Artificial intelligence based decision support for trumpeter swan management

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Abstract

The number of trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) breeding in the Tri-State area where Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming come together has declined to just a few hundred pairs. However, these birds are part of the Rocky Mountain Population which additionally has over 3,500 birds breeding in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Yukon Territory. To a large degree, these birds seem to have abandoned traditional migratory pathways in the flyway. Waterfowl managers have been interested in decision support tools that would help them explore simulated management scenarios in their quest towards reaching population recovery and the reestablishment of traditional migratory pathways. I have developed a decision support system to assist biologists with such management, especially related to wetland ecology. Decision support systems use a combination of models, analytical techniques, and information retrieval to help develop and evaluate appropriate alternatives. Swan management is a domain that is ecologically complex, and this complexity is compounded by spatial and temporal issues. As such, swan management is an inherently distributed problem. Therefore, the ecological context for modeling swan movements in response to management actions was built as a multiagent system of interacting intelligent agents that implements a queuing model representing swan migration. These agents accessed ecological knowledge about swans, their habitats, and flyway management principles from three independent expert systems. The agents were autonomous, had some sensory capability, and could respond to changing conditions. A key problem when developing ecological decision support systems is empirically determining that the recommendations provided are valid. Because Rocky Mountain trumpeter swans have been surveyed for a long period of time, I was able to compare simulated distributions provided by the system with actual field observations across 20 areas for the period 1988-2000. Applying the Matched Pairs Multivariate Permutation Test as a statistical tool was a new approach for comparing flyway distributions of waterfowl over time that seemed to work well. Based on this approach, the empirical evidence that I gathered led me to conclude that the base queuing model does accurately simulate swan distributions in the flyway. The system was insensitive to almost all model parameters tested. That remains perplexing, but might result from the base queuing model, itself, being particularly effective at representing the actual ecological diversity in the world of Rocky Mountain trumpeter swans, both spatial and temporally.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Thesis
Publication Subtype Thesis
Title Artificial intelligence based decision support for trumpeter swan management
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher Colorado State University
Publisher location Fort Collins, CO
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description x, 183 p.
First page ii
Last page 183
Country United States
State Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N