Linking Science And Management

Ecologists have generally failed to conduct experiments relevant to managers (Underwood 1995), and managerial agencies often resist criticisms of performance or suggestions for improvement (Longood and Simmel 1972; Ward and Kassebaum 1972; Underwood 1995). In addition, management agencies often desire immediate answers to management questions, while most ecologists recognize that long-term studies are required to address many questions. These factors have contributed to poorly developed, and sometimes adversarial, relationships between managers and scientists. To address this problem, scientists should be proactive, rather than reactive, with respect to resource management issues, and managers should be familiar with scientific principles. These ideas are developed in further detail in Chapter 5.

Interestingly, some scientists believe that there is insufficient ecological knowledge to make recommendations about the management of natural resources, whereas others believe that ecologists are uniquely qualified to make these recommendations. Of course, decisions about natural resources must be made - the demands of an increasingly large and diverse society necessitate effective management - so it seems appropriate to apply relevant ecological knowledge to these decisions. However, ecologists generally have no expertise in the political, sociological, or managerial aspects of resource management, and they are rarely affected directly by decisions about land management. Thus, ecologists are not necessarily accountable or responsible land stewards. Conversely, managers are ultimately accountable and responsible for their actions, so they should exploit relevant ecological information as one component of the decision-making process. Ultimately, management decisions should be made by managers most familiar with individual systems.

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