Detailed information about the course

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Introduction to Decision Making for Applied Ecology and Conservation


29 Jan- 2 Feb 2024

Lang EN Workshop language is English

Dr. Alejandra Morán Ordoñez, University of Barcelona (ES)

Dr. Stefano Canessa, UNIBE



Dr. John Ewen, Zoological Society London (UK)

Prof. Antoine Guisan, UNIL

Dr. Stefano Canessa, UNIBE

Dr. Virgilio Hermoso, University of Seville (ES)

Dr. Alejandra Morán Ordoñez, UNIL & UNIBE

Dr. Benedikt Schmidt, UZ

Dr. Jana Freundt, UNIFR



Scientists and managers working to preserve biodiversity constantly need to make and advise management decisions, often with conflicting objectives, time pressure, limited resources and incomplete knowledge. Recognizing this complexity, conservation increasingly uses a range of principles and tools to make rational decisions in difficult situations.

This five-day course provides a primer in decision analysis for conservation. It is aimed at students of ecology and evolution who seek a career in making or advising conservation decisions, independently or interacting with management agencies and practitioners.


Each day combines lectures, practical training, and small group activities to enable application to real-world conservation challenges.

All speakers are leading experts in conservation and/or decision making, with years of experience in delivering training to future and current scientists, managers and practitioners



PDF of Programme

Day 1: conservation decision-making

• Human decision making: heuristics and biases (Dr. Jana Freundt, University of Fribourg)

• Making conservation decisions (Dr. John Ewen, Zoological Society London, UK)

• Predictions for decision-making (Dr. Stefano Canessa, University of Bern)

• Breakout: identifying components of a conservation decision problem

• Practical: structured expert elicitation

Day 2: science and values

• Setting objectives and choosing metrics (Dr. John Ewen)

• Breakout: building an objective hierarchy

• Practical: Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique

Day 3: uncertainty and learning

• Monitoring for conservation (Dr. Benedikt Schmidt, University of Zurich)

• Uncertainty and risk attitudes (Dr. Stefano Canessa)

• Breakout: adaptive management

• Practical: decision trees

Day 4: solving trade-offs

• Species distribution models for conservation (Prof. A. Guisan, University of Lausanne)

• Algorithms for conservation decisions (Dr. Virgilio Hermoso, University of Sevilla, Spain)

• Practical: optimal resource allocation (Dr. Alejandra Morán, University of Lausanne)

Day 5: systematic conservation planning

• Using MARXAN for conservation decisions (Dr. Virgilio Hermoso)

• Practical: designing optimal protected areas (Dr. Alejandra Morán)

• Feedback and conclusions


Note: breaks and food

There will be coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon (20 minutes each) and a longer break for lunch

(1 hour). The exact timing of the shorter breaks will be adjusted depending on each session (but expect

~10:30 and ~15:30 for am and pm respectively). We plan to start each day at 9 and finish at 17, except the

last day when we'll finish an hour earlier at 16 to allow return travel.



UNIBE, UniTobler building, Lerchenweg 36, room F-121 (floor -1)



Jan 29 - Feb 2

Time: 9:00- 17:00


The course will be held at the University of Bern, UniTobler building, Lerchenweg 36, room F-121 (floor -1).

From the main station in Bern, you can walk 1.2 km from the main exit (approximately 15-20 minutes), 850 m from the secondary exit in Stadtbachstrasse (approx. 12 minutes), or take buses 102, 104, 105 or 107 (approx. 4 minutes).

Coffee breaks and lunches will be in the same building (mensa on ground floor).


Dr. Catherine Suarez

[email protected]






PhD students of the CUSO DPEE are eligible for the reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train (half-fare card, 2nd class). Claims can be done online via MyCUSO when the activity is over.



CUSO DPEE members: Free

Other participants: please contact the programme coordinator at ecologie-evolution(at)





Deadline for registration: 16.01.2023


DPEE members (and PhD students of CUSO universities): FREE

Others (MSc and postdocs): Please contact the CUSO coordinator here: ecologie-evolution(at)



Cancellation Policy

In case of cancellations, before the deadline (16.01.2024): free

Late cancellations (after 16.01.2024) or no-show: 100 CHF administrative fee






Deadline for registration 16.01.2024
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