CIE Seminar Series – 2020: Optimal ecosystem management using networked theory and optimization

SPEAKER: Dr Hui Xiao, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Conservation Science Group, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

DATE & TIME: Friday, 21st August 2020 @ 12:00 noon

LOCATION: Seminar to be streamed via Zoom. Click HERE to connect.


Ecological systems are made up of complex and often unknown interactions and feedbacks. Uncovering these interactions and feedbacks among species, ecosystem functions, and ecosystem services is challenging, costly, and time-consuming. Today, decision makers face the challenge of disentangling those complex interactions in order to maintain both biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.

I will present my recent research on:

1) combining optimisation and network theory to investigate the difference in species prioritisation and management outcomes when targeting biodiversity or ecosystem services. Using both simulation and empirical case study, results suggest that the trophic level of the species providing the services is important for reaching win-win situations for both biodiversity and ecosystem services.

2) I will also present a dynamic value of information approach, combined network theory, decision science, and optimizations, to investigate whether and on which condition resolving the ecosystem structure uncertainty (i.e., the feedback links from ecosystem function to species) could improve management outcomes.

As a follow up study of topic (1), this study suggests that learning the feedbacks from ecosystem function to species does not improve management outcomes for maximising biodiversity, yet improves management outcomes for ecosystem services by up to 25% for risk-neutral managers and 231% for risk-prone managers. To finish the seminar, I will briefly introduce my current work on ecosystem assessment and natural capital accounting.



Hui Xiao is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Emily Nicholson’s Conservation Science group at the Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University. She obtained her PhD in ecological modelling at the University of Queensland, and work at the interface of statistics, econometrics, and conservation science.

She is interested in applying the state-of-the art techniques, such as network theory, stochastic dynamics programming, and value of information, to better suggest conservation decision-making, with specific focus on biodiversity-ecosystem services trade-offs and management under uncertainty.

Her current projects involve ecosystem risk assessments, natural capital accounting, and how risks to ecosystem could be related to risks of human well-being.

For more information click HERE.

As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone.

Thanking you in advance!