Effectively integrating experiments into conservation practice.
Making effective decisions in conservation requires a broad and robust evidence base describing the likely outcomes of potential actions to draw on. Such evidence is typically generated from experiments or trials that evaluate the effectiveness of actions, but for many actions evidence is missing or incomplete. We discuss how evidence can be generated by incorporating experiments into conservation practice. This is likely to be most efficient if opportunities for carrying out informative, well-designed experiments are identified at an early stage during conservation management planning. We consider how to navigate a way between the stringent requirements of statistical textbooks and the complexities of carrying out ecological experiments in the real world by considering practical approaches to the key issues of replication, controls and randomization. We suggest that routinely sharing the results of experiments could increase both the value for money and effectiveness of conservation practice. We argue that with early planning and a small additional input of effort, important new learning can be gained during the implementation of many conservation actions.