Faced with limited budgets, wildlife managers need to determine the set of management activities that achieve management objectives at least cost, which requires using both ecological and economic principles to make management decisions. We used data from a biological simulation model of breeding waterfowl to embed biological response within an economic optimization model. Nonlinearity of the response function was attributable to density dependence and interactions between jointly applied management activities. We then used the bioeconomic model to solve a waterfowl manager's least-cost problem. Model results demonstrated that 1) biological response and economic cost jointly determine the least-cost management plan, 2) nonlinearity of the biological response function should be modeled explicitly to identify cost-effective management plans, and 3) least-cost management plans depend on the chosen population objective. We demonstrate how concepts from production economics can aid decision making in a wide range of applied wildlife management settings; however, though applied to waterfowl management, we did not intend to provide a robust prescription for waterfowl managers.
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Vol. 72 • No. 2