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Decision Support Systems for Improving Invasive Rabbit Management in Australia

  • Author(s): Cruz, Jennyffer
  • Howard, Simon
  • Choquenot, David
  • Allen, Will
  • Warburton, Bruce
  • et al.
Abstract

European rabbits threaten ecological, agricultural, forestry, and production assets in Australia, New Zealand, and many oceanic islands where they have become established as invasive pests. Managing rabbits in conservation lands often requires managers to prioritise allocation of funding, while managing them in production lands often requires farmers to know what the benefits and costs are of undertaking control. We aimed to design two Decision Support Systems (DSS) to aid various rabbit management decisions in both conservation and agricultural settings. We describe how our approach: 1) engaged stakeholders to gain their thoughts on the type of decisions that needed support, the issues that they thought were important regarding rabbit management, and the scale and shape of the decision tool they wanted; and 2) produced DSS that were user-friendly, open-sourced, and, most importantly, able to evolve beyond our involvement, which ensures that they stay relevant and current, and are able to improve as new knowledge becomes available. Our approach also placed the DSS within the wider context of rabbit management which highlighted other steps necessary to achieve the ultimate objective of the DSS tool: effective rabbit management to protect and enhance conservation, social, and economic assets. This approach should increase acceptance of the DSS and their limitations but, more importantly, should increase the probability of achieving effective rabbit management.

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