The value of capturing diverse perspectives when setting decision triggers for threatened species management.

Published online
19 Feb 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Hilton, M. & Walsh, J. C. & Maloney, R. F. & Hansen, N. A. & Cook, C. N.
Contact email(s)

Publication language
Australia & New Zealand


Conservation practitioners commonly work together in management teams, contributing expertise to the planning and decision-making associated with threatened species management. These groups may include individuals with different perspectives around if, when and how to implement management. Yet, rarely do we consider the value of discussion in shaping these perspectives, and thus management. Decision triggers can be used to formalise decisions around management and encourage teams to explore these decisions proactively. Previous research has identified how individual experts set decision triggers but there are no accepted approaches for capturing the expertise that exists across management teams when setting decision triggers. To address this gap, we developed an approach to formalise team deliberations about when and how to intervene if a decline in the condition of a threatened species were to be observed. Using a modified Delphi process, individual experts within a threatened species management team were asked to independently set trigger points and assign actions for the species. Then, as a group, experts discussed anonymised responses, enabling us to understand how group dynamics influenced the decision-making process. Experts had the opportunity to update their responses based on the group discussion, providing a rationale to support their decisions. We tested the approach with experts from teams managing threatened species across conservation organisations in Australia and New Zealand. We found that experts often updated their responses to incorporate issues raised by the group, demonstrating a willingness to integrate the perspectives of other team members. Experts tended to become more cautious after discussing their responses, setting additional trigger points and actions, and triggering actions sooner. Synthesis and applications: Our approach provides a structured process to formally integrate the range of perspectives and experience of groups of experts when setting trigger points and actions. This can help to address common biases that arise during unstructured decision-making, and ensure decision-making processes are transparent.

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