Making robust decisions for conservation with restricted money and knowledge
Article first published online: 26 SEP 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 British Ecological Society
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 45, Issue 6, pages 1630–1638, December 2008
How to Cite
McDonald-Madden, E., Baxter, P. W.J. and Possingham, H. P. (2008), Making robust decisions for conservation with restricted money and knowledge. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45: 1630–1638. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01553.x
- Issue published online: 21 OCT 2008
- Article first published online: 26 SEP 2008
- Received 12 February 2008; accepted 4 August 2008; Handling Editor: Julia Jones
- conservation funding;
- decision theory;
- model uncertainty;
- resource allocation;
- Sumatran tiger;
- 1In conservation decision-making, we operate within the confines of limited funding. Furthermore, we often assume particular relationships between management impact and our investment in management. The structure of these relationships, however, is rarely known with certainty – there is model uncertainty. We investigate how these two fundamentally limiting factors in conservation management, money and knowledge, impact optimal decision-making.
- 2We use information-gap decision theory to find strategies for maximizing the number of extant subpopulations of a threatened species that are most immune to failure due to model uncertainty. We thus find a robust framework for exploring optimal decision-making.
- 3The performance of every strategy decreases as model uncertainty increases.
- 4The strategy most robust to model uncertainty depends not only on what performance is perceived to be acceptable but also on available funding and the time horizon over which extinction is considered.
- 5Synthesis and applications. We investigate the impact of model uncertainty on robust decision-making in conservation and how this is affected by available conservation funding. We show that subpopulation triage can be a natural consequence of robust decision-making. We highlight the need for managers to consider triage not as merely giving up, but as a tool for ensuring species persistence in light of the urgency of most conservation requirements, uncertainty and the poor state of conservation funding. We illustrate this theory by a specific application to allocation of funding to reduce poaching impact on the Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae in Kerinci Seblat National Park.