Table 4. Summary of lessons learned from the PATH experience.

Lessons learned from PATH
1. Differing objectives among entities
  • Analysts should provide decision makers with clear guidelines to ensure that alternatives can be implemented in the modeling framework.
  • Process should allow scientists to participate in developing alternatives.
2. Low level of trust among scientists and agencies; many court cases
  • Involve key senior scientists with access to/influence on decision makers.
  • Ensure broad representation among and within agencies.
  • Enlist expert reviewers for the duration of the process to ensure that they have detailed knowledge of the analysis.
  • Involve external scientists (different from reviewers) in the analyses.
  • Independent facilitation.
3. Lack of understanding of differences in model’s underlying assumptions
  • Thorough sensitivity analyses help to build common understanding among scientists about key uncertainties. Do these early in process before spending time and money on resolving inconsequential uncertainties.
  • Common data sets made it easier to identify where different analyses diverged.
  • Some uncertainties are unresolvable short of deliberate management experiments; policy makersmust be educated about the benefits of experimental management using success stories.
  • Experimental management is easier to sell/implement before species are ESA-listed.
4. Lack of clear advice to decision makers
  • A common modeling framework elucidated key uncertainties and assessed robustness of actions across a range of assumptions (better than reconciling separate analyses with different assumptions).
  • The complexity of the common framework made it more difficult to understand internal workings of models and communicate findings to nontechnical audiences.
  • Recognize trade-off between scientific relevance and ease of explanation of performance measures.
  • Allocate sufficient resources to produce nontechnical reports and presentations for public/decision makers.
  • Think creatively about how to communicate risk assessment approaches (e.g., interactive models).
5. Urgency of decision
  • Moral suasion is generally insufficient incentive to produce products on time.
  • Having a separate research institution with scientists seconded from agencies allows more efficient use of scientists time.
  • Recognize trade-offs between timely/relevant reporting of results to decision makers, degree of collaboration, and publishing in peer-reviewed journals.