We propose a method using value of information (VOI) analysis to estimate the benefits of monitoring for management decision-making in multi-species, multi-threat systems. The idea is that monitoring influences the management decision and VOI helps evaluate the expected improvement in management outcomes when decisions are taken under additional information (say from monitoring).
We use this approach to compare the benefit of monitoring different species and monitoring using different strategies, e.g. surveillance monitoring (monitoring species without experimentation) to targeted monitoring (monitoring species with experimentation to learn about a specific threat), in systems with multiple threats and species.
We also illustrate our approach using two case studies for monitoring and managing declining mammals in Western Australia.
Case study results for targeted versus surveillance monitoring for the Pilbara (a–d), and Fitz-Stirling (e–h), where targeted monitoring involves experimentally managing one of the two threats. Expected value of sample information is expressed as the reduction in expected number of species declining.
We find that that surveillance monitoring provides less benefits than targeted monitoring, for managing threats under economic constraints in complex systems with multiple threats and species. We also find that the best monitoring strategy can change with the budget available for management, the differential impacts of threats on species and the relative costs of managing the different threats prevalent in the system.