Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Vermont
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Vermont Project

Using Relational Databases to Improve Structured Decision Making for Natural Resource Management

April 2009 - September 2012


Participating Agencies

  • Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
  • USGS

A major initiative of the USGS Cooperative Research Unit (CRU) Program is teach and apply formal structured decision making approaches to the management of natural resources. Structured decision making, or SDM, is “an organized approach to identifying and evaluating creative options and making choices in complex decision situations.” In the context of natural resource management, SDM is designed to deliver insight to natural resource decision makers about how well their management objectives may be satisfied by potential alternative courses of action. The SDM process generally involves identifying the natural resource management problem, setting management objectives, identifying potential alternative management actions, estimating the likely consequences of each alternative (often through rigorous quantitative modeling), and then weighing each alternative and identifying trade-offs among alternatives. When the same decision problem is tackled on a recurrent basis, new (updated) information is used to provide fresh perspectives on alternatives, their likely outcomes, and trade-offs. “Adaptive management” is the application of SDM approaches when a decision problem is iterative. This project proposes to meld the disciplines of computer science and natural resources management, by investigating and developing efficient ways to identify, collect, serve, and analyze data to support state-based natural resources management problems.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Rinehart, K. 2015. Analytical and decision tools for wildlife population and habitat management. PhD Dissertation. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT USA. January 2015
Cummings, J. W. 2014. Decision support for natural resource management. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT USA. August 2014