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When do we need more data? : a primer on calculating the value of information for applied ecologists

Stefano Canessa UGent, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita, José J Lahoz-Monfort, Darren M Southwell, Doug P Armstrong, Iadine Chadès, Robert C Lacy and Sarah J Converse (2015) METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. 6(10). p.1219-1228
abstract
Applied ecologists continually advocate further research, under the assumption that obtaining more information will lead to better decisions. Value of information (VoI) analysis can be used to quantify how additional information may improve management outcomes: despite its potential, this method is still underused in environmental decision-making. We provide a primer on how to calculate the VoI and assess whether reducing uncertainty will change a decision. Our aim is to facilitate the application of VoI by managers who are not familiar with decision-analytic principles and notation, by increasing the technical accessibility of the tool. Calculating the VoI requires explicit formulation of management objectives and actions. Uncertainty must be clearly structured and its effects on management outcomes evaluated. We present two measures of the VoI. The expected value of perfect information is a calculation of the expected improvement in management outcomes that would result from access to perfect knowledge. The expected value of sample information calculates the improvement in outcomes expected by collecting a given sample of new data. We guide readers through the calculation of VoI using two case studies: (i) testing for disease when managing a frog species and (ii) learning about demographic rates for the reintroduction of an endangered turtle. We illustrate the use of Bayesian updating to incorporate new information. The VoI depends on our current knowledge, the quality of the information collected and the expected outcomes of the available management actions. Collecting information can require significant investments of resources; VoI analysis assists managers in deciding whether these investments are justified.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
adaptive management, Bayesian pre-posterior analysis, chytridiomycosis, conservation, decision analysis, experimental management, monitoring, CHYTRIDIOMYCOSIS, MANAGEMENT, SURVIVAL
journal title
METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
Methods Ecol. Evol.
volume
6
issue
10
pages
1219 - 1228
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000362916000011
JCR category
ECOLOGY
JCR impact factor
6.344 (2015)
JCR rank
8/149 (2015)
JCR quartile
1 (2015)
ISSN
2041-210X
DOI
10.1111/2041-210x.12423
language
English
UGent publication?
no
classification
A1
id
8522214
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-8522214
date created
2017-06-02 10:16:25
date last changed
2017-11-10 09:17:08
@article{8522214,
  abstract     = {Applied ecologists continually advocate further research, under the assumption that obtaining more information will lead to better decisions. Value of information (VoI) analysis can be used to quantify how additional information may improve management outcomes: despite its potential, this method is still underused in environmental decision-making. We provide a primer on how to calculate the VoI and assess whether reducing uncertainty will change a decision. Our aim is to facilitate the application of VoI by managers who are not familiar with decision-analytic principles and notation, by increasing the technical accessibility of the tool. Calculating the VoI requires explicit formulation of management objectives and actions. Uncertainty must be clearly structured and its effects on management outcomes evaluated. We present two measures of the VoI. The expected value of perfect information is a calculation of the expected improvement in management outcomes that would result from access to perfect knowledge. The expected value of sample information calculates the improvement in outcomes expected by collecting a given sample of new data. We guide readers through the calculation of VoI using two case studies: (i) testing for disease when managing a frog species and (ii) learning about demographic rates for the reintroduction of an endangered turtle. We illustrate the use of Bayesian updating to incorporate new information. The VoI depends on our current knowledge, the quality of the information collected and the expected outcomes of the available management actions. Collecting information can require significant investments of resources; VoI analysis assists managers in deciding whether these investments are justified.},
  author       = {Canessa, Stefano and Guillera-Arroita, Gurutzeta and Lahoz-Monfort, Jos{\'e} J and Southwell, Darren M and Armstrong, Doug P and Chad{\`e}s, Iadine and Lacy, Robert C and Converse, Sarah J},
  issn         = {2041-210X},
  journal      = {METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION},
  keyword      = {adaptive management,Bayesian pre-posterior analysis,chytridiomycosis,conservation,decision analysis,experimental management,monitoring,CHYTRIDIOMYCOSIS,MANAGEMENT,SURVIVAL},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {10},
  pages        = {1219--1228},
  title        = {When do we need more data? : a primer on calculating the value of information for applied ecologists},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210x.12423},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2015},
}

Chicago
Canessa, Stefano, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita, José J Lahoz-Monfort, Darren M Southwell, Doug P Armstrong, Iadine Chadès, Robert C Lacy, and Sarah J Converse. 2015. “When Do We Need More Data? : a Primer on Calculating the Value of Information for Applied Ecologists.” Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6 (10): 1219–1228.
APA
Canessa, S., Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahoz-Monfort, J. J., Southwell, D. M., Armstrong, D. P., Chadès, I., Lacy, R. C., et al. (2015). When do we need more data? : a primer on calculating the value of information for applied ecologists. METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 6(10), 1219–1228.
Vancouver
1.
Canessa S, Guillera-Arroita G, Lahoz-Monfort JJ, Southwell DM, Armstrong DP, Chadès I, et al. When do we need more data? : a primer on calculating the value of information for applied ecologists. METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. 2015;6(10):1219–28.
MLA
Canessa, Stefano, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita, José J Lahoz-Monfort, et al. “When Do We Need More Data? : a Primer on Calculating the Value of Information for Applied Ecologists.” METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 6.10 (2015): 1219–1228. Print.