Decision Support System for Prioritising and Implementing Biosecurity on Western Australia’s Islands
The GBI-NCB Fund has financed a five-year project with the overall goal of enhancing the cost-effectiveness and accountability of investments in biosecurity on Western Australia’s islands.
The project will develop a decision-support system, built upon extensive expert knowledge and a hundred years of data collection, to help identify priorities for where, when, and how conservation should be applied to improve the biosecurity of the State’s islands.
The project involves a close collaboration between teams at Parks and Wildlife and James Cook University, plus extensive consultation with people with expertise and experience working on the Pilbara islands.
The project will focus on an initial set of about 230 islands off the Pilbara coast, between Karratha and Exmouth.
Existing data on native and invasive species will be compiled from all available sources, complemented with expert elicitation on the presence and abundance of native and invasive species, threats, and the effectiveness and costs of alternative actions to mitigate threats.
Existing data and models will be combined with expert assessments to estimate the differing probabilities of pest species establishing on islands not previously invaded.
The project will develop a new software tool to combine all the information collected, so as to identify spatial and temporal priorities for management actions to reduce or eliminate biosecurity threats on islands.
Achievements to date
A comprehensive database has been completed for the Pilbara islands, with records from hundreds of sources documenting species and habitat presence, fire history, human heritage sites, human visitation records, and past management actions.
The database also contains information from three reconnaissance trips to the region, multiple expert elicitation workshops, liaison with regional and district staff of Parks and Wildlife, initial discussions with experts in Perth, and habitat mapping using high-resolution satellite imagery.
Protocols for elicitation of information on management actions and costs have been developed and will be validated with experts. Comprehensive Bayesian Belief Networks have been developed that assess the probability of arrival and establishment of invasive species to islands through multiple pathways. Prototype software is being tested on a small data set. The fully tested software package will then be applied to all the islands in the study area and made available to managers.