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Energy & Envrionment Forum

Network Design Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation

Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 1:00 to 2:30 pm | Toyota Auditorium

Dr. Bistra Dilkina, Assistant Professor at the School of Computational Science and Engineering, Georgia Tech and Fellow, Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems


The persistence of many species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation due to human land use and climate change. Since conservation efforts are implemented under very limited economic resources, designing scalable, cost-efficient and systematic approaches for conservation planning is an important and challenging computational task.

In this talk, I present an optimization framework for conservation planning with stochastic meta-population models that is broadly applicable to network design for stochastic diffusion processes. I illustrate the approach in a case study of a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker population in North Carolina. I will also describe an optimization approach for landscape connectivity conservation planning (e.g. wildlife corridors) for multiple species, which enables the systematically study of tradeoffs between economic costs and conservation benefits, tradeoffs between single-species and multi-species planning, as well as tradeoffs with respect to species prioritization.

We apply our approach in western Montana to the conservation of grizzly bears and wolverines, and demonstrate economies of scale and complementarities conservation planners can achieve by optimizing corridor designs for financial costs and for multiple species connectivity jointly.

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