Skip to main content

Decision Making in Natural Resource Management: A Structured, Adaptive Approach

Decision Making in Natural Resource Management: A Structured, Adaptive Approach

Michael J. Conroy, James T. Peterson

ISBN: 978-1-118-50623-3

Jan 2013

480 pages



This book is intended for use by natural resource managers and scientists, and students in the fields of natural resource management, ecology, and conservation biology, who are confronted with complex and difficult decision making problems. The book takes readers through the process of developing a structured approach to decision making, by firstly deconstructing decisions into component parts, which are each fully analyzed and then reassembled to form a working decision model.  The book integrates common-sense ideas about problem definitions, such as the need for decisions to be driven by explicit objectives, with sophisticated approaches for modeling decision influence and incorporating feedback from monitoring programs into decision making via adaptive management. Numerous worked examples are provided for illustration, along with detailed case studies illustrating the authors’ experience in applying structured approaches. There is also a series of detailed technical appendices.  An accompanying website provides computer code and data used in the worked examples.

Additional resources for this book can be found at:

Related Resources


Request an Evaluation Copy for this title

List of boxes xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgements xiv

Guide to using this book xv

Companion website xvii


1 Introduction: Why a Structured Approach in Natural Resources? 3

2 Elements of Structured Decision Making 13

3 Identifying and Quantifying Objectives in Natural Resource Management 24

4 Working with Stakeholders in Natural Resource Management 57


5 Statistics and Decision Making 79

6 Modeling the Infl uence of Decisions 147

7 Identifying and Reducing Uncertainty in Decision Making 192

8 Methods for Obtaining Optimal Decisions 232


9 Case Studies 263

10 Summary, Lessons Learned, and Recommendations 294


Appendix A Probability and Distributional Relationships 309

Appendix B Common Statistical Distributions 317

Appendix C Methods for Statistical Estimation 339

Appendix D Parsimony, Prediction, and Multi-Model Inference 373

Appendix E Mathematical Approaches to Optimization 384

Appendix F Guide to Software 430

Appendix G Electronic Companion to Book 432

Glossary 433

Index 449

“An easily readable and coherent account, this book has a definite role on the shelf (and its outline content in the minds) of conservation decision-makers and advisors.”  (African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 1 October 2015)

“This is one of the best resources on structured decision-making I have found – specifically tailored for those working in or studying in the fields of ecology, NRM, land management and conservation biology.”  (Ecological Management & Restoration, 20 January 2015)

“I highly recommend this book to resource managers, scientists, students, and anyone who faces difficult, complex, or uncertain decisions that would benefit from adopting a structured approach to decision making.”  (The Journal of Wildlife Management, 8 November 2013)

“I highly recommend the very results oriented and working model based book Decision Making in Natural Resource Management: A Structured, Adaptive Approach by Michael J. Conroy and James T. Peterson, to any natural resource managers, scientists, government policy makers, business leaders, conservation groups, and students of natural resource management, ecology, and conservation biology who are seeking a complete guide to structured and effective decision making in the area of natural resource management. This book will guide leaders toward better decisions, through a more integrated examination of the real problems to find viable and effective solutions.”  (Blog Business World, 5 April 2013)