Abstract: Conservation decisions often need to be made rapidly, and under considerable uncertainty. Although managers may want to delay decisions until more information can be gathered, they can often afford neither the money nor the time required. Decision theory offers a set of tools that can offer reliable support in these circumstances by incorporating the sources of uncertainty, and by faithfully propagating that uncertainty through to the solutions. However, by thoughtfully analysing the structure of the decision problem, it is possible to identify elements of the uncertainty that will have little or no impact on the decision. Such insights can drastically simplify the conservation problem, and mean that managers can direct critical time and resources towards more important parts of the problem. I will outline three case studies where careful analysis allows managers to side-step difficult elements of a conservation problem, resulting in simpler and more confident decisions.
Biography: Michael is a senior research fellow at the School of Botany in the University of Melbourne, and a Chief Investigator on the ARC Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions and the National Environmental Research Hub on Environmental Decisions. His research combines mathematical modelling, spatial ecology and economics to investigate conservation decision-making under high levels of uncertainty, and under strong budgetary constraints. He received his doctorate from the department of mathematics at UQ in 2008, for research on spatial conservation prioritisation. In 2009 he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Melbourne in the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis group, before undertaking an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2013) on invasive species eradications. He is currently a DECRA fellow, on a project involving the socio-economic implications of coral reef fish larval dispersal patterns.