Application of Threshold Concepts in Natural Resource Decision Making

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Identifying Objectives and Alternative Actions to Frame a Decision Problem

  • Michael C. RungeAffiliated withUSGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Email author 
  • , Terry WalsheAffiliated withAustralian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne

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In this chapter, we discuss the role of objectives and alternative actions in framing a natural resource management decision problem, with particular attention to thresholds. We outline a number of considerations in developing objectives and measurable attributes, including when utility thresholds may be needed to express the decision-makers’ values. We also discuss the development of a set of alternative actions, and how these might give rise to decision thresholds, particularly when the predictive models contain ecological thresholds. Framing of a decision problem plays a central role in decision analysis because it helps determine the needs for a predictive ecological model, the type of solution method required, and the value and structure of a monitoring system.


Utility threshold Decision threshold Ecological threshold Decision analysis Means objectives