Value of information and monitoring in conservation biology
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In this paper we consider uses of value of information studies in conservation biology. It is a common assumption that more and better quality data will lead to better conservation management decisions. Indeed, this assumption lies behind, and motivates, a great deal of current work in conservation biology. Of course, more data can lead to better decisions in some cases but decision-theoretic models of the value of information show that this need not always be the case: sometimes the cost of data collection is too high. While such value of information studies are well known in economics and decision theory circles, their applications in conservation biology are relatively new. These studies are a valuable tool for conservation management, and we outline some of the potential applications. We also offer some advice about, and problems with, implementing value of information studies in conservation settings.
KeywordsDecision theory Value of information Game theory Conservation decisions Monitoring
I am indebted to Jack Justus, Mick McCarthy, Maureen O’Malley, Kirsten Parris, Hugh Possingham, Helen Regan, and Luke Russell for valuable discussions on the topic of this paper and to two anonymous referees for this journal for several very constructive suggestions. I am also indebted to audiences at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway, the 2013 Munich-Sydney-Tilburg Models and Decisions conference at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany and the 2013 Society for Risk Analysis (Australia and New Zealand) conference at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Work on this paper was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship Grant (Grant number: FT110100909).
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