We have led a value of information project to help managers of Moira Grass determine which information should be collected as a priority. The team worked very closely with domain experts to design and complete this project. Our findings indicate that management strategies targeting grazing (61% increase in total extent; 46% increase in Moira grass cover; 42% increase in thatch depth) and flood duration and depth are most likely to improve the restoration of Moira grass at the Barmah Forest (See Executive Summary below for more information).
Nicol, Sam; Stratford, Danial; Joehnk, Klaus; Chades, Iadine. Prioritising the value of information for the management of Moira grass at Barmah forest. Brisbane: CSIRO; 2017. csiro:EP17815. (CSIRO PDF report)
We have learned a lot during this project on the strengths and weaknesses of Value of Information. We will aim to publish these lessons learned in the academic literature.
Barmah Forest is a Ramsar listed wetland complex in the Murray–Darling Basin of Australia. Barmah Forest supports the largest area of Moira grass (Pseudoraphis spinescens) plains in the Murray-Darling Basin and is amongst the most southerly distribution of the species in Australia.
Feral horse (Barmah, 2016)
The plains are recognised as part of the Ramsar ecological character description of the forest. Reduction in the area of Moira grass plains has been one of the most significant long-term ecological changes within the forest. The causes of decline are uncertain Read more
In Beyer et al (Ecological Modelling, 2016), Yann and co-authors propose an efficient integer linear program (ILP) to solve conservation planning problems for MARXAN and MARXAN with zones.
Because conservation planning problems are not linear, an accurate linearization was required to get an efficient ILP model, i.e. running in a good computing time. Yann’s contribution was to propose an efficient linearization, and to clarify the advantages of using ILP compared to the current heuristic used in MARXAN (simulated annealing). ILP is an exact method so it always provides optimal solutions. Moreover, ILP allows to easily integrate multiple objectives and to deal with unknown instances by using robust approaches.
In conservation, ILP has been avoided for the past decades because of long computational running times. However, recent versions of linear programming software solutions include new algorithms such as new branch-and-cuts / dynamic search processes, reducing the computation time required to solve ILP problems by millions compared to the first versions.
The results are impressive and you should definitely have a look if your conservation planning problem takes too long to solve or you are uncertain about the quality of the solutions! Congratulations Yann and team!
Hawthorne L. Beyer, Yann Dujardin, Matthew E. Watts, Hugh P. Possingham, Solving conservation planning problems with integer linear programming, Ecological Modelling, Volume 328, 24 May 2016, Pages 14-22, ISSN 0304-3800, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2016.02.005.
We are very excited to to announce our new report ‘Priority Threat Management for Imperilled Species of the Queensland Brigalow Belt’ (PDF) (see The Conversation article, CSIRO website).
Ponce Reyes, R., Firn, J., Nicol, S., Chadès, I., Stratford, D.S., Martin, T.G., Whitten, S., Carwardine, J. (2016) Priority Threat Management for Imperilled Species of the Queensland Brigalow Belt CSIRO, Brisbane.
Perhaps the most impactful decision support tool we have developed to date, Priority Threat Management (PTM) is a team adventure where a dedicated bunch of interdisciplinary scientists and kick ass facilitator work alongside stakeholders to establish the best strategies to manage threats to biodiversity. Stay tuned as we have grand plans to improve PTM and make it available to the entire world.
I was asked to provide a list of reference on priority threat management, sharing it with you here:
Freely accessible material:
- Ponce Reyes, R., Firn, J., Nicol, S., Chadès, I., Stratford, D.S., Martin, T.G., Whitten, S., Carwardine, J. (2016) Priority Threat
Management for Imperilled Species of the Queensland Brigalow Belt CSIRO, Brisbane. (PDF) (see The Conversation article, CSIRO website)
- Firn, J., Maggini, R., Chadès, I., Nicol, S., Walters, B., Reeson, A., Martin, T. G., Possingham, H. P., Pichancourt, J.-B., Ponce-Reyes, R. and Carwardine, J. (2015), Priority threat management of invasive animals to protect biodiversity: Lake Eyre Basin ( see the Conversation article, CSIRO website with PDFs)
- Carwardine J., Nicol S., van Leeuwen S.,Walters B., Firn J., Reeson A., Martin T.G., Chades I. (2014) Priority threat management for Pilbara species of conservation significance, CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences, Brisbane. (PDF) (see The Conversation article, blog post, CSIRO website)
- Firn, J., Martin, T.G., Walters, B., Hayes, J.,Nicol, S., Chadès, I., and Carwardine, J. (2013) Priority Threat Management of invasive plants species in the Lake Eyre Basin. CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Working Paper No. 17 (QUT and CSIRO) (PDF) (blog post)
- Carwardine, J., O’Connor, T., Legge, S., Mackey, B., Possingham, H.P., Martin, T.G. (2011) Priority threat management to protect Kimberley wildlife CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Brisbane. (PDF)
Journal paper (PDF available upon request):
- Firn, J., Maggini, R., Chadès, I., Nicol, S., Walters, B., Reeson, A., Martin, T. G., Possingham, H. P., Pichancourt, J.-B., Ponce-Reyes, R. and Carwardine, J. (2015), Priority threat management of invasive animals to protect biodiversity under climate change. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13034
- Firn, J., Martin, T. G., Chadès, I., Walters, B., Hayes, J., Nicol, S., Carwardine, J. (2015), Priority threat management of non-native plants to maintain ecosystem integrity across heterogeneous landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12500
- Chadés, I., Nicol, S., van Leeuwen, S., Walters, B., Firn, J., Reeson, A., Martin, T. G. and Carwardine, J. (2015), Benefits of integrating complementarity into priority threat management. Conservation Biology, 29: 525–536. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12413
- Carwardine, J., O’Connor, T., Legge, S., Mackey, B., Possingham, H.P., Martin, T.G. (2012). Prioritizing threat management for biodiversity conservation. Conservation Letters. 5:196–204 doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2012.00228.x
Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together by restoring forests? Our recent published papers investigate how and where carbon farming in Australia can be targeted to sequester carbon and benefit wildlife and threatened ecosystems. This work is summarised by an article in The Conversation – here it is!
Farming carbon can be a win for wildlife, if the price is right
Megan Evans, Australian National University; Anna Renwick, The University of Queensland; Josie Carwardine, CSIRO, and Tara Martin, CSIRO
Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are two of the greatest environmental issues of our time. Is it possible to address both of those problems at once?
In Australia, farmers and landholders will this week be able to apply for payments through the Federal government’s A$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund. Bidders can request funding for projects that reduce emissions using agreed methods, which include approaches relevant to the transport, waste and mining sectors, as well as the land sector: for example, by managing or restoring forests.
Forests hold carbon in vegetation and soils and provide important habitat for native wildlife. Restoring forests in areas where they have been cleared in the past could be good for the climate, good for biodiversity, and generate additional income for landholders.
How well the Emissions Reduction Fund can achieve these benefits will depend on three things: the right approach, the right price, and the right location.
… improve the protein uptake and therefore the health of millions of people globally;
…reduce the land clearing and use of pesticides while obtaining economic profit;
…reduce the carbon dioxide an methane emission
In our new paper:Exploiting a pest insect species Sphenarium purpurascens for human consumption: ecological, social, and economic repercussions published in the first issue of the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed we developed a model of sustainable exploitation for pest insect species and explore the potential benefits to humans in different areas, like health/nutrition, conservation, economy and even climate change!
Please contact me if you would like a copy of the paper!
The picture below is by Rene Cerritos the lead author of this paper.
by Rene Cerritos
I was fortunate to be a co-author on the paper recently published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment led by Viv and Ayesha Tulloch, “Why do we map threats? Linking threat mapping with actions to make better conservation decisions.” (see media release PDF).
This is a great thinking piece about why we should probably not use threat maps “as is” to inform conservation decisions and how threat maps should be included as part of the decision process. I would recommend reading this paper if you are new to structured decision making and would like an easy read. The authors have done a fantastic job at explaining the risk of not following a transparent decision making process.
As a side note, our priority threat management work in the Pilbara was highlighted as a good example of making transparent decisions (No doubts they are other good examples in the literature!). It’s always a privilege to be acknowledged by our peers, it’s even better when these are esteemed close collaborators. Thanks for your support!
Vivitskaia JD Tulloch, Ayesha IT Tulloch, Piero Visconti, Benjamin S Halpern, James EM Watson, Megan C Evans, Nancy A Auerbach, Megan Barnes, Maria Beger, Iadine Chadès, Sylvaine Giakoumi, Eve McDonald-Madden, Nicholas J Murray, Jeremy Ringma, and Hugh P Possingham 2015. Why do we map threats? Linking threat mapping with actions to make better conservation decisions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13: 91–99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/140022
Our manuscript on how complementarity can help saving more species per dollar spent is available online. If you are interested in cost-effectiveness analysis, PPP, priority threat management, expert elicitations, or the Pilbara, have a look:
Chades, I., Nicol, S., van Leeuwen, S., Walters, B., Firn, J., Reeson, A., Martin, T. G. . and Carwardine, J. (2014), Benefits of integrating complementarity into priority threat management. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12413 (abstract) (request PDF)
This paper presents the science behind our beautiful Pilbara report.
Photo: Northern Quoll at Red Hill Homestead. Credit: Leanne Corker, Red Hill Station.
Conservation decision tools based on cost-effectiveness analysis are used to assess threat management strategies for improving species persistence. These approaches rank alternative strategies by their benefit to cost ratio but may fail to identify the optimal sets of strategies to implement under limited budgets because they do not account for redundancies. We devised a multiobjective optimization approach in which the complementarity principle is applied to identify the sets of threat management strategies that protect the most species for any budget. We used our approach to prioritize threat management strategies for 53 species of conservation concern in the Pilbara, Australia. We followed a structured elicitation approach to collect information on the benefits and costs of implementing 17 different conservation strategies during a 3-day workshop with 49 stakeholders and experts in the biodiversity, conservation, and management of the Pilbara. We compared the performance of our complementarity priority threat management approach with a current cost-effectiveness ranking approach. A complementary set of 3 strategies: domestic herbivore management, fire management and research, and sanctuaries provided all species with >50% chance of persistence for $4.7 million/year over 20 years. Achieving the same result cost almost twice as much ($9.71 million/year) when strategies were selected by their cost-effectiveness ranks alone. Our results show that complementarity of management benefits has the potential to double the impact of priority threat management approaches.
If you are interested in finding the best decisions over time to save or eradicate the cutest species, then you are probably interested in using Stochastic Dynamic Programming (SDP) or its mathematical model Markov Decision Process (MDP). If you have a burning problem ready to be solved but not sure how to, then good news we have released the MDPToolbox (ver. 4) in R, Matlab, Octave and Scilab. Please spread the word, the toolbox is free! Thanks to Ecography, you can now support our efforts by citing our paper:
Chadès, I., Chapron, G., Cros, M.-J., Garcia, F. and Sabbadin, R. (2014), MDPtoolbox: a multi-platform toolbox to solve stochastic dynamic programming problems. Ecography. doi: 10.1111/ecog.00888
To download the toolbox: http://www7.inra.fr/mia/T/MDPtoolbox/
If you are still unsure about SDP, try: Marescot, L., G. Chapron, I. Chadès, P. Fackler, C. Duchamp, E. Marboutin, and O. Gimenez. 2013. Complex decisions made simple: a primer on stochastic dynamic programming. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4:872-884.
We are pleased to announce the release of our report on ‘Prioritising threat management for Pilbara species of conservation significance’ (PDF, 10Mo)(The Conversation). This was a very rewarding collaborative project with scientists from CSIRO, QUT, UQ, and WA Dept Parks and Wildlife, with input from 49 experts across land management, policy, industrial, agricultural, indigenous and academic sectors, and was funded by Atlas Iron through the Dept of Environment Pilbara Taskforce.
The work comes at an important time in the Pilbara’s history and we hopeful that it will have a positive impact.
We have a decision point article that just came out this month! A great opportunity to communicate on how we can use complementarity between species to improve our monitoring efficiency, and of course remain cost-effective. In Tulloch et al (2013), we used network theory and a lot of ecology to find the best way of modelling and solving this problem. In the end, we were very pleased to show that it is possible to increase your monitoring power by selecting the most complementary species and also reducing the cost. A win-win situation that is rarely available in conservation. Read more
Do you need to find the best decisions to maximize your chances of protecting a threatened species today but also in the future? Yes? Then you might be interested by our primer on stochastic dynamic programming (SDP). Stochastic Dynamic Programming (SDP) is an essential tool in conservation biology and natural resources management.
Marescot L., Chapron G., Chadès I., Fackler P., Duchamp C., Marboutin E. & Gimenez O. (2013). Complex decisions made simple: a primer on stochastic dynamic programming. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4, 872-884.
Not all ducks are the same. Some like shallow water for dabbling, others like the deep stuff for diving, and some like something in-between. So how do you manage a wetland wildlife refuge to maintain the best mix of all three options? And what happens if the climate changes the amount of water that you have to work with? Those are the questions that we answered in our latest paper that has just come out in Climatic Change: Optimal water depth management on river-fed National Wildlife Refuges in a changing climate. Read more
Our paper on Biodiverse planting for carbon and biodiversity on Indigenous land has just been published in PLoS one (get the PDF).
Renwick, A. R., Robinson, C. J., Martin, T. G., May, T., Polglase, P., Possingham, H. P., & Carwardine, J. (2014). Biodiverse Planting for Carbon and Biodiversity on Indigenous Land. PloS one, 9(3), e91281
In this paper we explored three simple and cost-effective geographical measures to maximise genetic and phenotypic variation in fragmented populations when setting conservation priorities.We were interested in finding simple surrogates because limited financial resources usually constrain the allocation of funds to only a subset of threatened species’ populations. We tested our surrogates on two species of birds with differing genetic population structure (Zosterops flavifrons and Z. lateralis) in the Vanuatu archipelago.
for more information please contact me: email@example.com
Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle (CSIRO postdoc in the team) worked in collaboration with the University of Queensland, Griffith University and the Queensland Government, to better understand the combined effects of climate change and land-use change on freshwater biodiversity. Read more
What’s up with wildflowers in the Wheatbelt? Novel plant communities in agricultural landscapes – By our very own John Dwyer @MayfieldLabUQ Read more
This week Rocio Ponce presents her last paper published in Div & Dist. Well done! This research quantifies how climate and land use change, as major threats to biodiversity affect species persistence in Mexican cloud forests. Read more
This week Jennifer Firn is telling us about our Lake Eyre Basin threat prioritisation project outcome. Good job team (Press release)! Read more
Nicol S., Roach J., Griffith B. (2013). Spatial heterogeneity in statistical power to detect changes in lake area in Alaskan National Wildlife Refuges. Landscape Ecology 28:507-517.
How well can we detect ecological change? It’s a good question— in the media we often hear about how the climate is changing, but how do we measure change, and does the amount of change that you detect depend on where and how long you look for it? It turns out that measuring change is pretty hard, and that it’s possible to get wildly different answers to the question “is the environment changing?” Read more