Science and structured decision making: fulfilling the promise of adaptive management for imperiled species

Scientists and policy makers have popularized the concept of adaptive management for imperiled species, industriously building variations on multi-step adaptive-management cycles. Too many to count. Thirty years after the appearance of adaptive management in the scientific literature, the concept has gained acceptance as a readily recognized, conceptually simple conservation-planning vehicle, despite its lackluster track record. Herein we describe how adaptive management to be successful must be implemented as a stepwise, structured approach to incorporating scientific information into decision making. We contend that approach necessitates reconsideration of the overly simplified, cartoonish version of adaptive management being presented to policy makers, resource managers, and the public. Adaptive management that targets listed species represents a complex process that can be resource intensive, including in its demand for guidance from research, monitoring, and modeling. It therefore requires substantial technical and institutional capacity. That considered, adaptive management has a great potential to improve the effectiveness and efficacy of resource management actions provided it is properly implemented.

Murphy DD, Weiland PS. 2014. Science and structured decision-making: fulfilling the promise of adaptive management. Journal of Environmental Studies and Science 4:200-207.

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