An interactive decision support tool for participatory pest management planning: combining local, regional and scientific knowledge through immersive, collaborative and interactive technologies

Mathiesen, Dylan Mitchell (2016) An interactive decision support tool for participatory pest management planning: combining local, regional and scientific knowledge through immersive, collaborative and interactive technologies. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Decisions about resource allocation for invasive species management are usually made by multiple land managers who lack full knowledge of, or access to, information about the landscape beyond their area of interest. Although a vast number of modelling tools exist to aid pest management they are often too difficult for the majority of pest managers or are too time consuming to run. Advances in interactive technologies have opened new opportunities for the development of engaging decision support tools. The combination of these technologies with pest management planning will allow multiple stakeholders to engage and assess interactions simultaneously, so management decisions can be based on a larger ecological and financial vision. This thesis explores the value interactive technologies have for improving the pest management decision making process.

To investigate the potential of interactive technologies applied to pest management planning an interactive tool was designed, developed and evaluated. Far North Queensland (FNQ) was selected as the study location due to its rich biodiversity and ideal climate for pest weeds. The research was divided into three phases: 1) Understanding the existing pest management process, both from relevant literature and from the perspectives of individual pest managers as well as identifying areas where interactive technologies could be applied; 2) Implementation of the tool; 3) Refinement of the tool with end users and evaluation with real pest managers.

Phase One explored the existing pest management process, expanding on the literature and methodologies used for pest management in FNQ. Analysis of the existing pest management process was conducted using Activity Theory (AT) and the Activity- Oriented-Design Methodology (AODM). Contradictions and limitations in the existing process were identified along with a series of pertinent research questions, the answers for which would help develop a deeper understanding of pest management. These questions were answered using a series of interviews with six pest management planners from different backgrounds. An observational study was also conducted with a group of expert ecologists using an interactive tool with a new type of distribution model to collect feedback on its potential in pest management.

Phase Two developed an implementation based on the findings of the first phase. A new type of interactive pest management decision support tool was built around the MigClim dispersal model. A number of optimisations were made to improve its runtime. A web service was developed that could run the MigClim model and render dispersal outputs. An interactive user interface was built around the web service that allows users to add pest populations and define management objectives to interact with the model. The user could press the run button at any time to see a visualisation of the impact their objectives had on the pest species over time along with the cost and amount of work required.

Phase Three incorporated potential end users to refine the interaction process and conceptual design of the tool. Two usability testing sessions were run with groups of three participants. A number of issues were found where the tool did not provide the information the participants needed or behaved unexpectedly. These concerns were addressed in new iterations of the prototype tool. A final case study was conducted with six experienced pest managers. They were trained in using the tool and asked to develop a plan around a quasi-real pest species. An evaluation was conducted after the focus group to explore how this interactive tool compared to traditional pest management planning.

There were a number of key findings about interactive technologies and pest management. Both experienced planners and first time planners, with limited training, ran the MigClim dispersal model to inform their decision making processes. The tool allowed them to refine their plans over a period of time using the model to evaluate different strategies. The planners highlighted the ability for interactive tools like this to be used in other applications such as: educating communities, engaging uninterested stakeholders, preparing budgets, and building consensus with other planners.

Item ID: 52657
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: invasive species; pests; pest management; human computer interaction; HCI; UX research; activity centered design; ACD; Far North Queensland; Miconia
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2018 05:43
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 40%
08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0803 Computer Software > 080399 Computer Software not elsewhere classified @ 60%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960405 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species at Regional or Larger Scales @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961308 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas at Regional or Larger Scales @ 20%
89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8998 Environmentally Sustainable Information and Communication Services > 899899 Environmentally Sustainable Information and Communication Services not elsewhere classified @ 10%
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