Reserve network optimization tool.


MARXAN helps to find efficient solutions for reserve system design. It finds reasonably efficient solutions to the problem of selecting a system of spatially cohesive sites that meet a suite of biodiversity targets. Although it is described as a system for design of marine reserves in particular, it is equally well suited for terrestrial applications. The model calculates the portfolio cost for each potential solution and tries to minimize this cost while generating a near-optimal solution. Hundreds of different scenarios can be run and compared to look at different outcomes and patterns in the outcomes to determine which landscape elements are most critical to preserve. Given reasonably uniform data on species, habitats and/or other relevant biodiversity features and surrogates for a number of planning units (as many as 20,000), MARXAN minimizes the cost (a weighted sum of area and boundary length, Possingham, Ball and Andelman, 2001), while attempting to meet user-defined biodiversity targets. The new version of Marxan has support for the Zonae Cogito decision support system and doubles the processing speed.

Source Of Description

Hugh Possingham et al. 2000. Mathematical methods for identifying representative reserve networks. []

URL (No Longer Available)

For Application Domains

All (User Specified Application Domain)

Biodiversity Conservation

Estuarine, Coastal And Marine Management

Decision Problem Types Targeted

Alternative Evaluation

Reserve System

Site Search Or Selection

Domain Knowledge Modeling Area

All (User Specified Domain Knowledge Modeling Area)

Estuarine And Marine Ecosystem Modeling

Landscape Analysis And Modeling

Management Process Modeling

Socioeconomic System Modeling

Planning And Decision Process Phases/Steps Served

Alternative Generation

Rank Alternatives


Methods And Techniques Implemented

Optimization Methods

Simulated Annealing

Trade-Off Analysis

Systems Functional Components


Accepts Data Of Process Types

Biophysical Process

Economic Process

Management Process

Social Process

User Defined Process

Input Type

Spatial Dataset


Input Data Format

ESRI Shapefile

Text File (.TXT)

Output Type

Spatial Dataset


Output Data Format

ESRI Shapefile

Text File (.TXT)

Analysis Extent

All (User Defined Analysis Extent)

Regional Extent

Subregional Extent

Analysis Unit


Indicators Used

Forest Fragmentation

Forest Management Classes

Species Diversity

Supports Analysis Of Interdisciplinary Interactions

True ^^ Http://Www.W3.Org/2001/Xmlschema#Boolean


Windows 2000

Windows 95/98

Windows NT

Windows XP

Used In Software Systems/Tools

Protected Area Tools (PAT)

Zonae Cogito

Tools That This Tool Works With



Zonae Cogito

Tools That This Tool Works With


Description Of System Components

Optimization: The engine, MARXAN.exe, primarily uses simulated annealing to find near-optimal solutions, but it also includes a variety of less sophisticated, but often faster, heuristic algorithms, such as \ summed irreplaceability\ (Leslie et al. in press; McDonnell et al. 2002).Other: A separate graphic user interface is provided for setting up input data and run options for the engine. MARXAN does not provide graphic display of design solutions, but its output data are easily imported into GIS applications such as ArcView 3.2 of ArcGIS 8.x

Scientific Expertise Level Required

Some Scientific Background

Technical Expertise Level Required

Some Computer/GIS Programming Skills

Online Download Available

True ^^ Http://Www.W3.Org/2001/Xmlschema#Boolean

Developer Assistance Needed For Installation/Configuration

False ^^ Http://Www.W3.Org/2001/Xmlschema#Boolean



Development Status

Regularly Distributed

Tool Maker

The Ecology Centre, The University Of Queensland

Information Source

National Commission On Science For Sustainable Forestry

Contact Person

Hugh Possingham

Contact Email


Sean Gordon

Parent Categories

Software Tools And Models - All

Spatial Decision Support Systems


Martin Wong

Last Updated

2010-03-17T16:29:05.557 ^^

Decision Process Activity Types Served

Alternative Ranking, Decision Making

Decision Alternatives Generation, Scenario Simulation


Software Type

Spatial Decision Support Systems

Model Type

Decision Model

Evaluative Models

Graphical Ontology Browser

  • Click on a node to jump to the content of that node
  • Pan to see the rest of the graph
  • Scroll the mousewheel up and down to zoom in and out
  • Rearrange the nodes in the graph by dragging a node to a different position


IntroductionPlanning/Decision ContextPlanning And Spatial Decision ProcessSpatial Planning And Decision Problem TypesMethods And Techniques
methods and techniques; methodology
TechnologyData And Domain KnowledgePeople And ParticipationResources