Monday, May 23, 2016
15:30 - 17:00

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15:30 - 15:45: / 306 SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS AS GOLD STANDARDS IN EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS, AND WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THEM

5/23/2016  |   15:30 - 15:45   |  306

SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS AS GOLD STANDARDS IN EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS, AND WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THEM Systematic review methods are transparent, objective, and repeatable means of synthesising evidence in a comprehensive and reliable way. Methods now widely employed in medicine have been adapted for use in environmental management, and systematic review and related systematic mapping methods are becoming increasingly used to summarise controversial, conflicting, and high profile topics in environmental sciences. Many researchers and decision-makers view systematic reviews as gold standards for collating and summarising existing evidence, and a number of international and national organisations now rely on systematic reviews for their evidence needs. Because of their rigour, systematic review methods can be very resource intensive, typically taking between 9 and 24 months to complete. Although they may not be appropriate for all environmental questions, particularly where evidence needs are pressing or where resources are limited, lessons can be learned from systematic reviews that can improve the transparency and reliability of other forms of literature review. Furthermore, ongoing work aims to reduce the resource and time requirements of systematic reviews, making them more rapid.

Neal Haddaway (Primary Presenter/Author), MISTRA EviEM, neal_haddaway@hotmail.com;


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15:45 - 16:00: / 306 CHALLENGES FOR EVIDENCE-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE AND SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF CAUSATION?

5/23/2016  |   15:45 - 16:00   |  306

CHALLENGES FOR EVIDENCE-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE AND SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF CAUSATION? Studies attempting to demonstrate causation in environmental systems face challenges associated with natural variability, multiple stressors, difficulty of performing rigorous experiments, and the time and money required to undertake such studies. Rapid, transparent and logical methods are needed to synthesize and evaluate evidence from multiple research studies. Eco Evidence was developed for this purpose, providing a synthesis method, online database and analysis software for use in environmental causal assessments. Eco Evidence provides a definition of ‘acceptable’ and ‘sufficient evidence’ to establish causation. To illustrate this, we provide an example where Eco Evidence informed a review of groundwater abstraction limits for environmental flow guidelines in the Australian Capital Territory. Available evidence from peer-reviewed and unpublished sources was deemed sufficient and acceptable to inform a decision to keep groundwater abstraction limits below 10% of long-term recharge. We will also discuss how the definitions of acceptable and sufficient evidence might differ based upon the reasons for conducting an environmental causal assessment, and on the perceived risk and consequences of making particular decisions.

Susan Nichols (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Canberra, Australia, Sue.Nichols@canberra.edu.au;


Michael Peat ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Canberra, Michael.Peat@canberra.edu.au;


Angus Webb ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), The University of Melbourne, angus.webb@unimelb.edu.au;
Dr Angus Webb is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He originally trained as a marine ecologist before moving into the study and restoration of large-scale environmental problems in freshwater systems. Much of his research centers on improving the use of the existing knowledge and data for such problems. To this end he has developed innovative approaches to synthesizing information from the literature, eliciting knowledge from experts, and analyzing large-scale data sets. He is heavily involved in the monitoring and evaluation of ecological outcomes from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan environmental watering, leading the program for the Goulburn River, Victoria, and advising on data analysis at the basin scale. Angus is currently a co-editing a major new text book on environmental flows science and management. He was awarded the 2013 prize for Building Knowledge in Waterway Management by the River Basin Management Society, and the 2012 Australian Society for Limnology Early Career Achievement Award.

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16:00 - 16:15: / 306 USING EVIDENCE REVIEWS TO INFORM WATER POLICY AND PRACTICE DECISION MAKING: EXPERIENCES FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM

5/23/2016  |   16:00 - 16:15   |  306

USING EVIDENCE REVIEWS TO INFORM WATER POLICY AND PRACTICE DECISION MAKING: EXPERIENCES FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM It is increasing recognized that decision making needs to be informed by objective reviews of evidence. This helps to ensure the creation of well-designed and effective policies. However, despite research investment there is sometimes a lack of consideration of what the evidence on a topic presents, creating challenges for the use of evidence in decision making. Working with the Joint Water Evidence Group at the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) methodologies for systematic searching, collating and synthesizing evidence have been developed. These have been successfully used to answer decision makers’ evidence needs in the areas of water and land management and have been found to have a number of advantages, including; answering a range of questions, responding to different timescales and being cost effective. The methods and associated guidance have now been adopted as best practice throughout the Department and its delivery organizations. This presentation will introduce the methods developed, provide examples of how they have been used to inform decisions and share experiences of using evidence reviews at the science-policy interface.

Alexandra Collins (Primary Presenter/Author), Imperial College London, alexandra.collins@imperial.ac.uk;


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16:15 - 16:30: / 306 APPLYING SCIENCE SYNTHESIS TO NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY NEEDS: A BOUNDARY WORK PERSPECTIVE

5/23/2016  |   16:15 - 16:30   |  306

APPLYING SCIENCE SYNTHESIS TO NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY NEEDS: A BOUNDARY WORK PERSPECTIVE The processes by which scientific information becomes part of environmental policy have implications for successfully preserving natural resources and can take a variety of forms. We describe examples in which scientific evidence directly informed national environmental policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and discuss ways in which scientific knowledge was synthesized and communicated to decision-makers, using a boundary work perspective. Boundary work takes place at the interface of different disciplines (here, science and policy-making); boundary workers function as integrators and mediators of information flow across disciplinary boundaries. We discuss several aspects of boundary work, including the ways in which scientists and policy-makers engage (via the formation of ad hoc boundary organizations, for example), factors that make scientific knowledge more influential during the formulation of policy decisions, and suggestions for how scientists can contribute to or engage in boundary work. Our hope is that improving scientists’ understanding of boundary work concepts and practices can result in more effective integration of research into policy. Disclaimer: Authors’ views expressed here do not necessarily reflect views or policies of the US EPA.

Laurie Alexander (Primary Presenter/Author), U.S. EPA, alexander.laurie@epa.gov;


Caroline Ridley ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ridley.caroline@epa.gov;


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16:30 - 16:45: / 306 WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE HAVE TO IDENTIFY ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS THAT DIRECTLY MATTER TO PEOPLE?

5/23/2016  |   16:30 - 16:45   |  306

WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE HAVE TO IDENTIFY ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS THAT DIRECTLY MATTER TO PEOPLE? Evidence-based environmental management uses scientific results to support environmental management. For example, identification of ecological indicators that directly matter to people and reflect the values they hold is important in their effective involvement in decision making. While this view is widely held, specific guidance on how to identify these indicators is lacking. However, social science methodology and theory along with ecological understanding provide a foundation to identify these indicators and to evaluate the competence with which they have been identified. Specific to our research, qualitative social science methods, such as depth interviews and focus groups provide insight into the information needed for decision making and the underlying values that are to be embodied in indicators. Linked production function theory provides a first principles foundation to refine or integrate those results. Integration with ecological understanding then generates hypotheses about practical ecological indicators that matter directly to people. Other social science methods, e.g. choice experiments, provide for the evaluation of this integrated analysis. We illustrate our methods with stream data from the western United States and with focus group studies.

Paul Ringold (Primary Presenter/Author), US EPA, ORD, Western Ecology Division, ringold.paul@epa.gov;


Matt Weber ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), US EPA, ORD, Western Ecology Division, webermat@oregonstate.edu;


Kim Hall ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), ORISE @ US EPA, ORD, Western Ecology Division, hall.kim@epa.gov;


Kirsten Winters ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), ORISE @ US EPA, ORD, Western Ecology Division, winters.kirsten@epa.gov;


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16:45 - 17:00: / 306 MOVING FROM PUBLISHED RESEARCH RESULTS TO POLICY DECISIONS WITH THE HELP OF CONCEPTUAL MODEL DIAGRAMS

5/23/2016  |   16:45 - 17:00   |  306

MOVING FROM PUBLISHED RESEARCH RESULTS TO POLICY DECISIONS WITH THE HELP OF CONCEPTUAL MODEL DIAGRAMS Review and assessment of what’s already known are key parts of scientific endeavor. As scientists, we search the peer-reviewed literature to determine what research has already been done, its strengths and weaknesses, what its findings might mean, and what new questions it raises. Ideally, a similar review process would be used to apply scientific results to policy issues. However, the translation and application of primary research findings to the policy arena can be challenging. Conceptual models can help improve the application of scientific knowledge to policy-relevant issues in several ways. Their explicit presentation of how we think things work is particularly valuable when communicating complex causal pathways to managers and other audiences. By linking individual results from peer-reviewed studies—that is, individual pieces of evidence—directly to these diagrams, it becomes clear how each piece of evidence contributes to our overall understanding of the issue. Conceptual models can make evidence synthesis more systematic and transparent, thereby improving communication of the current state of knowledge to others. DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the authors’ and not views or policies of the U.S.EPA.

Kate Schofield (Primary Presenter/Author), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, schofield.kate@epa.gov;


Micah Bennett ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, bennett.micah@epa.gov;


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