Developing best-practice Bayesian Belief Networks in ecological risk assessments for freshwater and estuarine ecosystems: A quantitative review
Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs) are being increasingly used to develop a range of predictive models and risk assessments for ecological systems. Ecological BBNs can be applied to complex catchment and water quality issues, integrating multiple spatial and temporal variables within social, economic and environmental decision making processes. This paper reviews the essential components required for ecologists to design a best-practice predictive BBN in an ecological risk assessment (ERA) framework for aquatic ecosystems, outlining: (1) how to create a BBN for an aquatic ERA?; (2) what are the challenges for aquatic ecologists in adopting the best-practice applications of BBNs to ERAs?; and (3) how can BBNs in ERAs influence the science/management interface into the future? The aims of this paper are achieved using three approaches. The first is to demonstrate the best-practice development of BBNs in aquatic sciences using a simple nutrient model. The second is to discuss the limitations and challenges aquatic ecologists encounter when applying BBNs to ERAs. The third is to provide a framework for integrating best-practice BBNs into ERAs and the management of aquatic ecosystems. A quantitative review of the application and development of BBNs in aquatic science from 2002 to 2014 was conducted to identify areas where continued best-practice development is required. We outline a best-practice framework for the integration of BBNs into ERAs and study of complex aquatic systems.