• Open Access

Redefining expertise and improving ecological judgment


  • Editor
    Andrew Knight

Mark Burgman, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia. Tel: +613-8344-7151; Fax: +613-9348-1620. E-mail: markab@unimelb.edu.au


Expert judgments are a necessary part of environmental management. Typically, experts are defined by their qualifications, track record, professional standing, and experience. We outline the limitations of conventional definitions of expertise and describe how these requirements can sometimes exclude people with useful knowledge. The frailties and biases in expert judgments can interact with the social status afforded to experts to produce judgments that are both unassailable and wrong. Several approaches may improve the rigor of expert judgments; they include widening the set of experiences and skills involved in deliberations, employing structured elicitation, and making experts more accountable through testing and training. We outline the most serious impediments to the routine deployment of these tools, and suggest protocols that would overcome these hurdles.