Sunday, October 30, 2016

the McDonald-Madden lab

               solving compleX Environmental Decisions


x-ed research

A significant proportion of global environmental funds are directed to monitoring the outcomes of conservation endeavours. Rarely is it questioned whether these funds would be better directed to additional management activities. It is crucial if we are to make wise conservation investments that we consider the value of information from monitoring and research to improving our conservation decisions.

The first step to effective conservation management is to define the best action to reach an objective. We are applying novel approaches from applied mathematics to answer this question of what to do, when to do it and where to implement it to achieve conservation goals.

Optimal learning, adaptive management and climate adaptation

We have helped realise adaptive managements potential in conservation by producing some of the first quantitative work optimizing its implementation for conserving biodiversity. We have shown what actions to implement to both improve knowledge of the emerging Facial Tumour Disease in Tasmanian devils whilst maximising the persistence of this iconic species.

Conservation decision-making is fraught with risk and uncertainty, and it is important that these are incorporated into decision tools. We have used Info-gap decision theory, a technique from engineering novel to conservation, to incorporate uncertainty into decisions for threatened species management and showed for the first time that uncertainty may lead to conservation triage. Cyclones and coral bleaching are risks to coral reefs largely beyond our control.