In conservation biology it is necessary to make management decisions for endangered and threatened species under severe uncertainty. Failure to acknowledge and treat uncertainty can lead to poor decisions. To illustrate the importance of considering uncertainty, we reanalyze a decision problem for the Sumatran rhino, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis , using information-gap theory to propagate uncertainties and to rank management options. Rather than requiring information about the extent of parameter uncertainty at the outset, information-gap theory addresses the question of how much uncertainty can be tolerated before our decision would change. It assesses the robustness of decisions in the face of severe uncertainty. We show that different management decisions may result when uncertainty in utilities and probabilities are considered in decision-making problems. We highlight the importance of a full assessment of uncertainty in conservation management decisions to avoid, as much as possible, undesirable outcomes.
Ecological Applications – Ecological Society of America
Published: Aug 1, 2005
Keywords: conservation management ; decision theory ; Dicerorhinus sumatrensis ; information gap ; robustness of decisions ; Sumatran rhino ; uncertainty
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