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Tuesday, January 26 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Benefits and Limitations of Using Decision Analytic Tools To Assess Uncertainty and Prioritize Landscape Conservation Cooperative Information Needs

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AUTHORS: Max Post van der Burg*, U.S. Geological Survey; Catherine Cullinane Thomas, U.S. Geological Survey; Richard D. Nelson, Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative

ABSTRACT: The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are a network of partnerships throughout North America that are tasked with integrating science and management to support more effective delivery of conservation at a landscape scale. Many LCCs have begun the process of determining how to best support conservation decisions made by individual partners. One way that LCCs have opted to support these decisions is by funding research that will provide information for improved decision making. To ensure that funding goes to the highest priority research projects, LCCs would benefit from determining what uncertainties are most limiting in partner decisions. Here, we demonstrate the use of decision analytic tools for structuring and assessing which uncertainties are most important, which can provide a guide for where research funding would be most beneficial. We describe two case studies in which these tools were used to quantitatively assess the relative importance of information for decisions made by partners in the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC. The results of the case studies point toward a few valuable lessons in terms of using these tools with LCCs. Decision analytic tools tend to help shift focus away from research oriented discussions and toward discussions about how information is used in making better decisions. However, many technical experts do not have enough knowledge about decision making contexts to fully inform the latter type of discussion. When assessed in the right decision context, however, decision analyses can point out where uncertainties actually affect the optimal choice of decisions and where they do not. This helps technical experts understand that not all research is valuable in improving decision making. Our results suggest that decision analytic tools may be more useful for LCCs as way of developing integrated objectives for coordinating partner decisions across the landscape, rather than simply ranking research priorities.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Ambassador W