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Evaluating trade-offs in bull trout reintroduction strategies using structured decision making

November 8, 2017

Structured decision making allows reintroduction decisions to be made despite uncertainty by linking reintroduction goals with alternative management actions through predictive models of ecological processes. We developed a decision model to evaluate the trade-offs between six bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) reintroduction decisions with the goal of maximizing the number of adults in the recipient population without reducing the donor population to an unacceptable level. Sensitivity analyses suggested that the decision identity and outcome were most influenced by survival parameters that result in increased adult abundance in the recipient population, increased juvenile survival in the donor and recipient populations, adult fecundity rates, and sex ratio. The decision was least sensitive to survival parameters associated with the captive-reared population, the effect of naivety on released individuals, and juvenile carrying capacity of the reintroduced population. The model and sensitivity analyses can serve as the foundation for formal adaptive management and improved effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of bull trout reintroduction decisions.