New publication: Improving risk assessments in conservation ecology

By Kotaro Ono*, Øystein Langangen*, and Nils Chr. Stenseth* in Nature Communications. Open Access.

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Conservation efforts and management decisions on the living environment of our planet often rely on the results from statistical models. Yet, these models are imperfect and quantification of risk associated with the estimate of management-relevant quantities becomes crucial in providing robust advice. Here we demonstrate that estimates of risk themselves could be substantially biased but by combining data fitting with an extensive simulation–estimation procedure, one can back-calculate the correct values. We apply the method to 627 time series of population abundance across four taxa using the Gompertz state-space model as an example. We find that the risk of large bias in population status estimate increases with the species’ growth rate, population variability, weaker density dependence, and shorter time series, across taxa. We urge scientists dealing with conservation and management to adopt a similar approach to ensure a more accurate estimate of risk measures and contribute towards a precautionary approach to management.

Nature Communications
Volume 10, Article number: 2836
Published: 27 June 2019
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* Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

§ Centre for Coastal Research (CCR), University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway

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Published Aug. 8, 2019 11:00 AM - Last modified Aug. 9, 2019 11:22 AM