Friday, 26 April 2013

To intervene, or not to intervene, that is the question.

Although an important first step in the fight against invasive species, quality known data is not always sufficient on its own to make tough management decisions.

Recent research1 has shown taking account of the information gap between the known and unknown could be an important tool in deciding between conventional and new methods for dealing with invasive species. Specifically the info-gap approach can help make potential assessments of non field tested techniques easier.

The principle behind the technique lies in utilising the info-gap model to map the disparity between known and unknown, whilst defining acceptable levels of outcome, essentially allowing determination of the best course of action.

The research1 looked in particular at the apple moth (native to Australia) and its impacts in California. With the known being the financial impact of the moth if no intervention is taken (i.e. status quo) and the unknown of intervention (i.e. eradication). The study found that if decision makers wanted an acceptable level of economic loss to be below $1.4 billion, then the preference should be for eradication.

However in order to be certain about the known, this type of approach relies on data collection and storage within a quality framework. If this is not the case the question then becomes, are existing data processes widening the info-gap beyond where it needs to be? If data can reasonably be known, then collecting and storing it in a quality way must surely be a first vital step in the decision making process.


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