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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ray Hilborn
FISH 558
Seattle Campus

Decision Analysis in Natural Resource Management

Focuses on age and size-structured population models; Bayesian methods; Sample Importance Resample algorithm; Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm; policy evaluation; and risk analysis and uncertainty in fisheries management. Recommended: either FISH 557 or permission of instructor.

Class description

Students will study modern methods (e.g., mathematical modeling, statistics and decision theory) used to evaluate risks in problems of conservation and management of natural populations, with special emphasis on endangered species listing and population viability analysis. The course will be computation-intensive, with each 1.5-hour class meeting being a mix of lecture and computer laboratory.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The basic framework of risk analysis is statistical decision theory, examining alternative hypotheses, alternative management actions, and the consequences of hypotheses and actions. We will explore Monte-Carlo and Bayesian methods using recent literature on conservation of whales, the spotted-owl, sea lions and commercial fisheries. We will also examine how to evaluate alternative management actions including adaptive management policies.

Recommended preparation

Interested students with any background should speak with the instructor.

Class assignments and grading

Two weekly, 1.5-hour interactive lecture/computer laboratory sessions, in which lecture material will be intermixed with computer calculations to learn both the theory and practice of risk analysis. Readings will be drawn from recent articles in journals. No textbook will be used.

Grades will be assigned based on homework and a term paper, which will be a risk analysis conducted by the student and written in the format of a scientific paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Marcus G Duke
Date: 05/10/1999