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Marxan R & D
Future R&D

We are constantly striving to review and advance research relating to Marxan. A recent workshop held in Brisbane, attended by Marxan experts from around Australia and the world, identified a number of issues for current and future research.
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Taking these ideas and developing the science to apply them is only part of the challenge. Cutting edge conservation planning research can only inform on the ground conservation work if the science is communicated to managers and incorporated into tools to support management. This requires funding to support development of decision support tools and learning materials that will reach a more general audience than technical papers do. Unfortunately, university and other academic funding sources only support research, creating a great need for funders that are willing to support development. 

Below is a list of projects that we are currently working on and for which funding is sought to progress these ideas into products that better meet the needs of the conservation planning community. 

If your organisation has an interest in any of these research areas, or wishes to contribute to this work being undertaken, please send an email to Hugh Possingham h.possingham@uq.edu.au or phone 6173365 9766.


Future R&D Projects

Tackling the Certainty of Planning in an Uncertain World
"Are you sure that species lives there?"
"Will that habitat survive there in the future?"
Given the uncertainty surrounding much of the data we use and the diverse array of risks facing biodiversity, it makes sense to talk in terms of probabilities rather than certainties. This development enables Marxan to use probabilistic data inputs.

Contact: Eddie Game
The Ecology Centre and Centre for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis
University of Queensland
e.game@uq.edu.au
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Making the Right Connections
One challenge facing marine park planners is accounting for the many connections occuring between and across different species and habitats.  These connections can be highly variable, for example with fish larval highways, and flow may be unidirectional.  Hence, connectivity can be described as asymmetrical.  This project is working on the theoretic formulation and implementation of asymmetric connectivity and using Marxan will test case studies in coral reefs, rivers, and terrestrial environments. 

Contact: Maria Beger
The Ecology Centre and Centre for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis
University of Queensland
m.beger@uq.edu.au

Freshwater Conservation with Marxan
We are currently adapting Marxan to be used in riverine environments.  This project considers threats by devising an asymmetric measure of connectivity, which places a higher priority on upstream catchments that are prone to disturbance. This will be embedded in the eWater catchment planning tool and hopefully increase the uptake of systematic methods in the realm of freshwater environments.

Contact: Simon Linke
eWater CRC Fellow, The Ecology Centre
University of Queensland
simon.linke@gmail.com

Better Choices for Negotiations
An important role of Marxan is to present information in a manner that can inform decision-making. Irreplacability maps are often a preferred way of viewing Marxan outputs because they give an indicative measure of the importance of individual planning units for meeting conservation objectives. However, irreplaceability maps do not present options for alternative conservation networks. This project aims to develop classification and ordination procedures to identify alternative networks with the least planning units in common, yet which still achieve conservation targets in an efficient manner.

Contact: Simon Linke
eWater CRC Fellow, The Ecology Centre
University of Queensland
simon.linke@gmail.com

Rome wasn't built in a day- the dynamic conservation planning problem
Marxan solves a single step conservation planning problem.  That is, it tells you what to do now assuming the world will never change again.  Yet conservation planning is characterised by many dynamic variables such as land-use change, habitat destruction, threat dynamics and price changes.  One response to change is to simply plan frequently – for example, if habitat is destroyed, rerun the Marxan analysis and set new priorities -  an effective but not a perfect approach.  We have a simple rule that we hope to incorporate into Marxan that sets priorities that accommodates the likelihood of change.  This will allow Marxan to integrate threat properly into its priority setting. 

Contact: Hugh Possingham
The Ecology Centre and Centre for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis
h.possingham@uq.edu.au
>More information 

Online tutorial for Marxan
Despite Marxan being the most widely used conservation planning software in the world, there is limited support for conservation practitioners to learn how to use it. We hope to launch an online tutorial that presents interactive modules to provide new users with basic training to gain access to, implement and start using Marxan. A more advanced tutorial will demonstrate the application of specific Marxan functionalities for more experienced users based on worked examples (eg multiple zoning using Marxan with zones).  

Contact: Romola Stewart
The Ecology Centre and Centre for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis
University of Queensland
r.stewart@uq.edu.au

Case studies-  Marxan at Work
There is a real need to showcase practical applications of Marxan in a range of different settings to better communicate people’s experiences with the tool, including software limitations and strengths as well as innovative solutions to problems that were encountered. This project will research and document  case studies of different  Marxan terrestrial, marine, and fresh water projects. Unlike existing papers and reports, the case studies will not focus on the scientific innovations nor the results- but will focus on the situations where Marxan might be used and how it can be applied.

Contact: Lindsay Kircher
The Ecology Centre, University of Queensland
l.kircher@uq.edu.au



Marxan at Work
Game E.T., Watts M.E., Wooldridge S., Possingham H.P. (2008) incorporate probability of catastrophe (above, coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef) into the conservation planning process.

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