AMSI/ANZIAM/MPE National Seminar: The mathematics of conservation decisions

Host Institution:

University of Queensland

Title of Seminar:

The mathematics of conversation decisions

Speaker's Name:

Prof. Hugh Possingham

Speaker's Institution:

The University of Queensland

Time and Date:

Friday 21 June 2.30pm AEST for a 3.00pm AEST start of the presentation

Seminar Abstract:

I will discuss three major problems in conservation research: where should we invest, globally, in biodiversity? How much should we allocate to different threatened species? How should I build protected area systems on the land and in the sea?  The problems will be defined and the algorithms to solve the problems will be discussed.  The politics and policy implications of conservation decision support using mathematics and economics will be alluded to - to the point that I don't get sued.  Our publications can be found at:  and our centre's web sites can be found at: .

About Hugh Possingham:

Hugh’s PhD was in biomathematics at Oxford University funded by a Rhodes scholarship. Following postdocs at Stanford and ANU. Hugh’s first “real” job was as a lecturer in Applied Mathematics at The University of Adelaide in 1990. After that he drifted to the dark side – ecology and conservation – becoming the Foundation Professor and Chair of Environmental Science at The University of Adelaide. In 2000 he move to a Professorship at The University of Queensland jointly between mathematics and biology.

The Possingham lab developed the most widely used conservation planning software in the world. Marxan was used to underpin the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef and is currently used in over 100 countries by over 3000 users – from the UK and USA to Madagascar and Brazil – to build the world’s marine and terrestrial landscape plans. Most recently Marxan was used to develop the biggest marine reserve system in the world – Australia’s federal marine reserve system. Hugh coauthored two scientific consensus statements that lead to Australia’s marine reserve system. Many governments and ENGOs use his lab’s work for the allocation of funding to threatened species recovery and solving other conservation conundrums.

In 2001 Hugh was awarded an Australian Mathematics Society medal for a mathematician under the age of 40.

Possingham has coauthored 353 refereed publications covered by the Web of Science (24 in Science, Nature or PNAS) and has more than 10,000 Web of Science citations. He currently directs two research centres, each of about $15 million, and he has supervised (or is supervising) 53 PhD students and 42 postdoctoral fellows.


Seminar Convenor:

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