Optimal decision-making to control ecological systems

The management of ecological systems is plagued by uncertainty. This uncertainty impacts our ability to manage effectively and is a major impediment to endangered species recovery, control of pest species and disease suppression. Managers of ecological systems have limited time and money to control threats and are generally uncertain about the effectiveness of management and the likelihood of ecological responses. Faced with limited resources and uncertainty, managers must decide which actions have the highest probability of achieving species objectives over time and space. However, deciding where and when to invest limited resources in an uncertain, partially controllable system is a difficult problem. In this seminar, I will give an overview of some planning techniques that can be used to optimise the management of species over time and account for various kinds of uncertainty. While my talk will draw on examples from conservation science, the techniques I present will be applicable to a broad range of disciplines that seek to control stochastic populations over time and space.