ConFooBio: modelling conservation conflicts
The ConFooBio project is a large and growing team effort focused at understanding, predicting and mediating conservation conflicts across a wide range of case studies. Conservation conflicts occur between stakeholders with different, and often contesting, interests in the conservation and/or exploitation of natural resources. Given increased pressures on such resources due to climate change and habitat loss, such conflicts are becoming increasingly prevalent. Well-known examples are e.g. damage to agricultural crops by rapid expansion and population growth of wildfowl such as geese, illegal killing of elephants by landowners fearful of damage to their lives or livelihood, persecution of legally protected birds of prey by gamekeepers managing other quarry species, and even adverse effects of renewable energy developments on birds, bats and marine mammals.
Within ConFooBio we combine population ecology (including modelling and fieldwork), social science and simulation modelling to develop models which may predict not just the response of wildlife to certain management strategies, but also the behaviour of stakeholders (e.g. hunters or farmers).
The recently developed Generalised Management Strategy Evaluation (GMSE) software is a first step towards this: it uses genetic algorithms and field data on both population dynamics and stakeholder decision making to simulate the whole management cycle. You can read more about this in the accompanying paper and on Brad Duthie’s website. This tool can be used not only to explore and identify shortcomings in the management process, but also to predict the effects of certain management interventions: for example, we have recently used this framework to generate evidence-based cull targets for a managed wildfowl species in the UK (contract for Scottish Natural Heritage).
Within ConFooBio, my current focus is two-fold:
- First, I aim to continue the development of GMSE by expanding its capabilities (e.g. improving simulated stakeholder decision making, incorporating multiple targets per stakeholder).
- Second, I am hoping to facilitate the uptake of management/policy tools (using GMSE as an example but also considering issues more generally) by both identifying novel case studies and actively working with decision makers.
Selected relevant publications:
- Duthie AB, Cusack JJ, Jones IL, Minderman J, Nilsen EB, Pozo RA, Rokatonarovi S, Van Moorter B, Bunnefeld, N. (2018). GMSE: An R package for generalised management strategy evaluation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI:10.1111⁄2041-210X.13091