A Framework for Communicating Qualities of Indicators
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There is a growing focus on ecosystem-based indicators and what qualities they need to satisfy. However, the qualities and the characteristics of the already existing indicators vary substantially. Due to both scientific and societal aspects, so will the future indicators. With a growing interest for participatory decision processes it is crucial that scientific advice or knowledge based on these indicators is transparent. Advice should therefore be presented in such a way that a manager or a citizen is able to judge the rigidity and the relevance of the scientific information. This will also improve the communication of uncertainty. A common framework for presenting indicators could clarify such aspects by addressing qualities associated with the scientific knowledge and societal concerns. Some relevant qualities are how well an indicator is able to detect a manmade change, the rigidity of the scientific knowledge, how well an indicator threshold reflects a danger, how useful an indicator is for decision-making and the characteristics of the uncertainty. In this paper we discuss what features should be addressed in the communication of scientific knowledge and how this can be communicated through a general framework. The framework and the discussion of its content will be illustrated by case studies on measured technetium-99 levels in lobster and on Ecological Quality Objectives (EcoQOs) for commercial fish stocks and harbor porpoise by-catch.
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