Lab Publication - Safety in numbers: cost-effective endangered species management for viable populations

Current humpback chub abundance
Expected Present Costs of Electrofishing Trips and the Perceived Future Loss from Extinction

Pierce Donovan, Michael Springborn and coauthors published a new paper on the cost-effective control of an invasive species in Land Economics.

Disastrous outcomes, such as the population collapse of an endangered species, are non-marginal events that are particularly hard to value with existing methods. Because of this, the standard net benefit maximization is not a reliable policy generator. Viable control provides an alternative mindset: seek an acceptably small likelihood of a bad outcome, ideally at the smallest possible management cost.

In the paper Safety in Numbers, Pierce, Mike and coauthors apply cost-effective viable control to the conservation of the Humpback Chub in the Grand Canyon, a fish under threat due to predation and competition from non-native species. Here, they focus their efforts on two questions: (1) “what population abundance should we aim for in order to avoid a minimum viable threshold?” and (2) “what is the shadow value of non-attainment?” These questions are addressed using a new viable control dynamic programming algorithm.

Click here for an outreach publication in ARE Update with the paper.

News for the paper in Land Economics from UC Davis ARE.