How do you manage a population of sea otters that you can’t count properly? That’s the problem addressed in a recent paper published in PLoS One by Sam Nicol and Iadine Chades. Managing populations of endangered species often means making decisions and taking actions in a world of uncertainty. There are different sources of uncertainty, but one of the areas receiving attention lately is partial observability. Partial observability in a population refers to our inability to correctly count all the individuals in a population during a survey or a census. It occurs because organisms are hard to find, and it means that we have to estimate the full size of a population based on estimates from surveys. If you don’t know how many individuals there are in a population, how do you know if you are managing correctly? Sam and Iadine propose a novel solution to this problem.
Nicol S, Chadès I (2012) Which States Matter? An Application of an Intelligent Discretization Method to Solve a Continuous POMDP in Conservation Biology. PLoS ONE 7(2): e28993. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028993
We are delighted to have Sam joining our group as a post-doc in May 2012