Group Decisions in Biodiversity Conservation: Implications from Game Theory

dc.creatorFrank, David M.en
dc.creatorSarkar, Sahotraen
dc.description.abstractBackground -- Decision analysis and game theory [1], [2] have proved useful tools in various biodiversity conservation planning and modeling contexts [3]–[5]. This paper shows how game theory may be used to inform group decisions in biodiversity conservation scenarios by modeling conflicts between stakeholders to identify Pareto–inefficient Nash equilibria. These are cases in which each agent pursuing individual self–interest leads to a worse outcome for all, relative to other feasible outcomes. Three case studies from biodiversity conservation contexts showing this feature are modeled to demonstrate how game–theoretical representation can inform group decision-making. Methodology and Principal Findings -- The mathematical theory of games is used to model three biodiversity conservation scenarios with Pareto–inefficient Nash equilibria: (i) a two–agent case involving wild dogs in South Africa; (ii) a three–agent raptor and grouse conservation scenario from the United Kingdom; and (iii) an n–agent fish and coral conservation scenario from the Philippines. In each case there is reason to believe that traditional mechanism–design solutions that appeal to material incentives may be inadequate, and the game–theoretical analysis recommends a resumption of further deliberation between agents and the initiation of trust—and confidence—building measures. Conclusions and Significance -- Game theory can and should be used as a normative tool in biodiversity conservation contexts: identifying scenarios with Pareto–inefficient Nash equilibria enables constructive action in order to achieve (closer to) optimal conservation outcomes, whether by policy solutions based on mechanism design or otherwise. However, there is mounting evidence [6] that formal mechanism–design solutions may backfire in certain cases. Such scenarios demand a return to group deliberation and the creation of reciprocal relationships of trust.en
dc.description.sponsorshipThis work was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. SES–0645884. It also benefited from discussions of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Working Group on Complex Environmental Decisions (funded by NSF Grant DEB–0553768). NSF website: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.en
dc.identifier.citationFrank DM, Sarkar S (2010) Group Decisions in Biodiversity Conservation: Implications from Game Theory. PLoS ONE 5(5): e10688. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010688en
dc.publisherPublic Library of Scienceen
dc.rightsAttribution 3.0 United Statesen
dc.subjectConservation scienceen
dc.subjectCoral reefsen
dc.subjectEconomic agentsen
dc.subjectGame theoryen
dc.subjectNonalcoholic steatohepatitisen
dc.titleGroup Decisions in Biodiversity Conservation: Implications from Game Theoryen

Access full-text files

Original bundle

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
Thumbnail Image
153.8 KB
Adobe Portable Document Format

License bundle

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
No Thumbnail Available
69.18 KB
Adobe Portable Document Format
Administrative Deposit