Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce a full day workshop entitled " Developing Bayesian 
Belief Networks (BBNs) to improve decision-making during mass stranding events” 
at the upcoming 22nd Biennial Conference of the Marine Mammal Society. The 
workshop will take place on Sunday 29th October from 0800 to 1700h and assemble 
scientists, vets, NGOs, government agencies and other stakeholders whom have 
experience and/or vested interest in (mass) stranding events. The workshop will 
engage expert opinion on the different parameters that can affect the 
likelihood of survivorship of refloated individuals and work towards 
establishment of predicted probabilities that can affect the outcome of rescue 
attempts. The overarching goal will be to prepare a submission for publication 
that addresses the application of BBNs to assess probability of survivorship in 
refloated whales.

Despite costly, and often logistically challenging attempts to rescue live 
whales, there is often a lack of scientific evaluation underpinning current 
decision-making processes. Notably, matters of conservation 
(survivorship/fitness) and animal welfare (impacts of refloatation), remain 
largely undetermined. Historically, animal welfare science and conservation 
have been regarded as separate disciplines, with dissimilar objectives that 
often conflict. However, the newly emerging field of conservation welfare 
integrates synergies between two scientific disciplines with the aim of 
improving outcomes for both the species (conservation) and individual animals 
(welfare). This workshop addresses the issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 
the form of Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN) to challenge the human perceptions 
and psychology associated with whale mass strandings, while incorporating 
scientific evaluation into decision-making processes. AI tools are becoming 
increasingly popular to address an array of complex environmental problems, but 
have yet to be applied effectively at the interface between science and public 
interaction. The overarching goal is to apply recent technological innovations 
to an age-old problem, in order to provide a vital nexus between conservation 
and animal welfare sciences.

Workshop Summary
Decision-making processes required by authorities during live stranding events 
are typically fraught with difficulties due to complicated, often interlinked 
variables, including but not limited to logistics, ethics, public perceptions 
and animal welfare. Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs) are a graphical rule based 
modelling technique that have recently emerged as a useful research and 
management tool. BBNs can provide a visual depiction of the causal linkages 
between multiple environmental drivers and ecological state. Notably, in the 
absence of empirical data, BBNs can be constructed solely upon expert opinion, 
with subsequent independent assessment applied to assess the prediction 
accuracy of the model. This workshop aims to convene and engage individuals 
with relevant live stranding event experience to determine as a collective, key 
parameters and their predicted probability of influence on survivorship of 
refloated cetacea post-stranding event.

Cost: $80 (Before July 13th) or $90 (After July 12th). Registration for the 
workshop can be completed via the conference website 

We look forward to seeing you in Halifax!

Best wishes, Karen Stockin & Emma Betty

Karen A Stockin, PhD
Director, Coastal-Marine Research Group

Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
North Shore
Auckland 0745

Tel: 09 4140800 ext 43614
Tel: 09 2136614 (direct dial)
Mobile: 021 423 997

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