Conservation decisions under pressure: lessons from an exercise in rapid response to wildlife disease
Novel outbreaks of emerging pathogens require rapid responses to enable successful mitigation. We simulated a one-day emergency meeting where experts were engaged to recommend mitigation strategies for a new outbreak of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in amphibians. Despite inevitable uncertainty, experts were able to suggest and discuss several possible strategies. However, their recommendations were undermined by imperfect definitions of the objectives and scope of management, a problem likely to arise in most real-world emergency situations. The exercise thus highlighted the importance of clearly defining the context, objectives, and spatial-temporal scale of mitigation decisions. Managers may feel under pressure to act immediately. However, an iterative process in which experts and managers cooperate to clarify objectives and uncertainties, while collecting more information and devising mitigation strategies, may be slightly more time consuming but ultimately lead to better outcomes.
|Outlet/Publisher:||Conservation Science and Practice|