Knowledge Exchange & Research Fellowship projects, University of Oxford (2016-2019)

I undertook a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship from January 2016 until March 2019, based at the University of Oxford. You can hear about some of the highlights from my fellowship, my key partnerships, and my reflections on successful knowledge exchange in my final seminar recorded in March 2019 below, and see my presentation slides in SlideShare here:

For a summary of all of my projects run within this fellowship, see this page.

Towards an integrated monitoring program: identifying indicators and existing monitoring programs to cost-effectively evaluate the Long Term Sustainability Plan (2015-2016)
Project collaborators: Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Australian Department of the Environment
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: National Environmental Science Program Tropical Water Quality Hub
Summary: This project addressed a series of critical initial steps required to develop a cost-effective integrated monitoring program. First, environmental, social and economic elements and indicators will be identified that could be monitored to enable an integrated evaluation of the Long Term Sustainability Plan (LTSP) targets. Second, existing monitoring programs will be evaluated against the newly developed LTSP targets, to ensure that the relevant aspects of these monitoring programs are considered for inclusion in an integrated monitoring program. Finally, the statistical performance of the AIMS Long Term and Marine Monitoring Programs will be evaluated to illustrate how these programs could cost-effectively contribute to an integrated monitoring program.
More details about this project can be found on the NESP Tropical Water Quality hub, and see our technical report:
Addison, P., Walshe, T., Sweatman, H., Jonker, M., Anthony, K., MacNeil, A., Thompson, A., Logan, M., 2015. Towards an integrated monitoring program: Identifying indicators and existing monitoring programs to effectively evaluate the Long Term Sustainability Plan, Report to the National Environmental Science Programme. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns, Australia.

A cost-effectiveness protocol to assist in the prioritisation of the second phase of Reef Trust investment (2014-2015)
Project collaborators: Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Australian Department of the Environment
Funding: Australian Department of the Environment
Role: Co-investigator
Summary: Dr Prue Addison and Dr Terry Walshe developed a modelling approach to estimate the cost-effectiveness of proposed management interventions in the Great Barrier Reef under the Reef Trust. The Reef Trust is an Australian Government initiative, where $140 million was been committed in 2015 to provide innovative, targeted investment focused on improving water quality, restoring coastal ecosystem health and enhancing species protection. You can read more about the Reef Trust and see our AIMS technical report on the approach to estimating cost-effectiveness of management interventions:
Addison, P. & Walshe, T. (2015) Summary report: the cost-effectiveness protocol used to assist in the prioritisation of the second phase of Reef Trust investment. Final Report to the Department of the Environment. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville.

A new wave of marine monitoring, evaluation and reporting. A special symposium held at the Australian Marine Sciences Association conference (2015)
Project collaborators: Australian Institute of Marine Science, Environment Protection Agency Victoria, Parks Victoria and the University of Plymouth
Funding: In kind support from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Environment Protection Agency Victoria, Parks Victoria, and the University of Plymouth (NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship programme)
Role: Academic lead
Summary: Sustainable management and conservation of the world’s oceans requires effective monitoring, evaluation, and reporting (MER). Despite the growing political and social imperative for these activities, there are some persistent and emerging challenges that marine practitioners face in undertaking these activities.
A diverse group of marine MER practitioners from universities, government agencies, and consultancies, came together at the 2015 Australian Marine Sciences Association conference to discuss the emerging challenges and novel solutions for marine MER. This group of practitioners shared common ground in wanting to share experience and expertise to improve the management and protection of the marine environment. Our symposium focussed on identifying critical and emerging challenges facing today’s marine practitioners. We then explored solutions to these challenges and in doing so offer a vision for a new wave of marine MER within evidence-based management. The outcomes of our symposium are available in the following peer reviewed paper:
Addison, P. F. E., Collins, D.J., Trebilco, R., Howe, S., Bax, N., Hedge, P., Jones, G., Miloslavich, P., Roelfsema, C., Sams, M., Stuart-Smith, R.D., Scanes, P., von Baumgarten, P., McQuatters-Gollop, A. (2017) A new wave of marine evidence-based management: emerging challenges and solutions to transform monitoring, evaluating and reporting. ICES Journal of Marine Science. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsx216

Decision triggers for conservation management – understanding conservation management needs and exploring scientific approaches to developing decision triggers (2014-2015)
Project collaborators: University of Melbourne, Monash University, New Zealand Department of Conservation, and Parks Victoria (2014)
Funding: $7,000 from the National Environment Research Program
Role: Co-investigator
Summary: Managing natural environments involves difficult decisions about when to intervene in a system where undesirable trends have been identified. Intervening too early may result in unnecessary management actions, while intervening too late may lead to much more costly interventions or irreversible changes.  There are many examples where for various reasons managers have failed to act on evidence of a population decline, resulting in the need for captive breeding programs or even extinction.  Therefore, managers need to be able to identify the most appropriate point to act, a decision threshold, based on the best-available information.
Developing decision thresholds into a successful management tool requires an active dialogue between scientists and managers to ensure thresholds are firmly grounded in ecological theory and capture the realistic constraints on, and context for, management.  While there is a growing interest in using decision thresholds, there is little or no coordination of efforts or information sharing between management agencies, and engagement with scientist about how to identify and define these thresholds is generally ad hoc.  To remedy this, researchers at the University of Melbourne and Monash University ran a NERP funded workshop with protected area managers to discuss the development of decision thresholds that could guide when to intervene in an ecosystem. The outcomes of this project are now available through 3 peer-reviewed papers:
Cook, C.N., de Bie, K., Keith, D.A. & Addison, P.F.E. (2016) Decision triggers are a critical part of evidence-based conservation. Biological Conservation, 195, 46–51.
Addison, P.F.E., Cook, C.N., de Bie, K. (2016) Conservation practitioners’ perspectives on decision triggers for evidence-based management. Journal of Applied Ecology. 53:1351–1357.
de Bie, K, Addison, P.F.E., Cook, C.N. (2017) Integrating decision triggers into conservation management practice. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI:10.1111/1365-2664.1304

PhD research: “Targeting the science–management interface: Improving the use of long-term monitoring for conservation management” (2011 – 2014)
Project collaborators: University of Melbourne, Monash University and Parks Victoria
Funding: Australian Postgraduate Award, plus funding from Parks Victoria and the NERP Marine Biodiversity Research Hub
Role: PhD research candidate
Summary: Long-term biological monitoring data are becoming increasingly available to inform conservation efforts internationally. These data are rich sources of scientific evidence that offer insights into the natural variability of ecosystems and species through time, as well revealing information about the effectiveness of conservation efforts. However, there are many occasions where long-term monitoring data, like other forms of scientific evidence, have been of little use to conservation. Scientists have been criticised for failing to collecting long-term monitoring data that is relevant to conservation management, and on the other hand conservation managers have been criticised for not using available scientific data to inform their management decisions.

Through my PhD research I explored barriers to the use of long-term monitoring data in conservation management, and developed a series of practical solutions to improve the use of scientific evidence in conservation management. My research targeted the science–management interface, acknowledging that both scientists and managers play vital roles in the creation and use of scientific evidence in conservation management.  Marine protected area (MPA) management was the focus of my research, as there are now many long-term monitoring programs associated with MPAs around the globe available to inform MPA management.

To investigate how long-term monitoring data are currently informing conservation management, I conducted interviews with MPA managers and scientists from Australian management agencies. I was particularly interested in documenting a national perspective of how long-term biological monitoring data are used to inform the evaluation and evidence-based management of MPAs. My research revealed that long-term monitoring data are rarely used quantitatively to inform condition assessments in management effectiveness evaluation (MEE). Despite this I found substantial evidence that long-term monitoring data are informing the evidence-based management of MPAs – contrary to the common criticism that conservation management agencies fail to use scientific evidence to inform management. This research revealed that the mechanism for the knowledge transfer from monitoring to evidence-based management is not MEE, indicating continued challenges for the practice of MEE in “closing the loop” to facilitate evidence-based management.

I asked the managers and scientists what would need to change in order to make quantitative condition assessment a reality for MEE, to help ensure that MEE facilitates evidence-based management. Their responses provided a rich commentary on the current state of MPA management, pointing to a complex array of operational, scientific and socio-political challenges. The greatest challenges that managers and scientists face include: a lack of agency capacity dedicated to monitoring and evaluation of biological indicators; the need for decision-support tools to be developed to help translate scientific evidence into management action; and, a lack of political and community support for, and understanding of protected areas.

To address some of the scientific barriers identified by MPA practitioners, I developed two methodological approaches to improve the use of long-term monitoring data in evidence-based management. These approaches focus on the development of conservation management thresholds to assist with interpreting long-term monitoring data and alert when management intervention is required to address undesirable ecosystem changes. The first approach uses the theory of control charts to set statistically informed management thresholds for environmental indicators. The second is a participatory modelling approach, designed to be useful when management thresholds must be set for multi-objective conservation problems by participants with limited modelling experience. Both approaches follow the steps of structured decision-making, emphasising the need for logical and transparent model development in conservation.

My PhD research advances the understanding of the barriers to using scientific evidence in conservation management. Many factors are at play that transcend the science–management interface. The practical solutions developed in my PhD substantively address many important barriers and promote the comprehensive use of scientific evidence in conservation management.

My PhD thesis is accessible through Minerva Access.

Publications from my PhD:
Addison P.F.E., Flander L.B., Cook C.N. (2017) Towards quantitative condition assessment of biodiversity outcomes: insights from Australian marine protected areas. Journal of Environmental Management. 198, 183–191.
Addison, P.F.E., Flander, L. B., Cook, C.N. (2015) Are we missing the boat? Current uses of long-term biological monitoring data in the evaluation and management of marine protected areas. Journal of Environmental Management. 149, 148–156.
Addison, P.F.E, de Bie, K., Rumpff, L. (2015) Setting conservation management thresholds using a novel participatory modelling approach. Conservation Biology, 29, 1411–1422.
Addison, P. F. E., Rumpff, L., Bau, S. S., Carey, J. M., Chee, Y. E., Jarrad, F., McBride, M. F., and Burgman, M. A. (2013). Practical solutions for making models indispensable in conservation decision-making. Diversity and Distributions. Special issue on: Perspectives and tools for conservation risk analysis.  19, 490–502.
Burgman, M., Lowell, K., Woodgate, P., Jones, S., Richards, G., Addison, P. (2012). An endpoint hierarchy and process control charts for ecological monitoring, in: Lindenmayer, D.B., Gibbons, P. (Eds.), Biodiversity monitoring in Australia. CSIRO, Melbourne, pp. 71-78.
Quality Assurance of the UK’s Marine Biological Monitoring Programmes (2008-2010)
Project collaborators: The UK Environment Agency and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Role: Technical Specialist (Marine Scientist)
Summary: Prue Addison was responsible for developing quality assurance protocols for national marine monitoring programs across the UK; management and analysis of national environmental datasets; website design & maintenance; facilitating national workshops; and, delivering science presentations.

Monitoring and Assessment of Victoria’s Rocky Intertidal Coast (MAVRIC; 2005-2007)
Project collaborators: Museum Victoria and the University of Melbourne
Funding: National Heritage Trust
Role: Project Officer (Marine Ecologist)
Summary: Victoria’s rocky intertidal reefs support a diverse array of animals and plants, many of which are unique to south eastern Australia.  These reefs are exposed at low tide and as a result they are subject to human induced pressures such as trampling by visitors, over-harvesting of some shellfish, poor water quality and coastal development.  There was limited understanding of howhuman induced pressures affect the inhabitants of Victoria’s rocky intertidal reefs. This project sought to develop an in depth understanding of human impacts on Victoria’s rocky intertidal reefs.  The outcomes of this project are now available through 2 peer-reviewed papers:
O’Hara T. D., Addison, P. F. E., Gazzard, R., Costa, T. L., Pocklington, J. B. (2010). A rapid biodiversity assessment methodology tested on intertidal rocky shores. Aquatic Conservation – Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 20(4), 452-463.
Addison, P. F. E., Koss, R. S. and O’Hara, T. D. (2008). Recreational use of a rocky intertidal reef in Victoria: Implications for ecological research and management. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management. 15, 169-179.