Which uncertainty? Using expert elicitation and expected value of information to design an adaptive program

Biological Conservation
By: , and 



Natural resource management is plagued with uncertainty of many kinds, but not all uncertainties are equally important to resolve. The promise of adaptive management is that learning in the short-term will improve management in the long-term; that promise is best kept if the focus of learning is on those uncertainties that most impede achievement of management objectives. In this context, an existing tool of decision analysis, the expected value of perfect information (EVPI), is particularly valuable in identifying the most important uncertainties. Expert elicitation can be used to develop preliminary predictions of management response under a series of hypotheses, as well as prior weights for those hypotheses, and the EVPI can be used to determine how much management could improve if uncertainty was resolved. These methods were applied to management of whooping cranes (Grus americana), an endangered migratory bird that is being reintroduced in several places in North America. The Eastern Migratory Population of whooping cranes had exhibited almost no successful reproduction through 2009. Several dozen hypotheses can be advanced to explain this failure, and many of them lead to very different management responses. An expert panel articulated the hypotheses, provided prior weights for them, developed potential management strategies, and made predictions about the response of the population to each strategy under each hypothesis. Multi-criteria decision analysis identified a preferred strategy in the face of uncertainty, and analysis of the expected value of information identified how informative each strategy could be. These results provide the foundation for design of an adaptive management program.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Which uncertainty? Using expert elicitation and expected value of information to design an adaptive program
Series title Biological Conservation
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.12.020
Volume 144
Issue 4
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Biological Conservation
First page 1214
Last page 1223
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