This decision support system (DSS) was developed by Landcare Research, New Zealand and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA-CRC), in collaboration with NSW Local Land Service and grazing production farmers in the Centre Tablelands region of NSW. The DSS is designed as a learning tool that demonstrates the potential cost-benefits of rabbit control under alternative scenarios, and encourages the use of best practice. The DSS allows the users to vary pre-set inputs depending on the scenario they want to simulate including the size of the target area prone to rabbits, the initial amount of grass available and density of rabbits present, and the rabbit control methods to be applied, as well as how often control will be repeated. The main outputs are estimates of stock production and the cost-benefits of the chosen rabbit control strategy versus undertaking no rabbit control.
This DSS has been developed in the R programming environment and made easily accessible using the Shiny web application framework. A detailed description of the DSS and the R source code is also available from this website so anyone can update it or adapt it as required.
The DSS is based on an ecological model developed by Choquenot (1998) and detailed in Thompson (2000). This model was used for a previous (currently unused) DSS developed by the Centre for Agricultural & Regional Economics Pty Ltd (CARE) for the Bureau of Rural Sciences. The model uses data collected from rabbit control trials at multiple sheep production farms in the Centre Tablelands region of NSW over a three year period (Choquenot 1998). The data were used to develop a seasonal herbivore-resource model in which rabbits and stock interact through shared pasture biomass.
The simulation of rabbit control using the DSS proceeds by applying starting values for pasture biomass, rabbit and stock density, and rainfall, to the ecological model and simulating their monthly values over time for a specified number of years. Control and no-control are simulated using the same initial rainfall values and the outputs then summarised for comparison. The general structure of the DSS is arranged into specific steps performed on the pasture and herbivore (stock and rabbit) components of the model (see Fig).
Figure. DSS simulation structure. The DSS is separated into a sequence of steps performed on the herbivore-resource model. Based on starting values, the DSS calculates monthly values, continuing until the end of the simulation.
Allen W, Cruz J, Warburton B. 2017. How Decision Support Systems Can Benefit from a Theory of Change Approach. Environmental management. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00267-017-0839-y.
Cruz J, Howard S, Choquenot D, Allen W, Warburton B (in press). Decision support systems for improving invasive rabbit management in Australia. Proceeding of the 27th vertebrate pest conference, New Port Beach, CA.Last updated: September 28, 2017