Wilson HB, JR Rhodes and HP Possingham (2015) Two additional principles for determining which species to monitor. ECOLOGY 96(11)

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Monitoring to detect population declines is widespread, but also costly. There is, consequently, a need to optimize monitoring to maximize cost-effectiveness. Here we develop a quantitative decision analysis framework for how to optimally allocate resources for monitoring among species. By keeping the framework simple, we analytically establish two new principles about which species are optimal to monitor for detecting declines: (1) those that lie on the boundary between species being allocated resources for conservation action and species that are not and (2) those with the greatest uncertainty in whether they are declining. These two principles are in addition to other factors that are also important in monitoring decisions, such as complementarity. We demonstrate the efficacy of these principles when other factors are not present, and show how the two principles can be combined. This analysis demonstrates that the most cost-effective species to monitor are ones where the information gained from monitoring is most likely to change the allocation of funds for action, not necessarily the most vulnerable or endangered. We suggest these results are general and apply to all ecological monitoring, not just of biological species: monitoring and information are only valuable when they are likely to change how people act.