or above this window. These findings provide tangible management targets for multispecies coral reef fisheries and highlight key tradeoffs required to achieve different fisheries and conservation goals.
Article
Full-text available
We compiled details of over 8000 assessments of protected area management effectiveness across the world and developed a method for analyzing results across diverse assessment methodologies and indicators. Data was compiled and analyzed for over 4000 of these sites. Management of these protected areas varied from weak to effective, with about 40% showing major deficiencies. About 14% of the surveyed areas showed significant deficiencies across many management effectiveness indicators and hence lacked basic requirements to operate effectively. Strongest management factors recorded on average related to establishment of protected areas (legal establishment, design, legislation and boundary marking) and to effectiveness of governance; while the weakest aspects of management included community benefit programs, resourcing (funding reliability and adequacy, staff numbers and facility and equipment maintenance) and management effectiveness evaluation. Estimations of management outcomes, including both environmental values conservation and impact on communities, were positive. We conclude that in spite of inadequate funding and management process, there are indications that protected areas are contributing to biodiversity conservation and community well-being.
Book
This book outlines the creative process of making environmental management decisions using the approach called Structured Decision Making. It is a short introductory guide to this popular form of decision making and is aimed at environmental managers and scientists. This is a distinctly pragmatic label given to ways for helping individuals and groups think through tough multidimensional choices characterized by uncertain science, diverse stakeholders, and difficult tradeoffs. This is the everyday reality of environmental management, yet many important decisions currently are made on an ad hoc basis that lacks a solid value-based foundation, ignores key information, and results in selection of an inferior alternative. Making progress - in a way that is rigorous, inclusive, defensible and transparent - requires combining analytical methods drawn from the decision sciences and applied ecology with deliberative insights from cognitive psychology, facilitation and negotiation. The authors review key methods and discuss case-study examples based in their experiences in communities, boardrooms, and stakeholder meetings. The goal of this book is to lay out a compelling guide that will change how you think about making environmental decisions. © 2012 by R. Gregory, L. Failing, M. Harstone, G. Long, T. McDaniels, and D. Ohlson. All rights reserved.
Article
Threshold concepts can have broad relevance in natural resource management. However, the concept of ecological thresholds has not been widely incorporated or adopted in management goals. This largely stems from the uncertainty revolving around threshold levels and the post hoc analyses that have generally been used to identify them. Natural resource managers have a need for new tools and approaches that will help them assess the existence and detection of conditions that demand management actions. Recognition of additional threshold concepts include: utility thresholds (which are based on human values about ecological systems) and decision thresholds (which reflect management objectives and values and include ecological knowledge about a system) as well as ecological thresholds. All of these concepts provide a framework for considering the use of threshold concepts in natural resource decision making. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014. All rights are reserved.
Chapter
This book outlines the creative process of making environmental management decisions using the approach called Structured Decision Making. It is a short introductory guide to this popular form of decision making and is aimed at environmental managers and scientists. This is a distinctly pragmatic label given to ways for helping individuals and groups think through tough multidimensional choices characterized by uncertain science, diverse stakeholders, and difficult tradeoffs. This is the everyday reality of environmental management, yet many important decisions currently are made on an ad hoc basis that lacks a solid value-based foundation, ignores key information, and results in selection of an inferior alternative. Making progress - in a way that is rigorous, inclusive, defensible and transparent - requires combining analytical methods drawn from the decision sciences and applied ecology with deliberative insights from cognitive psychology, facilitation and negotiation. The authors review key methods and discuss case-study examples based in their experiences in communities, boardrooms, and stakeholder meetings. The goal of this book is to lay out a compelling guide that will change how you think about making environmental decisions. Visit www.wiley.com/go/gregory/sdm to access the figures and tables from the book. © 2012 R. Gregory, L. Failing, M. Harstone, G. Long, T. McDaniels, and D. Ohlson.