Why do we map threats? Linking threat mapping with actions to make better conservation decisions

Authors

  • Vivitskaia JD Tulloch,

    Corresponding author
    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. these authors contributed equally to this work
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ayesha IT Tulloch,

    1. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    3. these authors contributed equally to this work
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Piero Visconti,

    1. Computational Science Laboratory, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Benjamin S Halpern,

    1. Imperial College London, Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park, Berkshire, UK
    2. Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California–Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
    3. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • James EM Watson,

    1. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. Global Conservation Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Megan C Evans,

    1. Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Nancy A Auerbach,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Megan Barnes,

    1. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Maria Beger,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Iadine Chadès,

    1. CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sylvaine Giakoumi,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Ag Kosmos, Greece
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Eve McDonald-Madden,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    3. CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Nicholas J Murray,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane, Australia
    3. Centre for Ecosystem Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jeremy Ringma,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hugh P Possingham

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    2. Imperial College London, Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park, Berkshire, UK
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Spatial representations of threatening processes – “threat maps” – can identify where biodiversity is at risk, and are often used to identify priority locations for conservation. In doing so, decision makers are prone to making errors, either by assuming that the level of threat dictates spatial priorities for action or by relying primarily on the location of mapped threats to choose possible actions. We show that threat mapping can be a useful tool when incorporated within a transparent and repeatable structured decision-making (SDM) process. SDM ensures transparent and defendable conservation decisions by linking objectives to biodiversity outcomes, and by considering constraints, consequences of actions, and uncertainty. If used to make conservation decisions, threat maps are best developed with an understanding of how species respond to actions that mitigate threats. This approach will ensure that conservation actions are prioritized where they are most cost-effective or have the greatest impact, rather than where threat levels are highest.

Ancillary