Post provided by Victoria Hemming and Mark Burgman
New technologies provide ecologists with unprecedented means for informing predictions and decisions under uncertainty. From drones and apps that capture data faster and cheaper than ever before, to new methods for modelling, mapping and sharing data.
But what do you do when you don’t have data (or the data you have is incomplete or uninformative), but decisions need to be made?
In ecology, decisions often need to be made with imperfect or incomplete data. In these circumstances, expert judgement is relied upon routinely. Some examples include threatened species listing decisions, weighing up the cost and benefit of management actions, and environmental impact assessments.
We use experts to answer questions such as:
- How many koalas are there in Australia?
- What will the density of Crown of Thorns Starfish be on coral reefs?
- What will happen if we implement Management Action A versus Management Action B
- Will seagrass recover to its current extent after a port development?
These are questions about facts in the form of quantities and probabilities for which we simply can’t collect the data. Continue reading