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Impediments to the Success of Management Actions for Species Recovery

Chooi Fei Ng1,2,3*, Hugh P. Possingham1,2,3,4,5, Clive A. McAlpine3,6, Deidre ´ L. de Villiers7, Harriet J. Preece7, Jonathan R. Rhodes2,3,6

1School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia,

2Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia,

3National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Hub, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia,

4School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia,

5Imperial College London, Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom,

6School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia,

7Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

ABSTRACT

Finding cost-effective management strategies to recover species declining due to multiple threats is challenging, especially when there are limited resources. Recent studies offer insights into how costs and threats can influence the best choice of management actions. However, when implementing management actions in the real-world, a range of impediments to management success often exist that can be driven by social, technological and land-use factors. These impediments may limit the extent to which we can achieve recovery objectives and influence the optimal choice of management actions. Nonetheless, the implications of these impediments are not well understood, especially for recovery planning involving multiple actions. We used decision theory to assess the impact of these types of impediments for allocating resources among recovery actions to mitigate multiple threats. We applied this to a declining koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population threatened by habitat loss, vehicle collisions, dog attacks and disease. We found that the unwillingness of dog owners to restrain their dogs at night (a social impediment), the effectiveness of wildlife crossings to reduce vehicle collisions (a technological impediment) and the unavailability of areas for restoration (a land-use impediment) significantly reduced the effectiveness of our actions. In the presence of these impediments, achieving successful recovery may be unlikely. Further, these impediments influenced the optimal choice of recovery actions, but the extent to which this was true depended on the target koala population growth rate. Given that species recovery is an important strategy for preserving biodiversity, it is critical that we consider how impediments to the success of recovery actions modify our choice of actions. In some cases, it may also be worth considering whether investing in reducing or removing impediments may be a cost-effective course of action.

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  • 2013
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