Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Conservation policies 'impaired by over-confident predictions,' expert argues

Date:
April 18, 2011
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Inappropriate conservation policies may be implemented as a result of scientists failing to sufficiently acknowledge the uncertainty of their models, according to a UK researcher.

Inappropriate conservation policies may be implemented as a result of scientists failing to sufficiently acknowledge the uncertainty of their models, according to Dr Colin Beale, of the University of York.

Speaking at a Discussion Meeting on Predictive Ecology at the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, this week, Dr Beale will discuss how species distribution models, which are often used as the basis for conservation planning, make predictions which are subject to significant uncertainty, the degree and source of which is often unrecognised.

Dr Beale said: "We need to reassess the way that we make conservation choices. Using species distribution models whose uncertainty is unrepresented or underestimated, we may adopt an expensive, precautionary approach which is neither efficient nor effective.

"Painful as it may be, we have finite conservation resources and, if we are to be confident of cost-effective outcomes, we should sometimes choose to allocate them to species and scenarios where we have a high level of certainty in our knowledge, rather than investing in rare species that we know little about."

Species distribution models (SDMs) describe the spatial and temporal distribution of particular species, which is useful when devising conservation plans, particularly when considering factors such as disease distribution, climate change, invasive species and habitat fragmentation. However, uncertainties in observed distributions, alongside uncertainty in the environmental factors that may affect them and uncertainty in models used to predict the future environment (such as climate change models), can all make these SDMs less certain and often these uncertainties are overlooked or unacknowledged. Dr Beale's presentation will discuss in further depth these uncertainties and how they could be better estimated and, in some cases, reduced.

"When one considers a species such as the Scottish crossbill, the only bird species unique to the UK, one can see the results of a failing to recognise the issue of uncertainty in our conservation planning," said Dr Beale.

"This is a species so rare and difficult to identify in the field that our prediction of its future distribution as the climate changes is highly uncertain, yet applying a traditional precautionary approach would suggest an extremely costly and complex conservation plan that, for in reality, may have little or no impact on its chances of survival. Perhaps these conservation funds could be more effectively spent on plans for species and systems that we understand better, such as implementing well understood countryside management strategies."

The Royal Society Discussion Meeting, Predictive ecology: systems approaches, is running over the 18 and 19 April at the Royal Society's headquarters in London. The meeting will look at the importance of using prediction in ecology as the world changes and robust predictions of the ecological impacts of these changes are needed. The meeting will explore the different modelling approaches for ecological systems and the strengths and limitations of systems approaches.

The full discussion meeting programme can be downloaded here: http://royalsociety.org/events/predictive-ecology/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of York. "Conservation policies 'impaired by over-confident predictions,' expert argues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418084003.htm>.
University of York. (2011, April 18). Conservation policies 'impaired by over-confident predictions,' expert argues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418084003.htm
University of York. "Conservation policies 'impaired by over-confident predictions,' expert argues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418084003.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins