Close up of a women's face.

Dr Iadine Chadès develops and applies new methods to optimally manage invasive and endangered species.

Dr Iadine Chadès: making good conservation decisions under uncertainty

With a background in artificial intelligence and optimisation, Dr Chadès research provides informed guidance to managers on how to make decisions under uncertainty in the most efficient way.

  • 16 March 2011 | Updated 15 January 2014

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Chadès' research is at the forefront of linking conservation science and quantitative tools from the field of artificial intelligence (AI). She develops artificial intelligence methods to provide guidance on how to make smart conservation decisions under imperfect knowledge and resource constraints.

In simple terms, she works out how to make the biggest bang for our conservation buck[1].

Combining her expertise in AI with ecological and economic models, Dr Chadès leads the Conservation Decisions Team ( [external link]) to solve complex applied decision problems in the face of uncertainty. The solutions she provides are optimal decisions that save money and allocate resources more efficiently.

Her work is in demand in applied pest management, health and conservation. For example she has provided solutions to efficiently eradicate invasive weeds, control mosquito-borne diseases and protect threatened species from extinction[3,4].

Dr Chadès' research pioneered the use of Partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) in conservation and has been recognised in both ecology and AI, with two publications in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences[3,4] and the 2012 best paper award for computational sustainability at the high-profile 26th Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference [5].

Dr Chadès provides informed guidance to managers on how to make decisions under uncertainty in a cost-effective way


During Dr Chadès' PhD studies, she developed new methods to tackle complex optimisation problems for mobile robots using Markov decision processes (MDP). She discovered that MDP models can be an effective tool for improving decision-making in modern conservation science.

It turned out that teaching a robot to navigate utilises the same mathematics as choosing the best conservation actions to save threatened species under uncertainty[2]. Eager to contribute to conservation science, she changed career and turned towards decisions in ecology (2006).

Dr Chadès holds a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and has held a permanent research scientist position with the French National Institute of Agronomy (INRA) since 2003.

Seeking inspirational applications, Dr Chadès visited Professor Hugh Possingham in 2005 and became passionate about ecology.

She discovered that her skills in optimisation could be useful to solve problems in conservation and natural resource management science.

A desire to continue applying her skills in AI to solve complex ecological problems underpinned her decision to develop a career in Australia with CSIRO. 

Academic qualifications

Dr Chadès was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy from Université Nancy 1/INRIA, France in 2003 and a Masters of Science in Computer Science from 'Informatique de Lyon', Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon, France in 1998.

Other activities

Dr Chadès was an invited speaker to:

  • Invited speaker at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Foundation, Lake Tahoe (Dec. 2013)Invited speaker at the Global Change Institute (GCI), University of Queensland, Brisbane (Sept. 2013).
  • Invited speaker at the International Conference for Conservation Biology (ICCB), Baltimore (July 2013).
  • Invited speaker and contributor at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) workshop on Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources organised by Paul Armsworth, Alan Hastings and Andrew Liebhold (Nov 2013, partially supported).
  • Invited speaker and contributor to National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis working group (NIMBioS) "Pretty Darn Good’ Control: extensions of optimal control for ecological systems" organised by Alan Hastings, Megan Donahue, Carl Toews and Paul Armsworth (April 2012 and Jan 2013, fully supported).
  • Invited speaker to the 2012 Winter School in Mathematical and Computational Biology (University of Queensland), Brisbane (2012).
  • Invited contributor to working groups of the Environmental Decisions Group (EDG) on adaptive management, multi-species management, migratory species and multi-actors management (2012-2013, fully supported). EDG is funded through the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence program and the Australian Governments National Environmental Research Program. [external link]
  • Invited plenary speaker at the French Conference for Conservation Biology, Dijon, France (May 2012, fully supported).
  • Invited speaker and working group on adaptive management at the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA), O. Buffet, Nancy, France (July 2011, May 2012, fully supported).
  • Invited speaker and working group on MDPToolbox at the National Institute for Research in Agronomy (INRA), R. Sabbadin, F. Garcia, Toulouse, France (July 2011, May 2012, fully supported).
  • Invited speaker at the International Conference for Conservation Biology, Auckland New-Zealand (2011).
  • Invited speaker at the Institute for Computational Sustainability (ICS), Cornell, USA (2009, fully supported).

She has also supervised:

  • N. Murray, PhD student from the University of Queensland, since 2013
  • S Nicol, Postdoctoral Fellow from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, since 2012
  • JB Pichancourt, Postdoctoral Fellow from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences(2010-2013)
  • C. Mantyka-Pringle, Postdoctoral Fellow from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences (2013)
  • Martin Peron, Honours, Ecole des ponts, France
  • A Moore, Postdoctoral Fellow from French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)/ACERA/AEDA, 2010
  • E McDonald-Madden, CSIRO OCE Postdoctoral Fellow, 2009–10
  • I Grechi, Postdoctoral Fellow from INRA/CSIRO, 2008–09
  • S Nicol, PhD student from the University of Queensland, 2008-2011
  • M-A. Coindreau, Master student, ENSTA, France, 2013
  • Simon Orb Master student, ENSTA, France, 2012
  • L. Jalladeau, Master student, ENSTA, France, 2011

Read more about CSIRO research on Biodiversity and ecology overview.


  1. MacKenzie DI. 2009. Getting the biggest bang for our conservation buck. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 24, 175-177.
  2. Chadès I. 2009. Walking with robots: What’s the connection between mobile robots, endangered cryptic animals and invasive species? Decision Point 29, 5 (2009) [PDF 1.2MB, External link].
  3. Chadès I. et al. 2008. When to stop managing or surveying cryptic threatened species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 105, 13936.
  4. Chadès I. et al. 2011. General rules for managing and surveying networks of pests, diseases, and endangered species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 108, 8323-8328.
  5. Chadès I. et al. in The Twenty-Sixth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-12).  267-273.