Rapid assessment of management options for promoting stock rebuilding in data-poor species under climate change
Reum, JCP and McDonald, PS and Long, WC and Holsman, KK and Divine, L and Armstrong, D and Armstrong, J, Rapid assessment of management options for promoting stock rebuilding in data-poor species under climate change, Conservation Biology, 34, (3) pp. 611-621. ISSN 0888-8892 (2020) [Refereed Article]
The development of species recovery plans requires considering likely outcomes of different management interventions, but the complicating effects of climate change are rarely evaluated. We examined how qualitative network models (QNMs) can be deployed to support decision making when data, time, and funding limitations restrict use of more demanding quantitative methods. We used QNMs to evaluate management interventions intended to promote the rebuilding of a collapsed stock of blue king crab (Paralithodes platypus) (BKC) around the Pribilof Islands (eastern Bering Sea) to determine how their potential efficacy may change under climate change. Based on stakeholder input and a literature review, we constructed a QNM that described the life cycle of BKC, key ecological interactions, potential climate-change impacts, relative interaction strengths, and uncertainty in terms of interaction strengths and link presence. We performed sensitivity analyses to identify key sources of prediction uncertainty. Under a scenario of no climate change, predicted increases in BKC were reliable only when stock enhancement was implemented in a BKC hatchery-program scenario. However, when climate change was accounted for, the intervention could not counteract its adverse impacts, which had an overall negative effect on BKC. The remaining management scenarios related to changes in fishing effort on BKC predators. For those scenarios, BKC outcomes were unreliable, but climate change further decreased the probability of observing recovery. Including information on relative interaction strengths increased the likelihood of predicting positive outcomes for BKC approximately 50% under the management scenarios. The largest gains in prediction precision will be made by reducing uncertainty associated with ecological interactions between adult BKC and red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus). Qualitative network models are useful options when data are limited, but they remain underutilized in conservation.