Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Research Fellow







503Weeks BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

9 results found

Vercammen A, Burgman M, 2019, Untapped potential of collective intelligence in conservation and environmental decision making, Conservation Biology, Vol: 33, Pages: 1247-1255, ISSN: 0888-8892

Environmental decisions are often deferred to groups of experts, committees, or panels to develop climate policy, plan protected areas, or negotiate trade-offs for biodiversity conservation. There is, however, surprisingly little empirical research on the performance of group decision making related to the environment. We examined examples from a range of different disciplines, demonstrating the emergence of collective intelligence (CI) in the elicitation of quantitative estimates, crowdsourcing applications, and small-group problem solving. We explored the extent to which similar tools are used in environmental decision making. This revealed important gaps (e.g., a lack of integration of fundamental research in decision-making practice, absence of systematic evaluation frameworks) that obstruct mainstreaming of CI. By making judicious use of interdisciplinary learning opportunities, CI can be harnessed effectively to improve decision making in conservation and environmental management. To elicit reliable quantitative estimates an understanding of cognitive psychology and to optimize crowdsourcing artificial intelligence tools may need to be incorporated. The business literature offers insights into the importance of soft skills and diversity in team effectiveness. Environmental problems set a challenging and rich testing ground for collective-intelligence tools and frameworks. We argue this creates an opportunity for significant advancement in decision-making research and practice.

Journal article

Vercammen A, McGowan J, Knight AT, Pardede S, Muttaqin E, Harris J, Ahmadia G, Estradivari, Dallison T, Selig E, Beger Met al., 2019, Evaluating the impact of accounting for coral cover in large-scale marine conservation prioritizations, Diversity and Distributions, Vol: 25, Pages: 1564-1574, ISSN: 1366-9516

AimMega‐diverse coral reef ecosystems are declining globally, necessitating conservation prioritizations to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services of sites with high functional integrity to promote persistence. In practice however, the design of marine‐protected area (MPA) systems often relies on broad classifications of habitat class and size, making the tacit assumption that all reefs are of comparable condition. We explored the impact of this assumption through a novel, pragmatic approach for incorporating variability in coral cover in a large‐scale regional spatial prioritization plan.LocationThe Coral Triangle.MethodsWe developed a spatially explicit predictive model of hard coral cover based on freely available macro‐ecological data to generate a complete regional map of coral cover as a proxy for reef condition. We then incorporate this information in spatial conservation prioritization software Marxan to design an MPA system that meets specific conservation objectives.ResultsWe discover prioritizations using area‐based representation of reef habitat alone may overestimate the conservation benefit, defined as the amount of hard coral cover protected, by up to 64%. We find substantial differences in conservation priorities and an overall increase in habitat quality metrics when accounting for predicted coral cover.Main conclusionsThis study shows that including habitat condition in a large‐scale marine spatial prioritization is feasible within time and resource constraints, and calls for increased implementation, and evaluation, of such ecologically relevant planning approaches to enhance potential conservation effectiveness.

Journal article

Weickert TW, Salimuddin H, Lenroot RK, Bruggemann J, Loo C, Vercammen A, Kindler J, Weickert CSet al., 2019, Preliminary findings of four-week, task-based anodal prefrontal cortex transcranial direct current stimulation transferring to other cognitive improvements in schizophrenia, PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH, Vol: 280, ISSN: 0165-1781

Journal article

Reeves JP, Knight AT, Strong EA, Heng V, Neale C, Cromie R, Vercammen Aet al., 2019, The application of wearable technology to quantify health and wellbeing co-benefits from urban wetlands, Frontiers in Psychology, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 1664-1078

Improved nature provision in urban environments offers great potential for achieving both biodiversity conservation and public health objectives. Yet there are few experimental studies that address links between specific natural environments and physiological and/or psychological changes that could contribute to the health and wellbeing co-benefits of urban nature. In addition, relative to green space, the salutogenic impact of aquatic environments are understudied. Here, we present a feasibility study examining the use of low-cost wearable technology to quantify the psychophysiological effects of short-term exposure to urban wetlands. The study took place at the WWT London Wetland Centre, which is characterized by its contrasting biodiverse wetland habitat and surrounding urban setting. Thirty-six healthy participants experienced counterbalanced exposures to an indoor space, a wetland, an urban site. We continuously recorded electroencephalographic (EEG) data and real-time physiological stress responses; with additional monitoring of post-exposure self-reported mood states. We found a significant effect of site on mean resting heart rate (HR), with increased HR in the urban setting, although this was only observed in participants with pre-existing high stress. We found no significant differences in other measures of physiological stress responses (heart rate variability and electrodermal activity). The EEG data showed modulation of high beta band activity only in the wetland setting, potentially related to changes in attention. However, the EEG findings were confounded by low quality signals and artifacts caused by movement and environmental interference. Assessments of self-reported mood states demonstrated an increase in positive feelings in the wetland setting. A pronounced decrease in negative feelings in the wetland setting was observed in stressed individuals only. Our results suggest that pre-existing stress levels may be an important modulator of the saluto

Journal article

Marcoci A, Burgman M, Kruger A, Silver E, McBride M, Thorn F, Fraser H, Wintle B, Fidler F, Vercammen Aet al., 2019, Better together: reliable application of the post-9/11 and post-Iraq US intelligence tradecraft standards requires collective analysis, Frontiers in Psychology, Vol: 9, ISSN: 1664-1078

Background: The events of 9/11 and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction precipitated fundamental changes within the United States Intelligence Community. As part of the reform, analytic tradecraft standards were revised and codified into a policy document – Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203 – and an analytic ombudsman was appointed in the newly created Office for the Director of National Intelligence to ensure compliance across the intelligence community. In this paper we investigate the untested assumption that the ICD203 criteria can facilitate reliable evaluations of analytic products.Methods: Fifteen independent raters used a rubric based on the ICD203 criteria to assess the quality of reasoning of 64 analytical reports generated in response to hypothetical intelligence problems. We calculated the intra-class correlation coefficients for single and group-aggregated assessments.Results: Despite general training and rater calibration, the reliability of individual assessments was poor. However, aggregate ratings showed good to excellent reliability.Conclusion: Given that real problems will be more difficult and complex than our hypothetical case studies, we advise that groups of at least three raters are required to obtain reliable quality control procedures for intelligence products. Our study sets limits on assessment reliability and provides a basis for further evaluation of the predictive validity of intelligence reports generated in compliance with the tradecraft standards.

Journal article

Burgman M, Marcoci A, Vercammen A, 2019, ODNI as an analytic ombudsman: Is Intelligence Community Directive 203 up to the task?, Intelligence and National Security, Vol: 34, Pages: 205-224, ISSN: 0268-4527

In the wake of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence adopted Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203 – a list of analytic tradecraft standards – and appointed an ombudsman charged with monitoring their implementation. In this paper, we identify three assumptions behind ICD203: (1) tradecraft standards can be employed consistently; (2) tradecraft standards sufficiently capture the key elements of good reasoning; and (3) good reasoning leads to more accurate judgments. We then report on two controlled experiments that uncover operational constraints in the reliable application of the ICD203 criteria for the assessment of intelligence products.

Journal article

Vercammen A, Ji Y, Burgman M, 2019, The collective intelligence of random small crowds: A partial replication of Kosinski et al. (2012), JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING, Vol: 14, Pages: 91-+, ISSN: 1930-2975

Journal article

Sinclair S, Knight A, Milner-Gulland EJ, Smith B, McIntosh E, Vercammen Aet al., The use and usability of spatial conservation prioritizations, Conservation Letters, ISSN: 1755-263X

Journal article

Rushby JA, Vercammen A, Loo C, Short B, Weickert CS, Weickert TWet al., 2011, Frontal and Parietal Contributions to Probabilistic Association Learning, CEREBRAL CORTEX, Vol: 21, Pages: 1879-1888, ISSN: 1047-3211

Journal article

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