Statistical inference and decision making in conservation biology Academic Article uri icon


  • Since the formulation of hypothesis testing by Neyman and Pearson in 1933, the approach has been subject to continuous criticism. Yet, until recently this criticism, for the most part, has gone unheeded. The negative appraisal focuses mainly on the fact that P-values provide no evidential support for either the null hypothesis (H0 ) or the alternative hypothesis (Ha ). Although hypothesis testing done under tightly controlled conditions can provide some insight regarding the alternative hypothesis based on the uncertainty of H0 , strictly speaking, this does not constitute evidence. More importantly, well controlled research environments rarely exist in field-centered sciences such as ecology. These problems are manifestly more acute in applied field sciences, such as conservation biology, that are expected to support decision making, often under crisis conditions. In conservation biology, the consequences of a Type II error are often far worse than a Type I error. The "advantage" afforded to H0 by settin...

publication date

  • January 1, 2011