Possingham, H.P., Wintle, B.A., Fuller, R.A. & Joseph, L.N. 2012. The conservation return on investment from ecological monitoring. Pp. 49-61 in: Lindenmayer, D.B. & Gibbons, P. (eds). Making Biodiversity Monitoring Happen in Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
Lesson #1: Most ecological monitoring starts without clearly stating the purpose of that monitoring, so our chapter defines five clear reasons to monitor.
Lesson #2: Money spent on monitoring is money that is not spent on management – there is a trade-off – and in some cases it may not be worth monitoring conservation management actions at all.
Lesson #3: Once the purpose of monitoring has been determined, the expected benefits and costs of that monitoring must be quantified so that a conservation return on investment can be calculated.
Lesson #4: There are at least five distinct, potentially quantifiable, benefits of monitoring.
Lesson #5: Monitoring optimised for one benefit may not be optimal for other benefits, so we need to focus on the primary objective or adopt a broad multi-criteria approach to determine the relative merits of different monitoring proposals.
Lesson #6: We need a new field of research that predicts, and test predictions about, the expected benefits of ecological monitoring.