Abstract: Conservation involves multiple actors. There are numerous conservation organisations, and their primary job is to mitigate or halt the degrading activities of the myriad of individuals, companies and industries that undermine conservation outcomes. These actors are all making strategic decisions, and are changing their behaviour in response to, or anticipation of, each other’s actions. By contrast, conservation theory has paid relatively little attention to these dynamics and interactions, and instead has made relatively simple assumptions about the behaviour of other actors. The theory of interactive decision making – game theory – can offer useful insights into conservation dynamics, and frame critiques of optimal organisation behaviour and structure. It can also help to refocus attention onto under-emphasised but critical aspects of conservation theory. I use two recent conservation applications of game theory to highlight the unrealised flexibility and potential of game theoretic analyses in conservation theory.
Biography: Michael Bode is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s School of Botany. After an undergraduate degree at JCU, he did his PhD in the University of Queensland’s Mathematics Department, supervised by Hugh Possingham. He worked as an ARC Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne, and is currently a DECRA fellow in the same department, working as an investigator on the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, and the NERP Environmental Decisions Hub. Michael’s research has focused on applications of decision theory to problems in conservation planning and applied ecology. He is also interested in the large-scale structure of coral reef fish larval dispersal networks, and the effect that larval dispersal patterns have on the dynamics of reef fish populations and communities.